For many meat eaters, giving up meat let alone dairy may seem daunting, but a growing trend even amongst South Asians to give up all animal products is picking up steam.
“I think the biggest misconception is what will one eat or other similar questions like what will one eat for protein etc. Or will they just have to eat salad greens?” says Richa Hingle, author of the book, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.
Richa Hingle, born in India and living in Seattle, says the choice to go vegan was a very personal one especially as a dog owner.
“I chose to be vegan when I realized how I was giving profound love and compassion to one animal (my dog) and causing death and eating another animal or animal product. Meat and dairy industries are not only responsible for torture and death of 59 billion animals per year, but they also affect the environment, the planet and ones own health,” said Hingle.
“Once I read more and more about it, I started transitioning to a vegan diet. Once the diet transition was almost complete, we also started eliminating animal products from our home, clothing, shoes etc.”
Her knowledge empowered her and the words came fast and furious. Richa started experimenting with writing about her vegan adventures in the kitchen in 2009. That gave birth to her blog, Vegan Richa,
“I was home on a long recovery from a surgery and later couldn’t go back to my software job. So I started blogging to note the recipes that I was cooking up,” said Hingle. “Soon the blog started getting followers who liked what I would put on it. It took a few years to learn food photography and publish regularly.”
She says she gets hundreds of questions about how to incorporate protein in a vegan diet and she has no shortage of answers.
“I have close to 700 answers to that on the blog in the way of recipes and 150 more in my book. Most recipes are easy, full of beans, veggies, lentils and rarely are salads.”
Mom always made sure we had fresh food on the table while growing up. We were all picky kids, so she would have to chop up certain veggies very small to hide them in certain dishes, use spices and flavors that we loved. We learned to appreciate the fresh, healthy home cooked food from her.
For South Asians, there is no shortage of diversity in our diets and Hingle says the notion of ‘giving up’ something may seem next to impossible. But it’s a lot easier than we think.
“Indian or not, everyone feels that they will have to give up eating things like cheese, other dairy products, ice creams, meats, Indian sweets that are heavy on dairy etc. For most of these, it is not about “giving up” anything. We (vegans) eat all the same stuff, it is just not made of animal ingredients. We eat cheese, ice creams, butter, Indian sweets, but they are not made of dairy. So it isn’t about giving up, but finding an alternate/substitute.”
Hingle adds with the growing demand for vegan products, it is much easier to find the alternatives for almost everything in stores too. And the change is happening in her hometown of India as well.
“There is a growing community of both dietary and lifestyle vegans in India too,” said Hingle. “Lots of plant based, natural, vegan restaurants opening up in major cities. Non-dairy alternatives are becoming easily available. In fact, many actors and actresses are starting to go vegan. For example, Aamir Khan recently mentioned that he is on a vegan diet.”
Her passion has not only led to a massive following on her blog but also on social media. With 390,000 followers on her blog and over 43,000 on instagram alone, it’s no surprise that her vegan knowledge has given birth to her first book, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen.
“Readers would often mention that I should write a book and I was warming up to that idea,” said Hingle. “I was approached by two publishers in the same month to write a print cookbook. I decided on a few concepts and after a few back on forths, I decided on an Indian Vegan cookbook with one of the publishers.”
She says the book was written with the US (North American) audience in mind because most of her readers are from the US.
“So the spice names, dal names etc. are American/English names which makes the book easy to use.”
Some of her favourite recipes such as rajma, butter sauce with seitan or vegan chicken, vegetable jalfrezi, lasooni sauce or makhani sauce are all featured in the book. Her favourite comfort food is still daal which she says is perfect for moms and kids.
A look at one of Richa’s Favourite Recipes:
Where to find Richa’s book www.veganricha.com/
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