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Saturday, July 24, 2010

‘Mynt’ Vegetarian Restaurant, Pune

For more vegan-friendly restaurants in Pune reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Mynt is a multi cuisine vegetarian restaurant housed within the premises of Hotel Woodland in Pune. The menu at Mynt is broadly North Indian, Italian, and Chinese. The restaurant serves good quality food; besides, what is most important is that Mynt is an extremely vegan-friendly restaurant that will cut out the dairy on your request. The staff is very courteous and take interest in helping you veganize your platter.

Mynt uses a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables. From soups, starters, and salads to the entrees and main course, you have it all. The list of starters we thought is extremely impressive; the description of the different varieties of vegetable kebabs is especially enticing. They smelt good too!

How ling Potatoes

We had a bowl of 'How ling Potatoes', as suggested by the restaurant staff. This dish is vegan and consisted of exciting crunchy potato nuggets tossed with green peppers and onion.

Mynt is definitely recommended for having a cozy vegan meal!  

Contact details:
Address: Hotel Woodland, 5 BJ Road, Sadhu Vaswani Circle, Near Poona Club, Pune – 411001
Phone: 020-26212121

Timings: Open for lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 3:00pm and 7:00pm to 10:00pm, respectively. Open all days in the week.

“If we want to live in a world without oppression, where does meat eating fit into that vision?” ~Carol J. Adams, Author of the Classic ‘The Sexual Politics of Meat’~

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toothpaste from ‘VICCO’ with the “Vegan” Label

Most toothpastes in the Indian market carry the label “Always 100% Vegetarian”. Products that declare are “vegetarian” or carry the ‘green’ vegetarian symbol are fast becoming the preferred choice of many Indians. The article, In sales and marketing strategies, vegetarian rocks from The Economic Times sums up the consumer movement towards vegetarian products quite fittingly.

However, a declaration of “vegetarian” does not seal the case; there is another side to the coin: Are the products vegan or cruelty-free as well? It is important that we ascertain the ‘cruelty-free’ status of the product before purchasing them. To do that, we need to ask, “Granted that the product does not contain ingredients extracted from other sentient beings by torturing them, nonetheless, is the product tested on them?”

In the case of oral care products, we found two companies, Amar and VICCO that satisfactorily answer the question of animal testing, and the usage of animal ingredients and animal byproducts that every vegan would like to know. While the direct sale of Amar cruelty-free toothpastes is restricted to the Western Region of the country, VICCO toothpastes have an All India presence. The VICCO Vajradanti toothpaste carries the 'green' vegetarian symbol as well as the declaration, “VICCO Is Not Tested on Animals. No Animal Ingredients.” (See below)

It helps to know that VICCO Vajradanti toothpaste is certified by Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC). This means that the Company has willingly disclosed the ingredients in its toothpaste and put them up for scrutiny; following which, the toothpaste has been certified as free from animal byproducts and animal ingredients, in addition to being free from animal testing. Besides, VICCO Vajradanti toothpaste has also received the PETA Proggy Award for 2005 for manufacturing “Vegan Paste”.

Availability: VICCO Vajradanti toothpaste is available all over India as well as in Mauritius and the SAARC countries. For any further consumer related query you can write to

Endnote: Here’s an informative article titled, Vegan Toothpaste? But I Thought All Toothpastes Were Vegan! that explains just what is wrong with testing the toothpaste’s suitability (for humans) on animals. You can click the name of this article to learn more.

Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are like us.' Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: 'Because the animals are not like us.' Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.” ~Charles R. Magel, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics~

For products not tested on animals reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Friday, July 16, 2010

‘VegVoyages’ Adventure Tours for Vegans and Vegetarians

Spreading the circle of compassion through travel is the essence of the VegVoyages travel business. Established in January 2005, VegVoyages is an adventure tour company for vegetarian and vegan travelers.

Sofna Yusi, Adventure Coordinator at VegVoyages, explains the company’s philosophy thus:
“Our philosophy is to make it easy for both vegetarians and vegans to travel and get to know different countries without having to worry about food. We want all our guests to walk away with much more than a few snapshots, postcards, and a t-shirt. We strive hard to make sure each of our guests feel like they are part of the destination, so that when they leave the country, they have a better understanding of its people, culture, history, and let’s not forget… food. Seventy five percent of our adventures are Vegan. The percentage will increase in the coming years as we introduce more trips for vegan people.”
So, how does VegVoyages fulfill its unique mandate? Let’s find out.

What are the VegVoyages Destinations/Adventure Spots?

VegVoyages destinations are essentially India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The Company focuses on destinations where its members have lived and/or worked or are currently living and/or working.

Where do guests stay? 

Personal rapport created by the members with the locals at the holiday destinations enables VegVoyages to arrange the stays of their guests at locally owned hotels, guesthouses, and homestays. The food is planned ahead of the arrival of the guests such that guests are assured of vegan/vegetarian meals. Says Sofna, “In countries such as India where dairy products are a big part of Indian food habits, we need to explain and create awareness about vegan diets”.

What are the company’s Vegan commitments? 

Besides being active vehicles of the vegan lifestyle, VegVoyages also supports grassroots animal rights and social organizations. These may include support to hospitals for local street animals, rural village schools, orphanages, refuge and rehabilitation center for abused and exploited animals, or organizations that help people with disabilities.

In addition, VegVoyages does not use animals on tours for expeditions, rides, and/or safaris.

What else does the tour include?

The VegVoyages tour includes cultural programs and activities such as daily yoga sessions, cooking classes, trekking, boating, island hopping, snorkeling, desert safaris, biking, live music, dance, and much fun! You can read the testimonials from people who have traveled with VegVoyages by clicking this link.

How is the tour conducted?

VegVoyages conducts the tours preferably in groups with a maximum size of twelve guests. A local guide and an Adventure Leader from VegVoyages accompany the group from the time the guests arrive at the airport till the day the tour ends.

Where do you contact to enroll for the tours?

You can find out about the voyage details such as how to select the destinations, when to book the travel, how to book the travel, the cost involved, and so on by communicating with the VegVoyages' members through the addresses and telephone numbers mentioned in the Contact Us page of the Company website.

How has the response to VegVoyages been?

This is a question we posed to Sofna and she explains, “We’ve been very lucky that the Vegetarian and Vegan community has shown a lot of enthusiasm for our adventure trips".

It sure takes a little more effort than normal to travel as vegans and vegetarians; especially while booking places to stay at and finding the right food. While in a new country, the last thing you would probably want to do is to search for places that can offer you hygienic vegan food. With VegVoyages ensuring the basic needs of food and stay, and exposing you to the vegan cuisines of the region, it does leave you with more time to focus on other areas to explore. And especially if you have wonderful veteran travel guides to ensure you a 'compassionate' and a spiritually satisfying travel experience, what more can you ask for! We conclude our story today with the link to the VegVoyages page on Facebook that you can check for regular updates by clicking this link.

Bon voyage!
for the Animals
for the Planet
for Human Health

For tourist places of vegan interest reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vegan Sorbetto from ‘Ti-Amo’, Pune

When one of our vegan friends spoke about the vegan sorbettos by Ti-Amo in Pune, our first reaction was excitement and a question, “Will the sorbettos be as good as the ones by Mama Mia in Bangalore and Kolkata that we had surveyed earlier!?!”

And the answer is – yes! Just as good and vegany as those from Mama Mia!

Sorbettos, you may know, are the dairy-free equivalents of the traditional ice cream. Sorbetto does not contain milk, cream, or gelatin. It is made from fruit/s (iced fruit puree), sugar, and water – blended with a special technique to result in a rich creamy texture. 

Ti-Amo’s Sorbetto flavours

The sorbettos from Ti-Amo do not contain artificial colors and sweeteners, and are available in several flavors: Tropical Fruit Mélange with Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Mango, and Pineapple; Musk Melon; Mango; Limetta (Streaked Green Lime); Guava; Anguria (Watermelon); Limone (Tangy Yellow Lemon); Ananas (Pineapple); and Black Grape. The availability of the flavors change according to the season as only fresh fruits are used.

Ti-Amo Parlors in Pune

You can find the Ti-Amo parlors in Pune by clicking this link. Please note that while each parlor will not have all the Sorbetto flavors; they will, at the least have two of the flavors. We tried the Tropical Fruit Mélange and Musk Melon flavors and they were unbelievably creamy! Chatting with the outlet manager we learned that the demand for sorbettos is growing – they are in fact, in high demand from the 'foreigners' in the city who purchase them in tubs! Just a word of caution: Ti-Amo sells gelato ice creams as well and these contain some percentage of dairy; therefore please ask for the ‘sorbettos’ to make sure you get a vegan deal.

Cost factor

A healthy tasty vegany Sorbetto scoop at Ti-Amo costs Rs.37/- only at the time when this survey was written.


Why do vegans shun dairy and dairy products? In short, they do so for their own health, the health of the animals, and for the health of the Planet. Confused? Well! They are connected. There are many web links that provide you the answer in detail; today we link to an article from the Toronto Vegetarian Association titled, Cow's Milk: A Natural Choice? You can get detailed answers by clicking the name of the article.

“There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, not humans, and we should all stop drinking it today.” ~Dr. Frank A. Oski, Former Director of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University~

For sorbetto available in Bangalore and Kolkata reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

‘Asha Dining Hall’, Pune

For more vegan-friendly restaurants in Pune reviewed in this blog, you can click this link. 
Asha Dining Hall was established on August 15, 1949 by late Shri Rama Rao Kini, a man who strongly believed in the principles of vegetarianism. Shri Kini’s son and grandson have continued to run Asha Dining Hall with the same set of beliefs. You may miss Asha Dining Hall situated in a by-lane while traveling on Apte Road in the Deccan area of Pune; however, after you have found your way into the lane, you will not fail to notice the spick and span Dining Hall offering home cooked Maharashtrian food! And guess what, largely, the spread is vegan!

The food at Asha Dining Hall arrives on your table in a big plate or thali consisting of an Usal preparation (Maharashtrian dal-like dish made from beans such as Matki, Moong, or Waal), and at least three vegetable preparations amongst other things. The vegetables vary according to the season and availability. If you are lucky, you can get a taste of jackfruit curry and green mango curry as well! Since the Kinis are from North Karnataka, the thali also consists of a bowl of rasam that adds a tasty-tangy South flavor.

The food reminds you of a nice homely meal. And why not! Arun Kini, the grandson of Shri Rama Rao Kini explains, 
“At Asha Dining Hall, we use home ground masalas (spices) only. Someone from the family goes to the mandi (vegetable market) everyday to buy fresh vegetables. For our chapattis (Indian bread), we use whole wheat flour only and not maida or refined flour. We do not use soda in our cooking either.” 
It was interesting to learn that some restaurants use soda in their preparations – soda gives an illusion of 'fullness' in the stomach and one cannot eat much. Not so with Asha Dining Hall!

The thali with unlimited servings priced at Rs.70/- is wholesome and complete. If you avoid the curd and the sweets, you give yourself the gift of a nice home-cooked Maharashtrian-style vegan meal!

Asha Dining Hall has many regular patrons. We spotted people from all generations enjoying their thalis – a group of elderly people having a jovial get-together, young office goers having a relaxed lunch, and the middle aged as well.

Contact details:
Address: 122-4 Shivajinagar, Apte Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune – 411004
Telephone number: 020-25532424, 66027149
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 2:30pm and 7:00pm to 10:00pm, respectively

Cost factor: Rs.70/- for a thali (platter) with unlimited servings

Special notes: Asha Dining Hall is open all seven days in the week; the Dining Hall is closed only on August 15 (Independence Day) and May 1 (Labor Day).

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” ~Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Father of the Non-violent Political Struggle in India~

Sunday, July 4, 2010

‘Kanishka’ Cruelty-free Varakh

Did you lend second thoughts to the ultra thin layer of silver that covers your sweets or paan? Maybe not! However, this ultra thin layer of silver or ‘varakh’ as it is known as, should not be taken for granted. Investigations by organizations such as Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of India have revealed that the bulk of the varakh available in the country is non-vegan and non-vegetarian besides containing harmful metals that are carcinogenic in nature.

What makes the varakh non-vegan and non-vegetarian?

Varakh is a cruelty product; first, because of the process involved in its production. And second, because of the presence of non-vegetarian/non-vegan substances in the finished product. 

By and large, varakh is produced by pounding the metal silver between two surfaces of tender animal tissue (epidermis). According to a varakh manufacturer, animals with tender skin are identified for slaughter (primarily sheep and baby goats) so that the epidermal layer of their skin can be used in the varakh manufacturing process. Please click the link to this informative article to learn about the detailed procedure involved in manufacturing cruelty varakh. 

According to estimations made by BWC, around 12,000 animals are slaughtered to produce one kilogram of cruelty varakh. In India, the annual consumption of varakh is around 30,000 kilograms. A straight calculation reveals that 3,60,000,000 animals are killed for that ultra thin layer of silver we consume via our sweets and at times via paan, fruits, and in chvyanprash.

In addition, the pounding process leaves behind tissues from the animal’s skin, blood, and excreta on the varakh. This varakh when used to coat sweets and other edibles, makes them non-vegetarian and absolutely unsuitable as offerings at places of worship.

What makes the varakh carcinogenic?

Often, the silver is adulterated with other metals such as aluminum. Aluminum is hazardous for health and carcinogenic in nature. Read how this adulteration poses serious health risks in the article, The bitter side to silver-foiled sweets.

Other reasons to stop consuming varakh

Cruelty varakh is made under extreme unhygienic conditions and is a by-product of the unorganized sector. The varakh manufacturing process employs children as well.

Isn’t this sad?!

Here's what you can do: Some suggestions

  • Refuse sweets with a coating of varakh. Does it matter in any good way if your sweets contain varkah? But, your action of refusing varakh will matter to the lives and security of millions of helpless animals!
  • Report to the FDA if you find that a particular sweet shop is using cruelty varakh. The FDA has the mandate to act on such cases. But, the body cannot go ahead until a complaint has been registered.
  • Demand for or suggest cruelty-free varakh to the sweet shops, temples, and fruit vendors.


For certain human habits to change and be replaced by cruelty-free, compassionate habits, it always helps when there are alternatives available. In today’s story we feature cruelty-free varakh from the Jaipur-based company Kanishka. Kanishka varakh is cruelty-free and machine-made, a fact that has been recently certified through the BWC-led investigations.
Kanishka is the only varakh company in India that has been certified as 100% cruelty-free. According to BWC, Kanishka varakh has also been tested by sweet shops owners and found to be satisfactory. A spokesperson from the Kanishka company informed us that their product is 'better' than cruelty varakh in every possible way! 

Please visit the Kanishka website by clicking here and read how the company manufactures varakh that is not only cruelty-free but is free from human contamination as well.

Availability of Kanishka varakh: Kanishka varakh is produced and supplied on order. The company supplies to numerous sweet shops in different parts of the country. Please find out where your sweet shops procure the varakh from. Suggest cruelty-free varakh to them. Let our asking create an informed demand for cruelty-free varakh. Anybody interested can get in touch with Mr. Jitendra Mathur or Mr. Surendra Karnavat from Kanishka at telephone numbers 09950511111 and 09950555555 respectively, to seek more information.


Many sweet shop owners and temple priests are aware of the fact that the varakh procured from the unorganized sector is non-vegetarian. Yet, they keep silent about it and when questioned, they almost always insist that the varakh used by them is cruelty-free and made with unadulterated metals! This is far from the truth. However, as consumers we can refuse cruelty varakh and this action of ours can help control innocent animals from being mindlessly slaughtered for that dubious ultra thin layer of silver on the sweet! Think about it.

“Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.” ~Rue McClanahan, Actor~ 

For vegan sweets reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.