One of the first books for the growing vegan population of India, The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style! brings together recipes from no less than 50 leading names from the world of Bollywood, fashion and music. Anupam Kher, Dilip Kumar, Gulshan Grover, Hema Malini, John Abraham, Mahesh Bhatt, Om Pun, R. Madhavan, Rahul Khanna, Saira Banu, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan these are just a few who have contributed their favourite recipes, showing how it’s possible to incorporate a delicious, healthy vegan diet with no cholestrol in other words, one with no animal products, including dairy into your life.
Appetizing photographs and tips on how to run a vegan kitchen ensure that it will find a place on any shelf. With forewords from two internationally-renowned doctors and a leading fitness expert who explain how a nutritious vegan diet can help reverse heart disease, manage diabetes and reduce obesity, as well as promote fitness, this book is the perfect marriage of taste, glamour and health vegan style!
Throughout her career, which included heading the Peta India office for nine years, Anuradha Sawhney has been an active campaigner for animal rights and environmental issues. She has won many awards for her work, and Femina magazine ranked her amongst their 50 most powerful women in India. She has often appeared on national and international television debating the rights of animals and has been profiled in almost every major publication. She is a prolific writer of articles, and has been published in many major newspapers and magazines in India as rye11 as internationally She is considered the foremost authority on animal rights issues in India.
An episode of lifestyle-induced high cholesterol, triglycerides, hypertension and high sugar levels scared her. Her doctors wanted to place her on immediate medication. Because she prefers avoiding medicines as much as possible, she searched for alternatives to cure the conditions. Her determination and single-minded belief that the mind can conquer the body changed the shape of her life and led to this book. She now has a wellness center, Back to the Basics, via which she teaches people to take hack control of their lives using nutrition. People flock to her for her non-dairy feta cheese and vegan cheesecakes! An avid health enthusiast and firm believer in the power of a vegan lifestyle, she now lives in Pune with her husband arid seven: rescued cats, all of whom drive her honkers! She can be found at www.anuradhasawlnney.com
Anuradha Sawhney is the award-winning former head of PETA India, and has been instrumental in winning several large campaigns for animals. She was listed amongst the top SO most powerful women in India by Femina magazine.
If you want to live a healthy life, reverse certain forms of cancer, and not be beset with problems like heart disease and adult onset diabetes — or if you simply want to lose weight then this book is for you. If you care about the environment and animals, this book is for you. If you want to be fit and full of energy, you are in the right place, read on. If you want to know what NASA plans to feed its astronauts on their next trip to Mars, or if you want to know the health secrets of celebrities, then read this book!
The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style! is a collection of healthy vegan (vegetarian recipes which don’t use any milk or milk products) dishes from around the world and from different parts of India. Every recipe has been contributed by top Indian celebrities from Bollywood, the world of fashion, television and even music. These celebrities not necessarily be vegetarian or vegan themselves, but they took time out to share her favourite vegetarian, non-dairy recipes with me. Some of them sent me their own recipes, some of them who do not cook, asked their friends and family for recipes of the vegan dish they love best to eat.., they made a serious effort to get the recipes to you and my heartfelt thanks to them.
The forewords by renowned doctors, Dr Esselstyn Caldwell jr. and Dr Neal Barnard tell you about the importance of eating a nutritious plant-based diet to safeguard your body from heart disease, diabetes and a host of cancers. Health guru Mickey Mehta explains how a nutritious vegan diet gets your body fit and full of energy.
Whole grain, oil-free, plant-based diets are quickly becoming essential in today’s age of high cholesterol, obesity, lifestyle-based cancers, hypertension and adult onset diabetes. The recipes in this book fit the bill of being nutritious, whole grain and plant-based to at! Every dish is delicious, nutritious and absolutely cruelty free. And an added advantage: almost every dish can he made without using any oil if you so need.
I hope this book helps you think about new ways to follow a vegan diet and achieve good health.
My Vegan Journey
I turned vegan in August 2000, when I joined PETA India. I took this step since 1 was now going to be fighting for animals and could not fathom using them in any way. So, though 1 was vegetarian already, I turned vegan on the day I joined them. (A true confession: it took me many tries before I turned vegetarian for the final time: giving up mutton was easy enough, hut giving up chicken and fish one of the toughest things I’ve ever done). Within two months of joining, 1 was made the head of the India office, a position I held for over nine years, till I finally retired. During this time, I not only stayed vegan, I also found out that unimaginable cruelty is still being inflicted on our revered cows. In fact, my colleagues and I put together a report on the state of the dairy industry in India, which was very well received. Over 2,000Jains, who are Krishna bhakts and so have always drunk milk, actually vowed to never drink milk again and that is just one example! In the time since I joined PETA, till now, many more people have given up drinking milk for many reasons, some for the cruelty and many for health.
The idea to put together this collection of recipes came about as a result of a real life incident. I managed to reverse the onset of certain heart disease for me with the aid of nutrition-based vegan diet, along with light exercise. I learnt the importance of such a diet the hard way, when in January 2010 I was told that I was on the way to getting heart disease and maybe even diabetes! A routine blood test had shown that I had high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides as well borderline high sugar levels. I was advised immediate medication.
I was flabbergasted, as I had been vegan for ten years by then and had always thought that eating a vegan diet was all I needed to stay healthy. But on doing intensive research, I found out that just being vegan was not enough, it was equally important to consume the right kind of vegan food. Eating no animal products was one thing, but eating processed food, and chips and wafers and chiwda and samosas, just because they were vegan in no way was that a healthy diet! Added to this, I used a fair amount of oil while cooking, and was not averse to making pakodas on a rainy afternoon, or finger chips or potato wedges... in fact I looked forward to these foods and considered them treats to make my day better!
During my days with PETA, I had had the honour of knowing and working with Dr Esselstyn Caldwelljr and Dr Neal Barnard, world respected doctors specialising in using food to help people reverse serious problems like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes respectively. I knew they had both published books on their research. On reading their books Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease by Dr CaIdwell EsselstynJr., and Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes Without Drugs, I realised that just because I did not consume any food from an animal — in other words food with cholesterol and saturated fat in it — did not mean I could not develop heart disease or get adult onset diabetes. I ate wafers, chidwa, ladoos, samosas and pakodas like they were going out of style. I ate processed foods like my life depended on them. I did not consume any fibre, and my system was overloaded with saturated fats. The food I ate provided no nutrition whatsoever to me and in fact contributed to trans fats, or bad fats, in my body. late hardly any fruits. I did not exercise which may have burnt off some of the fat I “-as consuming. I did not eat whole grains. These were all ingredients for bad health.
I realised that I had to change my eating habits if I wanted to help my heart and my body without resorting to medicines. I immediately started my fight against heart disease and impending adult-onset diabetes by switching to a nutrition-based diet. I gave myself a target time of three months told myself that if in that time I was unable to control my lipid profile levels and bring my blood sugar down, I would get onto medicines. I followed the diets advised by Dr CaIdwell and Dr Barnard. In addition to consuming any animal products (which was easy for me since 1 was already vegan), far those three months, I did not consume my oil, not even olive oil. I avoided nuts in beginning of the diet but added them later on. I ate only nutrient-dense foods, all vegetables that I could find. I ate all legumes beans, peas, and lentils of varieties; I ate all whole grains and the products that are made from them — breads, rotis. cheelas and pastas, and made sure did not contain added fats, especially hydrogenated fats, which are very bad for the body. I ate rotis made of different whole grains like raagi, makai, bajra and jawar. Late variety of fruits and maintained a thirty minute gap between consuming fruit and eating other food. I did not drink fruit juice ate fruits in their entirety so as to get the benefits of fibre from them. I ate brown rice, red rice, black rice but no white rice. I shifted to brown sugar or even gur and reduced the quantity of sugar I ingested. I consumed oats in different forms, as porridge, in cakes and muffins (which 1 baked without any fats and they were still delicious—recipe on pg 244) and even as upma, as pulav I added flax seeds to my daily diet since everyone needs Omega 3. After the first six weeks of this, I started eating walnuts thrice a week. I sprouted methi and sesame seeds and added them to my daily salads. 1 ensured there was some raw f00d with both main meals. I switched to iodised sea salt from rock salt. I learnt to read food labels carefully, to ensure that the contents were really healthy and not just empty claims.
Since I suffer from Mitral Valve Prolapse (a condition in which the mitral valve in the heart does not work properly, often leading to breathlessness), I was not comfortable with strenuous exercising. So I opted for brisk walking, starting from 20 minutes a day, which I built up to 40 minutes daily.
By the second month of this fitness regime, [noticed an appreciable reduction in my stomach flab. Not only did I start to feel fitter, hut I was able to walk fast, comfortably, at the level required to have the aerobic effect I wanted. At the end of the three months, my results showed that I had brought my cholesterol, triglycerides and sugar down to within normal limits! And I had lost seven kilos to boot! Victory!
So, if you are suffering from any health problems, and you need to turn vegan, take heart. This hook shows you that there is life beyond soya. You don’t need to consume only soya and drink soya milk just because you have to (or decide to) turn vegan. There are many delicious dishes that you can have. And you can still consume food from different cuisines. I promise you, this book will prove to you that vegan cooking is just as delicious, if not more so, than its non-vegan counterpart, and much, much healthier of course.
A Healthy Vegan Diet
Your aim should be to get enough nutrients like calcium, iron, proteins, amongst other nutrients and Omega 3, from your vegan diet. If you consume a healthy diet which is rich in vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, walnuts and almonds, flax seeds, pulses and whole grains, avoid animal products, intersperse it with soya, use the correct type of fat for cooking (non refined cold-pressed oils), unless of course you are diabetic or have heart disease in which case any fat is a no-no, walk every day, you will do fine. Of course, if your doctor has specifically advised you to avoid either exercise or a specific type of food group, please listen to him or her,
Just remember to always keep your food whole grain, oil free, vegan and you will realise that it will automatically be nutritious. Your health will improve. As far as possible, eat only whole grains, eat organic, eat home cooked food, and avoid the five white poisons: maida, white bread, white rice, white sugar and milk. Your aim should be to add to fibre to your food, and all the food that I have suggested contains fibre in abundance.
Not only will a nutrition-based vegan diet save your heart, it will also keep you safe from diseases like adult-onset diabetes, and hypertension. A nutrition-based diet will also save you from ailments that have been linked to dietary factors, like cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, uterus, and ovaries. And if you keep your consumption of oil and sugar to a minimum, you will not have to bother about your weight either. Just imagine, you can eat as much as you want!
A simple tip buy the best ingredients that you can afford to buy. Do not skimp on the quality of the food that you cook and eat, as that is the basis of nutrition for your body. Organic vegetables and fruits are available very easily nowadays. And you can even grow your own organic vegetables, in pots on your terrace, or in your garden. If you are transitioning to veganism and trying out soya (or almond or rice) milk, for example, buy the best brand you can afford to buy. This way you will know what good non- dairy milk tastes like and realise that it is possible to have a life without milk, that there are good alternatives to dairy available in the market. With the right masalas, non- dairy raitas and even buttermilk can taste like their dairy cousins which you are used to. This makes transitioning to giving up dairy even easier.
Dr Esselstyn Caldwelljr. and Dr Neal Barnard, both advocate not just a nutrition filled plant-based diet, hut a no-oil nutrition-based vegan diet. They explain why our bodies cannot process the oil when there is either impending or already existing heart disease or diabetes. My advice would be to try cooking the recipes without oil. I did, and they turned out superb. Try cooking without oil — I promise you, it is absolutely possible and the food is very, very tasty. I have given some guidance on cooking without oil in the Tips and Tricks section at the back of the book.
Some Persistent Health Myths Exploded:
Only vegans are deficient in Vitamin B12
Veganism has been attacked as leading to a deficiency in B 12, a vitamin essential to good health. But research is proving that even non-vegans, including hard-core non-vegetarians, can be deficient in B 12. This deficiency seems to have nothing to do with the consumption (or not) of animal products. So whether you are vegan or not, monitor your B 12 levels regularly, and take a supplement when needed.
Vegans suffer from anaemia
It is a myth that one can only get iron from animal based foods. In fact, studies have shown no higher incidence of anaemia in people eating a healthy plant-based diet as compared to those who eat animal muscles and blood (which is where animals store their iron). A well balanced vegetarian diet, which includes legumes, green vegetables and whole grains can easily provide adequate iron and is healthier as it has no cholesterol or saturated fat in it. According to studies, milk and certain forms of calcium inhibit iron absorption. Eggs especially yolks) also appear to inhibit iron absorption.
Vegans have calcium deficiencies
A favourite question people ask is, hut how do you get your calcium if you don’t drink milk? Dr Neal Barnard told me that the most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or “greens and beans” for short. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other healthful nutrients. The exception is spinach, which contains a large amount of calcium but because of its high oxalic acid content, all of this calcium does not get absorbed by the body. I explain how to cook spinach so as to reduce its oxalic acid content. Chickpeas, tofu, baked beans all have plenty of calcium. These foods also contain magnesium, which we use along with calcium to build bones.
Additionally, plant protein does not cause calcium loss from bones, unlike animal protein. In a twelve-year Harvard study of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk. Similarly, a 1994 study of elderly men and women in Sydney, Australia, showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk. Those with the highest dairy product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption. Go vegans!
Note: To protect your bones you do need calcium in your diet, but you also need to keep calcium in your bones. So if you eat a varied and healthy plant-based diet chances are very good that your body will get the calcium it needs to build strong bones. Just remember to keep your Vitamin D levels under control so as to aid the absorption of calcium from the food you eat.
Vegans don’t get enough protein Another question I get asked often is ‘I-low do you get your proteins if you don’t eat non-vegetarian food?’ I tell them, protein from animal flesh is not only second hand protein (the animal ate the plant which contained the protein and man ate that animal) but animal meat is also high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Studies show that the healthiest diet is one that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and moderate in protein. Increased intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is recommended for weight control and preventing diseases such as cancer and heart disease. High- carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein diets are also recommended for optimal athletic performance.
A diet that is high in protein can actually contribute to disease and other health problems like osteoporosis (high protein intake is known to encourage urinary calcium losses and has been shown to increase risk of fracture in research studies) and cancer. Although fat is the dietary substance most often singled out for increasing one’s risk for cancer, animal protein also plays a role. Specifically, certain proteins present in meat, fish, and poultry, cooked at high temperatures, especially grilling and frying, have been found to produce compounds called heterocyclic amines. These substances have been linked to various cancers including those of the colon and breast. In addition, high-protein diets are typically low in dietary fibre, which appears to be protective against cancer. A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is important in decreasing cancer risk, not to mention useful for adding more healthful sources of protein to your life! Protein heavy diets can also cause kidney problems — diets high in animal protein have been known to cause reduced kidney function, while plant proteins are not shown to have any harmful effect. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that high animal protein intake is largely responsible for the high prevalence of kidney stones in the United States and other developed countries and recommends protein restriction for the prevention of recurrent kidney stones. They can also affect heart disease (typical meat- based high-protein diets are extremely high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Enough protein can he consumed through a variety of plant products that are cholesterol-free and contain only small amounts of fat) and what Dr Barnard calls weight loss sabotage (people consuming high protein and less calories do experience weight loss initially, but they leave themselves open to developing all or some of the problems mentioned above due to their excess protein intake).
I believe that it is virtually impossible to not get enough protein as long as one consumes adequate calories from a nutritious plant- based diet.
Being Vegan in India Today:
When I turned vegan, in 2000, there were hardly any food choices for vegans. If you went out to eat, you could order any vegetarian Chinese dish as long as there was no paneer in it, but at Indian food restaurants, you had to specify over and over that you wanted a dish that had no doodh, no dahi, no butter no cream, no ghee. The waiter would seem to have understood the order, and then invariably bring the dish with dahi, or cream, or butter! I sent countless dishes back to restaurant kitchens, and spoke with countless chefs, begging them to make me some food other than dal, bhindi masala,palak aloe, boiled vegetables ... you get it! Very rarely did I ever get my wish.
If I wanted to cook at home, the choice was as dismal. I was forced to cook simple, basic fare, as there were no decent vegan cooking ingredients available in the market. Yes, you got soya milk in different flavours, and yes, you also got tofu, but they tasted terrible! There was only one company making these products, and no one must have told them that their products tasted terrible! It seemed everything tasty was made in ghee, and I had to forgo Indian sweets for many years since not only did they contain ghee, they contained milk or its derivatives like khoya. If I had not turned vegan for animals, and if was not passionate about animals, I would have given it up in a heartbeat, the food choices were so dismal.
My foreign colleagues waxed lyrical about vegan ‘cheese; and fake meat sausages and fake bacon bits, fake chicken and even fake butter (I don’t mean margarine, since almost C margarine has milk in it, but actually vegan fake butter that tasted like the real thing), all things that were available easily in the western world, and all I could do was listen and drool!
The years passed, and little by little, I noticed that with more awareness and demand, new products aimed at vegans were introduced to the public. International brands of organic soya milk became freely available in India, and big local companies started to produce soya milk for the domestic market. The term vegan began to gain popularity and people actually understood what you meant when you said you were vegan. In fact, one memorable afternoon, a chef in a restaurant in Mumbai, told me he had trained in New York and understood the term vegan! He then proceeded to make me a vegan dessert! This was progress for me!
Today of course, it is very easy to turn vegan in India. Lucky you if you have decided to turn vegan at this time! Now in almost every decently stocked supermarket, one can find fake meat products. These products look and feel like their non-vegetarian brethren! It is possible to find great tasting vegan sausages and burger patties and mince pies, sifting cheek by jowl in the freezer section of supermarkets! Things are looking up! An Indian company has already started to produce fake meat products as they have seen the huge potential for these products. A word of caution: avoid consuming genetically modified soya products. The good news is that the soya from India is not genetically modified.
There are many alternatives to milk now available in India, something that was seriously lacking all those years ago. The soya milk available today has the flavour of the soya bean removed from it, which makes it very palatable to the taste, unlike the options I had back in 2000. The milk tastes so good that one can even have a cold coffee or a hot chocolate with no compromise on taste. And you can also find almond milk, rice milk and cashew milk, all really tasty and all healthy alternatives to milk. One can have dahi wadas, dahi kadhi (recipe on pg 226), lassi and even milk shakes, all made with non-dairy milk. A popular coffee chain even offers vegan coffees and vegan shakes!
Cooking traditionally non-vegan dishes using only vegan ingredients is not only very possible but also fun. The key is to be creative and to substitute ingredients, as Amala Akkineni, the famous actor and animal activist, shares along with her recipe for you.
Today, all restaurants offer vegan dishes and vegans are being recognised as a class of consumers, just like vegetarians and meat eaters. Forward thinking restaurants even offer pizzas with a choice of having them with or without dairy cheese, something that was unheard of in all these years.
I believe that the time is right for many more of us to turn vegan. We owe it to the cows, to the environment and to ourselves. And think about it — humans are the only species on earth who drink the milk of another species.
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