you caN HAVE VEGAN INDIA! POSTS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX TOO! type your email id and click submit!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ethical ‘Investment Guide’ by Beauty Without Cruelty


Vegans often battle with their conscience while shopping. The ‘green’ vegetarian symbol has come across as very useful. Yet, many of us wonder – how green is the green? Finding companies that have genuine cruelty-free products can be time-consuming and frustrating at times; what makes matters worse are the deceptive claims made by companies to mislead hapless consumers into buying their products.

It is relatively easier to find cruelty-free FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) because of their penetration into our daily lives. But, what about the non-FMCGs such as cement, lubricants, paints, clothes, tyres, and so on? The manufacturers of such products may be exploiting animals to derive parts from their bodies that are profitable for manufacturer's business. Are we inadvertently supporting such companies by investing in them? How do we find out the truth about such companies? That's where the Investment Guide from BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) comes in.

This well researched Investment Guide compiled with inputs from experts in the field, provides a list of companies that do not support, cause, or contribute towards animal suffering. The purpose of the Guide as clearly stated is, “to help the investor identify companies whose businesses do not necessitate conscious and willful infliction of physical harm, injury, slavery, or death upon any member of the animal kingdom down to the level of insects”. The Guide not only encourages companies that produce cruelty-free products, but also helps us as investors to ensure that we do not inadvertently invest in any company that contributes towards animal suffering. Towards this end, the Investment Guide contains names of BSE500 companies classified under the following four categories:

  1. Companies that do not cause cruelty to or death of animals – These are companies that we can safely invest in.
  2. Companies that may or may not perpetrate cruelty on animals – We need to be cautious about investing in these companies. One example is hospitals that use pharmaceutical products which may not be cruelty-free.
  3. Companies that cause cruelty to and death of animals, for example, certain automobile manufacturers that use cow hide upholstery or paint companies that use bones in their paints. These are companies in which we should refrain from investing.
  4. Companies that directly supply to other companies who perpetrate cruelty on animals, for example, manufacturers of animal feeds supplying to the poultry or aqua industry; or the suppliers of chemicals, auxiliaries, and dyes selling their products to the leather goods industry; and so on. These are also companies in which we should refrain from investing.   
  
How to procure the BWC Investment Guide for the Ethical Investor: To procure a hard copy of this nuanced Guide that assists you in making ethical investments, you can write to BWC at admin@bwcindia.org. To procure a soft copy of the Guide, you can download it from the BWC website by clicking this link.

A call to action: The BWC Investment Guide provides a starting point to align our investments with our values. The above mentioned classifications are fluid and each year the Guide undergoes modifications to reflect the new trends. For example, some companies have moved from the questionable categories to the ‘green’ or ‘appropriate to be invested in’ category because they have satisfied the BWC by withdrawing any practice that caused harm to animals. 

As investors and consumers, we wield considerable power to influence compassionate action on part of profit making companies. We can call or email the company representatives and let them know why they are losing out on a certain section of socially responsible investors. In the same vein, we can let the companies know that we'd be willing to invest more if they expand their cruelty-free line and eliminate suspicious business. There is a good chance that the companies in suspicious categories will be obligated to re-think their strategies with education and awareness reaching a critical mass. Lastly, we can encourage the proven ethical companies and reiterate to them the good job they are doing. It goes without saying that consumer and investor pressure can have a positive impact on animals and the environment at large.

Let’s take a pledge today to invest ethically. The BWC Investment Guide helps us make the start.

“As custodians of the planet it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love, and compassion. That these animals suffer through human cruelty is beyond understanding. Please help to stop this madness.” ~Richard Gere, American Actor~

For more articles in this blog containing references to BWC, you can click this link.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegan Soan Papdi from ‘Haldiram’s’


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

Haldiram's is a very popular brand for a host of sweets and savories in India, and a line of vegetarian restaurants in the National Capital Region (NCR). Haldiram's sweets and savories are also exported to many countries abroad that have a sizable Indian population.

One of Haldiram’s largest selling items according to the Haldiram’s website is the Soan Papdi. Soan Papdi is a very popular Indian sweet that is flaky in texture; and made primarily from gram flour topped with almonds, pistachios, and cardamom. In addition, the Soan Papdi recipe may or may not contain ghee (clarified butter) or milk. Where ghee or milk is present, the Soan Papdi ceases to be vegan. However, one variety of Soan Papdi from Haldiram’s contains Peanut Oil and Palmolein Oil instead. This variety of Soan Papdi is suitable for vegans. These boxes are yellow and red in color; with the yellow box marked as ‘Export Quality’.

Please note that Haldiram’s makes several varieties of Soan Papdi and not all are vegan; only one variety described above is. The ones that are not vegan are the ‘chocolate’, ‘orange’, ‘coconut’ flavors, and the one labeled as made from ‘pure ghee’. These non-vegan varieties contain synthetic colors and flavors, skimmed milk powder, and ghee. The good news is that you won’t see the non-vegan varieties around so much; you are likely to find the vegan-friendly variety more often on the shelves of most stores. However, before purchasing please read the ‘Ingredients’ at the back of the box.

As for the taste – Haldiram’s vegan Soan Papdi is delicious – the flakes simply melt in the mouth and satiate your craving for that ‘something sweet’!

Availability: Haldiram’s vegan Soan Papdi is available all over India in most neighborhood stores and supermarkets.

Cost factor: Very affordable, both for home consumption and to give away as gifts.
 
“We should think of drinking milk the way we think of smoking cigars. Some people like it, some hate it, but it is not necessary and, in fact, carries health risks that people need to be aware of.” ~Dr. Neal Barnard, Founder and President of ‘Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’~

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Vegan Muesli from ‘Bagrry’s’ and a Note about E Numbers


For more vegan breakfast cereals reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Here’s another quick breakfast meal that vegans can enjoy: ‘Crunchy Muesli’ from Bagrry’s. Please note that Bagrry’s has numerous varieties of muesli and only one variety is vegan-friendly: the one with the label ‘No Added Sugar’. It is simple to identify this variety; other than the label, this variety does not list ‘honey’ as an ingredient. Also, be assured that the two E numbers mentioned under the ingredients, INS 322 & INS 306, are derived from soya and not from animal parts.

Availability: Bagrry’s ‘No Added Sugar’ variety of vegan-friendly muesli is available in all modern trade centers across the country. Just in case you have difficulty finding the product in your city, please contact the Company directly by clicking this link.


What are E numbers?

E numbers are food additives in categories such as color, preservative, antioxidant, stabilizer, emulsifier, acidity regulator, and flavor enhancer to name a few. Each of these categories has numerous distinct numbers attached to them – these are the E numbers. ‘E’ pertains to ‘European’ conveying that the food additives represented by these E numbers have been permitted for use by the ‘European Union’. E numbers correspond to the International Numbering System (INS) and vice-versa. You will find these E numbers/INS numbers in most processed food packages just like INS 322 & INS 306 mentioned in the ‘No Added Sugar’ variety of Bagrry’s muesli.

 

What is it that vegans must know about E numbers?

All the food additives represented by E numbers may not be from plant sources. The Explore E Numbers and The Vegetarian Society websites provide a list of E numbers that should be avoided because they are derived from animals. The websites also list E numbers that vegans should be wary of because those could be derived either from plants or animals. You can find out the source of each E number from the Explore E Numbers website by clicking this link and from The Vegetarian Society website by clicking this link.


Suppose you find an E number on a product that can be from both plant as well as animal sources, how do you make sure about the source?

One way is to look for the ‘green’ vegetarian symbol on the product package. The other way is to write to the company to seek clarification. It is a good idea to do the latter because that sends out strong signals to the company that we know what these numbers are all about and we are serious about finding out their source basis which we can decide to purchase the product. More often than not, companies respond as this is a very sensitive matter. You will find the email address of the consumer cell of the company printed on the product package itself.   

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Black Civil Rights Leader & Clergyman~

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

‘Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook’


We’ve have been longing for a vegan cookbook and Veganomicon caught our eye and captured our heart. Written in easy style and laced with chatty-style humor, this cookbook is a pleasure to read and follow.

In the words of authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, Veganomicon is a “big, bold vegan cookbook that doesn’t hold back any punches”. It is indeed a fat book at 270 pages with 250 recipes. The authors explain:
“Our mission in life is to prove that vegan food doesn't have to be repetitive, difficult, or inaccessible... Tradition always starts somewhere and we hope that something in these pages will inspire a few new seedlings of tradition to take root.”

There is a lot of interesting trivia about cooking techniques strewn all across the cookbook with insights on the ingredients that makes a particular dish delicious. Drawing inspiration from cuisines all over the world, this cookbook emphasizes on convenient food, some of which are presented in bullet points below:
•    Snacks, Appetizers, Little Meals, Dips, and Spreads – Consists of recipes such as potato latkes, stuffed mushrooms, asparagus and spinach dips, sushi, hummus, and many others.
•    Brunch – Consists of recipes for waffles, pancakes, fries, sandwiches, and crepes.
•    Salads and Dressings – Contains mix n match recipes and you’d be surprised at the number of dishes that can be turned out from the greens and the veggies!
•    Mix n Match – Includes everything from rice and potato to the barbecued tofu.
•    Soups – This is our favorite section that gives tips on how to load your bowl with tummy-filling fiber and other nutrients.
•    One Pot Meals, Casseroles, and Stove Top Specialties – This consists of Vegan-style pot pies. Look out for pumpkin saag and other Indian curries!
•    Pasta, Noodles, and Risottos – A lot of herbs and sauces with a liberal sprinkling of vegetables is the highlight of this section.
•    Cookies – Who can resist the charm of a plateful of cookies?! This section consists of recipes for brownies, whole grain cookies, and other baked goodies.
•    Desserts – There is a whole range of dessert recipes at the end of the cookbook.

You can checkout the visual treats of the dishes from Veganomicon by clicking this link.

About the authors of Veganomicon

Veganomicon is written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Isa is America's most popular Vegan chef. Both authors are founders of Post Punk Kitchen that offers a podcast of their online Vegan cooking.

Are the recipes in Veganomicon easy to make?

Veganomicon contains recipes varying from the extremely simple to the complex. While there are a few recipes that are completely unheard of in this part of the world, there are many others that can be attempted over a weekend. You can definitely modify them with locally available ingredients to suit your preferences. However, these recipes must not be attempted in haste. You might have to scurry to Google to see the images of a lot of ingredients and, we repeat, this is a weekend cookbook that needs lot of dedication and love.

Is this cookbook really meant for India/Indians?

While we’re lucky to be living in India where you can easily veganize many dishes, one might wonder whether we really need the recipes from Veganomicon. But we’re more than convinced that if you love cooking, you will end up adding a lot more dishes to your repertoire. This cookbook is a great reference for those special occasions when you crave to eat or serve something you’ve not attempted before.

Will the recipes turn out as in the cookbook?

Some are simple recipes with very little margin for error. But for the difficult ones, you should be able to get around them with practice. As you use the cookbook more frequently, things will start to fall in place.

Is the cookbook easy to understand?

There are cooking tips, preparation tips, nutritional facts, and icons flagging off pages indicating ingredients that are soya-fee, gluten free, low-fat, etc. There is a list of recipes than can be prepared in less than 45 minutes as well. However, while most dishes are easy to understand, in some, the measurements are indicated in ounces and cups. This may get a little difficult to understand for the non-US reader.

Where do I get/order Veganomicon from?

Veganomicon is difficult to find in a bookstore. You can order through flipkart.com by clicking this link. The delivery takes about two weeks as it is shipped from USA.

Verdict

Veganomicon is an honest book on a mission. It is an able cookbook worthy of adorning many Vegan kitchens. Just go and get one.

“One of the more exciting benefits of good nutrition is the prevention of diseases that are thought to be due to genetic predisposition.” ~Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University in the book, ‘The China Study’~

For more recipe-related articles featured in this blog, you can click this link.

Friday, August 13, 2010

‘Little Italy’ Vegetarian Italian Chain of Restaurants


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

Little Italy chain of restaurants with presence in 18 cities in India has its history embedded in the La Pizzeria restaurant at Bund Garden in Pune. This is where it all began in the early 1990s. Around 1995, the La Pizzeria Company expanded to include a full range of Italian vegetarian cuisine alongwith the pizzas. The name “Little Italy” evolved. Although the restaurant at Bund Garden in Pune continues to be known as La Pizzeria, all the other restaurants in different cities are attaining popularity by the name Little Italy.

Image from the Little Italy website
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Little Italy provides you one of the best experiences in Italian vegetarian/vegan dining. While the menu is primarily vegetarian, the Company is extremely sensitive to the requests of vegan and Jain diners. In fact, some dishes on the menu are already vegan; the others can be served vegan on your request. The Manager of La Pizzeria at Bund Garden in Pune informed us that the restaurant receives at least 2-3 requests for dairy-free (primarily cheese-free) dishes per day. Good news, that!

At Little Italy you can enjoy a wide variety of Italian cuisine from the thin crust delectable pizzas to the starters, soups, salads, risottos, pastas, enchiladas, and so on. Remember that you can get the dishes veganized

Delicious Vegan "Pizza Mellino"
Little Italy contact details: Little Italy has restaurants across 13 cities in the country: Bangalore, Baroda, Chennai, Coimbatore, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nasik, Pune, Ranchi, and Shirdi. Some cities have more than one Little Italy restaurant. To find out the location details of a Little Italy restaurant, please visit the 'Restaurants' page in the company’s website by clicking here.

Timings: Open for lunch and dinner from 12:00noon to 3:30pm and 6:30pm to 11:30pm (timings may differ slightly from one branch to the other). Open all days in the week.

Cost factor: A meal for two can cost upto Rs.600/- or more.

Looking at Cheese with a Vegan eye: The market in the West is teeming with Vegan versions of animal-based cheese. In India, compassionate small scale businesses have started experimenting with Vegan cheese making. Increasingly, people are eliminating the need for animal cheese in food items that traditionally demanded it. Are you wondering how a dairy-cheese-less pizza/pasta/risotto/sandwich would taste? Well try it then, you will be assured of one thing: you will not miss the dairy cheese! Learn about what exactly is unvegan and unethical about the dairy cheese, and the alternatives available in the article, What’s in Your Cheese? from the Vegetarian Resource Group.

“I believe that a vegan diet causes less suffering than a diet centered around animal products. Animals are sentient creatures with their own wills, and it seems wrong to force our will onto another creature just because we're able to.” ~Moby, Musician~

Monday, August 9, 2010

The ‘Talera Group’ of All-Veg Hotels, Pune


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

The Talera Group of Hotels in Pune was founded by Shri Motilal Talera in the 1940s. It all started with a small lodge in Wilson Garden, Pune. The business has now expanded to six hotels in different parts of Pune city. Supposedly the largest group of hotels in Pune, all six hotels under the Talera Group is vegetarian. This means that all the restaurants and cafes in each of the six hotels are vegetarian and comfortably vegan on request. Each hotel is suited to the specific needs of different travelers. A brief description of the hotels is as follows:


1) Hotel Woodland: A 3-star hotel situated within walking distance from the Pune Railway Station and at a 20-minute distance from the airport. Click this link to find out the contact details of Hotel Woodland. The restaurant attached to Hotel Woodland is called Mynt which has been reviewed in an earlier post on Vegan India!

2) Hotel Sunderban: Located next door to Osho Commune International and surrounded by lush greenery, peacocks, and singing birds, Hotel Sunderban is also known as the 'meditation hotel'. Click this link to find out the contact details of Hotel Sunderban. The restaurant attached to Hotel Sunderban is called Dario's which has been reviewed in an earlier post on Vegan India!

3) The Oakwood: A 4-star business hotel located in Deccan Gymkhana amidst the merry buzz of Pune city. Click this link to find out the contact details of The Oakwood. The restaurant attached to The Oakwood is called Oakwood Café that serves primarily to resident guests.

4) Smart Inn: Also situated in the Deccan Gymkhana locality on Fergusson College Road, the Smart Inn is “smart” for various reasons that you can check out in this link. We liked the fact that a family accommodation for four members with two interconnecting rooms costs Rs.2000/- per night only. Smart Inn is based on the concept of  'self service'. The hotel does not have a restaurant; however a complimentary breakfast is provided, which as mentioned before is vegetarian/vegan. Click this link to find out the contact details of Smart Inn.

5) Hotel Meru: A 2-star hotel with homely rooms situated in the Boat Club locality of Pune. Click this link to find out the contact details of Hotel Meru. Hotel Meru also has an attached restaurant that serves food to resident guests only.

6) Central Lodge: This is the small lodge that Shri Motilal Talera started the Talera Group of Hotels with. Central Lodge is at a stone’s throw from the Pune Railway Station. The cost for each bed in a shared accommodation is Rs.300/- only. However, there is no restaurant or café attached to Central Lodge. For more information about Central Lodge, you can call at 020-26121313.

“To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.” ~The Buddha~

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Organic-Vegan Peanut Butter from ‘Navadarshanam’


For different varieties of plant-based/vegan butter reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Most branded peanut butter in the market list hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugars, stabilizers, artificial flavors and preservatives, and a host of chemicals with long names under ‘Ingredients’. However, the ingredient list in the handmade peanut butter from Navadarshanam is short and meaningful: this peanut butter contains organically-grown peanuts only. Further, the peanut butter jar carries the declaration “No preservative or hydrogenated oil added”.

About Navadarshanam

Navadarshanam or “new vision” is a registered charitable Trust that operates from a hilly land bordering the Thally Reserve Forest, 50 kilometers south of Bangalore. The mission of the Trust is “to provide facilities and a forum” to come out of the cycle of “alienation of the individual from self, nature, and the Creative Power” that goes “hand in hand with societal disintegration and ecological destruction”. To learn more about Navadarshanam’s mission, people involved, activities, and so on please click here.

One of the many activities of Navadarshanam Trust is organic and natural farming. Apart from peanut butter, Navadarshanam has a line of organic food products and many of them are Vegan. You can check out the product line by clicking here.

You can also visit Navadarshanam for short educational/exposure visits. For more information on the visits and to read the policies for visitors, please click here. The food served during the visits is strictly vegetarian.

Availability of Navadarshanam peanut butter

Navadarshanam’s peanut butter is available in quite a few outlets in Bangalore (list below). If you do not live in Bangalore, you can have the peanut butter couriered to anywhere you live in the country. To place your order, you need to get in touch with Nagarajan at navadarshanam@gmail.com.

The following stores in Bangalore retail Navadarshanam’s peanut butter: Namdhari’s Fresh (through a number of stores), Mother Earth (Domlur store), Fresh Earth (Indira Nagar store), and Nisarga Shoppe (Lake View Farm, Whitefield).

Price factor

A 300 grams jar costs Rs.120/-

Endnote

Today we link up to this article from Satavic Farms that discusses the eighteen ways of how 'modern farming' (as opposed to organic farming) affects our Earth. You can read the article to understand why we must support organically grown foods.

“Organic farming is rooted in ancient knowledge passed down through generations. Long before science could tell us why certain farming methods would produce greater crop yields, organic farmers were learning the hard way what worked and what didn't – and sharing their knowledge with others.” ~David Suzuki, Environmentalist~

Sunday, August 1, 2010

God’s Own Butter: The ‘Avocado’ Fruit


For different varieties of plant-based/vegan butter reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

It seems that when the Gods conceptualized ‘butter’, They put the formula in the Avocado fruit and sent it on Earth. Today’s story comes straight from Nature’s factory: The Tree. It takes a little ingenuity from humans to ‘realize’ Nature’s Grand Plans. We attribute this story to our Vegan friend Amruta Ubale who brought this Grand Plan to our notice!

The Avocado fruit looks like the image on the right. According to this article on Avocado production in India, Avocado is grown in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Sikkim. Avocado has been hailed as “the most nutritive among fruits” and regarded as “the most important contribution of the New World to human diet”. You can check the nutritive value of Avocado in the same article. According to the article, the Avocado pulp is “rich in proteins (up to 4%) and fat (up to 30%)... Avocados have the highest energy value (245 cal/100 g) of any fruit besides being a reservoir of several vitamins and minerals.” Avocado is also considered to be among the Top 10 Anti-Aging Foods. Very interestingly, all the ten anti-ageing foods listed in this linked article are derived from plant-based sources! Now, doesn't that say something!

So coming back to the point of this story, what is the Avocado and ‘butter’ connection… When you slice the fruit from the center, you find a seed in the middle and the white/yellow portion on the two halves. This white or yellow portion is the Avocado pulp or the ‘butter’. You can scrape off this pulp and use it to butter your toasts and sandwiches. Avocado butter spreads evenly, has a pretty neutral taste, and feels d i v i n e in the mouth. You can spice it up with herbs and toppings of your choice. How about checking out one recipe?

Enjoying an Avocado-butter Toast with Sautéed Mushrooms

The recipe for Avocado-butter toast with Sautéed Mushrooms is contributed by Amruta. It’s amazingly simple. We never imagined before that this could also be one way of eating the Avocado fruit! Here’s the recipe – simple, delicious, and nutritious!
Sauté the mushrooms (we used organic cold-pressed Safflower Oil from 24 Letter Mantra to sauté) with salt as per taste and keep aside.

Toast multigrain Vegan bread (we used a variety from Bagels & Bakes).

Scrape the butter from the Avocado fruit and spread it generously on the toasted bread. Do not scoop the butter; scraping it instead helps to spread the butter evenly.

Load the toast with the sautéed mushrooms and apply dashes of ground black pepper.

Your avocado-butter toast with sautéed mushroom is ready. Isn't it divinely yum?!

Smoothies, Salads, Ice creams, Dips

Avocado tastes good in smoothies, salads, ice creams, and as dips as well. You will find many recipes on the internet. Here are some lined for you; click the links to learn more.

Avocado smoothie from ‘Natural News’
Avocado salad from ‘Veggie Wedgie’
Avocado ice cream from ‘A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise’
Avocado dip from ‘Vegan on the Prowl’

The Goodness of Avocado Continues

Avocado has proved to be very beneficial for the hair and skin. Here are some quick homemade Avocado beauty recipes:
For skins with rashes and roughness: Apply Avocado paste to make the skin smooth
For sun-burnt skin: Rub the pulp of a ripe Avocado to soothe the skin
As face pack/moisturizer for dry skin: Apply mashed Avocado to moisturize dry skin. The inside of the Avocado peel works as a good moisturizer.
Hair care: Apply Avocado with a dash of olive oil to make your hair soft and shiny
For puffy eye treatment: Avocado works magic for puffy eyes
There you are, b e a u t i f u l and h e a l t h y from inside and out!

Purchasing Avocado

Avacado is easily available in many fruit stalls and supermarkets in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Sikkim as they are grown there. One regular-sized fruit costing anything between Rs.15/- to Rs.30/- can suffice for one meal for a family of four if we can put it that way. Outside the states mentioned above, you may have to pay a slightly higher price. Also, if you want to extract the butter from the fruit, please make sure that the fruit is ripe. The outer covering should feel soft when the fruit is ripe. You can also purchase the fruit with a hard outer covering and ripen it at home by wrapping the fruit in newspaper sheets and placing in a dark spot overnight or for however long it takes for the fruit to ripen. Usually, the shop you buy from will be able to give you an estimate of the ripening time.

And by the way, you can grow your own Avocado too! Rithika from The Green Stove tells you how to do that. Click here to find out!

“There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants. Plant foods have dramatically more antioxidants, fiber and minerals than animal foods.” ~Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University & Author of ‘The China Study’~