The Karnataka-born and Mumbai-based traveller has been a lover of nature and animals since the age of 17. Coming from a typical Sindhi family, her diet consisted of dairy and meat. However, since her trek in 2019 in the Hampta Pass region, her ever-growing love for animals pushed her to research more about the vegan lifestyle.
How and when did your journey towards veganism start
It was a regular Monday afternoon, June 13, 2020. I was watching a TedTalk by Ed Winters - Every Argument Against Veganism - where he said, &ldquoFundamentally, I called myself an animal lover, yet I paid for animals to suffer and die on my behalf. Through all the excuses I used to make, I realized that my values contradicted my actions, and deep down, I could find no real justification.&rdquo This was it. I became vegan that very minute. If you like animals, the first thing you do is to stop harming them, in any way. It was as simple as that. I didn&rsquot know how the journey of veganism would be, but I knew I never want to consume anything that causes harm to animals in any way. It&rsquos been a year and a half since I turned vegan and there still are days my friends and family can&rsquot fathom the decision, but I know in my heart that turning vegan has certainly been the best and the most selfless decision of my life.
DAISY MAY QUEEN
Daisy from Rishikesh is an example of how meticulous a person can be about the change you want to see around you. She turned to a vegetarian lifestyle at the age of 17 and used to go to a temple belonging to an Indian Hindu Vaishnav institution named International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina. From a young age, she was interested in Indian philosophy. She was also influenced by the activities in the temple and the vegetarian prasad (food offering) that was served here. Later, as she joined an NGO and found out about the suffering of cows and calves during the milking process, she was drawn towards veganism.
What is travelling vegan like When you do find it difficult, what are your hacks
In the beginning, vegan travellers used to face a lot of hardship. People did not recognise what you were talking about when I asked if they have vegan food. Nowadays, it is much easier in a lot of countries. My favourite hack during those days was to mix different items from different dishes. For example, if I found dishes such as "sausage with roasted potatoes", "beef with seasonal vegetable salad" and "rice with chicken" on the menu, I would ask for rice, potatoes and salad together. So, basically, the restaurant had no trouble in putting together a dish which was different from the menu.
Did you find it difficult to get vegan food while on the road
The worst country in terms of vegan food for me was the Maldives. I was not staying in a 5-star resort but a local island and no one knew what veganism was. Besides, Maldives had very few options which consisted of vegetables and fruits - food they have to buy from abroad (they do not grow them in their islands). So, I lived on rice and dark chocolate.
The first vegan and the second Indian civilian to summit Mt Manaslu at 8163 metres, Kuntal has been vegan for over 19 years now, even during his summit of Mt Everest. Being brought up in a household where he was taught, "animals are sentient and emotional beings with individual characters, and have as much right to live freely and happily as we do,&rdquo Kuntal has spent many sleepless nights thinking that people are so unaware about the environmental benefits of being vegan.
Why do you think veganism needs to be promoted more
To me, veganism is about animal liberation and saving the lives of animals. That's first and foremost. Animals are here sharing the planet with us, they are not here to be used by us. At the same time, understanding the fact that animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, consumes the largest portions of foodgrains on the planet, which is leading to forest land being converted into farmland to produce food for the animals, huge amounts of biodiversity and rainforest loss, huge amounts of the stress on water reserves of the planet, it makes utmost sense to turn vegan both for the animals and the planet. We, as consumers, have the power to change the world. What we demand is going to be produced.
Amelie turned vegan around 2010. It began with her training for a half-marathon where she realised that her body performed better and had more energy without meat. She began noting her eating habits. Soon, she dissociated herself from activities that required exploiting animals, especially for consumption.
Could you share some memorable anecdotes about trying to access vegan meals while travelling
In 2018, I took part in an organized fundraiser bicycle tour from Poland to Germany and didn't mention to the organizer I was vegan because I just assumed there would be vegan options. So, I cycled 400 kms and ate only potatoes for three days.
What has your journey been like as a vegan traveller
Things have changed a whole lot since I turned vegan over a decade ago. Back in 2014, I took a one-way ticket to South East Asia and started a blog to document my travel as a vegan in this part of the world. In some countries, it was challenging, as the understanding of veganism differs greatly from one country to the next. The language barrier also made it hard in some cases. But for the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be to travel as a vegan. For example, all Buddhist countries have great vegan offerings, because monks are vegan. The most challenging for me was rural Bulgaria.
Aditi believes that travelling as a vegan does require a little bit of research and preparation. It's not always easy. Depending on the place, people may not understand your needs or may be confused by your requests. She had been a vegetarian all her life and watched a lot of PETA videos out of her love for animals. In 2017, she finally took the plunge and decided to go vegan. As a foodie herself, she recommends looking for "vegan city name" or the app HappyCow to find good vegan food anywhere.
What were some of the major challenges you face as a vegan traveller
People do not understand what we don't consume even after listing everything out saying there's "only a little bit of egg/milk" in the item Some are not willing to make the effort of omitting an item and just refuse to provide a vegan meal. But in most places, people are very open and understanding - especially, given the rise of allergies across the world, it would be the restaurant's loss to refuse to adapt.
Which, and where, has been your most memorable vegan meal while travelling
My most memorable meal was in Lisbon, Portugal. It was a buttery ravioli and it was incredibly delicious. In India, it would be delicious vegan food that was made especially for me at the Oberoi Sukhvilas in Chandigarh. We were there in the winter and everything from sarson ka saag to makke ki roti was made vegan.
From turning vegan because of skin allergies to carrying emergency vegan food internationally for professional football matches while representing Bengaluru FC, Kean has taken all the challenges as a learning curve and has been an inspired vegan since 2015. Being a footballer, he cannot just eat unhealthy vegan food like french fries and mentions that everyone should treat their food as a medicine for their body and eat right.
What would be some lessons you have learnt while travelling dairy-free
Sometimes, even after explaining that you want food without paneer or cream or less oil, you still get exactly what you did not order. In such cases, I just separate it from the dish into another plate or ask for a replacement, but most likely they're going inside and just separating it themselves and not actually making the dish from scratch.
Any tips for travellers who would want to try veganism
For anyone and everyone starting on or trying out veganism, I recommend the same thing. Make sure you do your research about the foods and the locations that you are going to. List down the restaurants and what they serve. If you want to go a step further, contact them and ask them if they can accommodate your preferences. These days, the menu is available on food aggregator apps. So you can easily view the menu and also find out about eating joints near your place of stay. Try out being vegan before you travel so you know what works best for your body, what your likes and dislikes are. Now you can pack food items such as oats, nuts, seeds, fruits. Plan ahead so you know what and where you can buy groceries if your travel duration is long or if your hotel doesn't have too many options.