Vegan India Conference, a style of life and change

Picture credit: www.pixabay.com/ Mittmac

The world is striding ahead towards an idea of harmony and a better tomorrow while embracing and considering every living being under the sun. In a first of its kind, a vegan conference on a massive scale will be held in India.

The 4th International Edition of the World Vegan Organisation, as part of the joint initiative with Vegan First, will host the Vegan India Conference and was announced and has been scheduled for July 6 and 7 in New Delhi.

Veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism. Though the term was first used in the United Kingdom in 1944, a proper vegan community had already been in place in India for about 20 years. In recent years, the West is already on the veganism track while India is taking slow but steady steps on the same.

India can be considered to offer ideal grounds for the growth of veganism. For basics, there are shops, apartments, neighbourhoods and even whole towns which are entirely meat and egg-free and to add on there is clear and major political support against animal slaughter.

But the true essence of veganism runs deeper. It is a way of living which intends to exclude, all possible and practicable forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

As a diet and as a lifestyle, it excludes the use of any animal products to produce food, clothing, or anything else which incorporates it, in daily life.

'Ethical vegans' go a notch higher and avoid or find alternatives to animal products like skin (leather or fur), toothpaste to sugar (can be refined using charred animal bones) and other things that cause animal suffering during production.

There are several local and international initiatives that have made a difference and moved the needle on veganism in India. It's gaining steady popularity in the bigger cities, but vegan communities and vegan restaurants are also popping up in unexpected places like Punjab, known the world over for their rich cuisine dripping with ghee, butter and cream.

Veganism is seeing growth in two types of markets in India. With the first one shaping up in cities where entrepreneurship and eco-conscious initiatives thrive, like Bangalore, Mumbai and Auroville, and the second is in areas with yoga and meditation retreats and ashrams, such as Goa, Rishikesh and Dharamshala. It is gradually turning into an easier transition and even aspirational with prominent vegan celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Virat Kohli and many more adopting a vegan lifestyle.

Conferences and festivals are throwing some light on this slightly unconventional lifestyle and also giving it a catchy twist by organising food fests revolving around the same. For instance, Bangalore held its first vegan festival in 2018, called Wilderfest, with several of the city's vegan entrepreneurs and food startups.

Ahimsa Fest in Mumbai was jam-packed with thought leaders, doctors and entrepreneurs who had an ample amount of information on a variety of aspects for the vegan movement in India. The oldest running vegan festival is organised by the Satvic Vegan Society in a forest on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Some go for it with reasons of health or environmental concerns and the other set considers these as side benefits with the central motive of animal issues and how we allow them to live.

Nonetheless, it is a change in the making, recognising and reaching out to the calling of veganism, coincidentally an anagram for 'saving me'.

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