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Going the vegan way

Vegans from Bengaluru will organise ‘The Kind Fest’ on March 31 to promote veganism.

For most part of her life, Nitya Ramakrishnan knew of the suffering and killing of animals in slaughterhouses. She, initially a vegetarian, thought she was not responsible for it, directly. In dairy and poultry farms, which are usually away from the urban vicinity, too, animals suffered. Of this, Nitya wasn’t entirely aware until she chanced upon Cowspiracy, a documentary that explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, five years ago. The following day onwards, she became a vegan.

“It was an overnight change,” she says.

But change, especially on a societal level, often doesn’t occur overnight. And, only a collective effort, Nitya believes, can effect it among a large group. Which is why she and several vegans from the city — with the support of Whitefield Rising (a citizens’group), Veganfirst and Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation — are organising ‘The Kind Fest’ on March 31 at Forum Neighbourhood Mall to promote veganism.

The fest will attempt to make people aware of several aspects, which, Nitya hopes, will make them go vegan.

“As Indians, most of us are compassionate, which is why we can’t watch an animal being slaughtered,” Nitya says. “But using animal products [even if it doesn’t involve killing] also harms the animal and environment. We help people understand this.”

Second aspect is of the several myths associated with veganism.

One of the common apprehensions people have about turning vegan, according to Nitya, is losing out on essential nutrients that they derive from dairy products. She attempts to dispel this notion with a personal example. “My family, except my son, has been vegan for a while now. My husband plays sport twice a day and he is fit. And, personally, I feel much better after switching to veganism,” she says.

Another myth about veganism is that it is expensive. “Of course, if you are going to get imported almond milk as a substitute for cow’s milk, it can get expensive. But the idea is to buy and consume local plant-based products, which has the least impact on the environment and is less expensive,” she says.

Nitya says it is easy to be a vegan in South India. “Most of our foods are plant-based. Even some of the payasams are made of coconut milk. The only thing that we need to do away with majorly is ghee that we occasionally use.”

Three information desks at ‘The Kind Fest’ will provide information on veganism and over 30 vendors will sell vegan products. “We live in a world where customer is king. Only when there’s an increased demand, there will be supply of more vegan products,” says Nitya.

She is not scared about the possibility of the fest’s message being perceived as preachy or aggressive. “What matters is the message. Not how people perceive it. As long as we make sense in what we say, it’s fine,” she says.

“The truth is that there is suffering because of the choices we make as a consumer. Of course, you could choose to ignore it. But there is nothing good that can come out of violence. And, there is violence on the plate itself!”

Date: 29 April 2019
Source: https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/vegan-fest-starts-in-bengaluru-nitya-ramakrishnan/article26677218.ece