Celebrate Holi the Vegan way

By Swati Tiwari

Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has ”“ Margaret Mead

A small and unusual group of people assembled in Hyde Park, Sydney on the 10th of March 2019. They included people in the age groups of 4-54 years but they had one simple thing in common. They were all driven by their desire to celebrate a cruelty free Holi. Most of them were either strict vegans or on their journey to learn more about adopting a cruelty free lifestyle.

The group came together under the banner of “Desi Vegans of Australia” with the purpose of bringing together vegans of Indian origin. It is a place to share their trials and tribulations, successes and failures, ideas and ideologies and last but definitely not the least plant based recipe ideas! They applied herbal colours and hugged each other. Then they had a delicious meal of papdi chat, gujia, chole, pohe, samosa accompanied by cool Thandai- a traditional holi drink.

So, what is veganism?

Veganism is a way of life that acknowledges that the Earth belongs to all its inhabitants equally, not just humans. Therefore, we need to respect all life forms. Vegans choose compassion over killing, kindness over cruelty and harmony over chaos. In real terms, it means that vegans do not eat animal flesh, or drink and eat animal bodily secretions such as milk, eggs and honey. They do not wear animal skin or fur, do not buy products tested on animals and do not support animal rides, circuses or zoos. In a nutshell they try to cause minimal harm to the planet and its inhabitants.

So, what was different in this Holi?

One might ask how was this Holi celebration any different?  Well, all the delicious spread made by the desi vegans was dairy free. They used milk alternatives such as organic soy, almond milk and cashew nuts, almonds and other nuts to give a rich and creamy texture to the thandai, gujhiya and yoghurt. And the best part was that one couldn’t even tell the difference!

Traditionally, India is a nation of cow lovers. Our love for cows shows itself very clearly in our scriptures, temples and in the food we make. Indian food relies heavily on desi ghee, yoghurt, cream, cheese and paneer. Unfortunately, our obsession with dairy has been extremely detrimental for the safety and well-being of our Gau Mata.

On being asked why, Priya Iyer, who works for a consulting firm explained that most cows in an industrial set up go to a slaughter house at the age 5-7 years to be processed as beef or leather. There are many other cruel practices, which are very common in the industrial animal agriculture set up. This is indeed a sad state of affairs and is not acceptable to vegans. The best way to stop these practices is by decreasing the demand by going meat and dairy free.  Vegetarians might say that we come from the land of Krishna and He used to drink milk. He cannot be wrong. Today’s truth is that the cows are treated as moneymaking machines unlike in those days. Priya Iyer also told us that she started eliminating animal products such as silk and pearls from her life almost thirteen years ago. Her husband Vishwanath Iyer, current secretary of Vegan NSW, who used to be a strict meat eater became vegan after getting inspired by his wife. Their four year old gorgeous and cheeky girl is a born vegan too.

Lipica, a young aspiring vegan who works at a financial institution also raised her concerns about the effect that animal agriculture is having on global warming. She said that most of us are concerned about climate change but many do not realise the catastrophic effect of meat, dairy and egg production on global warming. In Australia, animal agriculture emits about 50% of greenhouse gases and this is an alarming figure!

So what can one do?

Starting to cook plant-based meals is a great place to start. Celebrate cruelty free Holi, Diwali and all other festivals. It’s a wonderful way to involve more people and create awareness at the same time. It is good for the animals, the planet and our health so it’s a win win situation. It also totally fits in with our philosophy of Ahimsa and fills the heart with compassion and karuna.

It is important to equip yourself with more information about this grave issue. There are some inspirational and eye opening documentaries on Netflix to watch such as Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Okja, Forks over knives, What the Health. There are some great books too such as China Study by Colin T Campbell and The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle.

Go to bit.ly/JoeyVegan22 to take on the free vegan challenge or log on to savepoppy.com to learn more about the issue.

Swati Tiwari is the Founder of Desi Vegans of Australia

Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=12919