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 Post subject: Vegan India
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:34 am 
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Can't Dance, Isn't Part of Revolution
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Hi everyone!
I'm heading to India for three weeks at the end of December. Now, I think I can safely assume that India is vego friendly, but does anyone have any vegan-specific tips? I'll be doing the "Golden Triangle" tour (New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) before heading north to the Palampur in Himachal Pradesh at the foot of the Himalayas for a couple of weeks of volunteering.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:23 pm 
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I do! But I don't have time to post properly now. But I'll tell you what I remember when I get a chance!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:27 am 
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Rachwins wrote:
I do! But I don't have time to post properly now. But I'll tell you what I remember when I get a chance!


That would be awesome, thanks! I don't leave til the end of Dec, so when you have a chance : )

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:39 am 
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Last time I was there I was vegetarian, which is obv easy. Hope you can get some good vegan tips.

Do you mind if I ask where you are volunteering?

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:19 am 
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Palampur - Way up North in Himachal Pradesh. Doing health-related stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:35 am 
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Right. This isn't vegan specific, but a bit of everything I know/learnt the hard way... I went to the South, but I'm sure stuff is fairly transferable.

Firstly, it's not hard being vegan in India at all. Most stuff is cooked in coconut oil and vegetable stock. I went out with 6 other girls, and they all vowed beforehand that they'd go vegan for the trip. They all failed miserably, and all got Delhi Belly. Smugly, I was fine, apart from a little constipation, which brings me onto my next point...

Take diarrhea sachets, but also, take constipation meds. This is because...

Avoid fresh fruit and veg, unless you can peel the skin off (like an orange). Cooked is fine, raw is a no-go unless you want to spend two days tied to the toilet. If someone offers you peelable fruit somewhere, ask to peel it yourself. That way you know exactly how long it has been out of it's skin, and where it's been since! When you get home, you'll be craving a salad and some raw veg like nothing ever before. My boyfriend turned up to the airport to collect me with two huge savoury and fruit salads, and I'd polished off both boxed by the time we'd got home.

There's a lot of fried food. Where we were, street food was pretty hard to come by so always try to have a rough idea about where/when you're going to eat.

Find a cookery course to go on, even if it's just a half dayer. Best money I spent, other than spending 3 days on one of the Keralan rice boats.

Take hand sanitiser and mosquito cream. If you have room for a mosquito net, take that too. Also, make sure you have a spare memory card, unless you have a monster one already.

Be prepared for your bank to cancel your bank card when you first get out there, even if you tell them you're going away. It happened to every one of us. Take the international number for your bank with you and don't wait until you're out of cash to withdraw each time.

Don't expect hot water unless you're paying for the expensive hotels. I think I had 1 hot shower in three weeks.

And, not that I'm plugging, but thoroughly recommending, buy a copy of The Vegan Passport. It has a page for almost every language going explaining what veganism is and what you can/can't eat, including a picture page at the back just incase the language required isn't there. You just hand the book to the chef and hope for the best.

Try some freshly made paratha, although they vary region to region in Kerala alone. Who knows what form you'll end up with, but hopefully it'll be as awesome as some of the paratha we tried.

If you get a chance, try a sadya, or a thali, depending on your region. Image search both these terms to get an idea of what they are! Also idili, dosa and coconut and cardamon pancakes were breakfast staples. Avial is lovely... what am I saying. Just try everything you can, there's so much terrific food, and very rarely ate what we know as 'curry'.

Take a nail brush and a first aid kit.

Don't expect to be able to buy clothes and shoes out there, unless you're petit.

Buy an Indian sim card for your phone. I think you need your passport with you to do this, but it's so so much cheaper than using your regular phone.

Most importantly, have fun and try everything that comes to you. You'll have an amazing time!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:06 am 
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yay for vegans in India! I am so excited to plug the best vegan opportunity going on in India: Sadhana Forest! Sadhana Forest, outside of Pondicherry, in Tamil Nadu is a strictly and compassionately vegan volunteer community trying to replant 70 acres with an endangered dry evergreen forest. But it's not only about reforestation. Aviram, the founder says the three tenets of Sadhana Forest are veganism, a gift economy, and unschooling. They're serious about all of these issues, which I find completely refreshing in a world awash with excuses. And I think it may be one of the only vegan communities in the world! (please let me know if you find other ones!)

I've been volunteering here for a month now and I've been completely blown away with what an amazing project it is. There's anywhere from 40-100 volunteers here at one time living in huts, working in the forest, and eating completely vegan and organic meals three times a day. You work four or five hours a day and are finished by lunch time. I left a review on Happy Cow describing the food because it's pretty delicious. Lots of fresh fruit, dahl, rice, and varying subjis. Healthy and tasty. There are daily workshops on nonviolent communication, acro-yoga, meditation, etc. Every Sunday is a sharing meeting where everyone talks about what's on their minds. Real and honest connection is highly valued here. It's honestly incredible.

Anyways, I've been living here and have felt sad that there are so few vegans here. I mean, everyone eats vegan while they are here but we need to support this amazing project. More vegans here means more vegan inspirations for the non-vegan volunteers and for the 150 or so visitors who visit for the Friday night Eco-Film Club dinner and a solar-powered movie. We could really use you, vegans!!

So with that said: we're looking for vegans!, tree-planters, vegan food-preparers, unschooling leaders, yogis, meditators, compost know-it-alls, permaculturalists, animal lovers, people persons, and generally happy travelers looking for a place to volunteer to help us with our reforestation efforts. We offer free accommodation for our volunteers! The food is organic and fresh, and the electricity is solar-powered.

For more information, please see our website:www.sadhanaforest.org


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:48 pm 
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I'm from Texas but spend most of my time in southern India. I have no problem being vegan here. I always say "no butter, no ghee, no cream, no milk" when eating out it's all fine. Don't get too concerned about the water and raw fruits and vegs. I think the worry makes people more sick than the food itself. Jump in with both feet and have a good time. Super cautious people get sick and so do adventurous people, just like in the Western world. It's no different here. People get sick everywhere in the world. Just have a wonderful time and enjoy this beautiful, amazing country!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:29 pm 
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The north is completely different to the south. The south is super veg friendly (yum, coconut oil!) and the north is not - I lived in north India for two years. Mostly, they will use cheap oils (especially soybean oil) to cook with, but if you go to a restaurant, it will be ghee. If you go to a private house, they will use ghee and (in villages especially) Will Not Understand when you refuse. If you order what sounds like a vegan dish at a restaurant, they will add shredded paneer to it for garnish or cream or both. You have to explain several times and you have to make sure they understand. As soon as the server brings it, you have to stop him and send it back. They will almost never recook it, just remove the paneer, but still. This is also true of dosas you might buy in the north - I can't tell you how many times I found paneer in a masala dosa. Up in Himanchal Pradesh, it won't be a problem. Mountain folk are completely different to Delhi folk, and they like beans a lot. The best thalis I had were up near Kedarnath and on the roads to Kedarnath and Badrinath.

As for clothes - readymade clothes are not made for westerners. But it's easy and cheap to buy cloth and have it made to fit.

Be prepared for no insulation, even in the north. Everything is made with cement and marble, and that's it.

Take probiotics with you. Pay attention to your belly and poop. The second something changes, go to a pharmacy. It's not worth it to suffer, especially for such a short time. Parasites suck (I was stuck with parasites for 14 months after I left India) so really, pay attention and be aware.

If you want hot water, buy an electric kettle or one of the coils you can immerse it water.

Have a knife, spoon and tuperware or something to travel with so you can make a better attempt at managing your own food.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan India
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:40 am 
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lutin wrote:
The north is completely different to the south. The south is super veg friendly (yum, coconut oil!) and the north is not - I lived in north India for two years. Mostly, they will use cheap oils (especially soybean oil) to cook with, but if you go to a restaurant, it will be ghee. If you go to a private house, they will use ghee and (in villages especially) Will Not Understand when you refuse. If you order what sounds like a vegan dish at a restaurant, they will add shredded paneer to it for garnish or cream or both. You have to explain several times and you have to make sure they understand. As soon as the server brings it, you have to stop him and send it back. They will almost never recook it, just remove the paneer, but still. This is also true of dosas you might buy in the north - I can't tell you how many times I found paneer in a masala dosa. Up in Himanchal Pradesh, it won't be a problem. Mountain folk are completely different to Delhi folk, and they like beans a lot. The best thalis I had were up near Kedarnath and on the roads to Kedarnath and Badrinath.

As for clothes - readymade clothes are not made for westerners. But it's easy and cheap to buy cloth and have it made to fit.

Be prepared for no insulation, even in the north. Everything is made with cement and marble, and that's it.

Take probiotics with you. Pay attention to your belly and poop. The second something changes, go to a pharmacy. It's not worth it to suffer, especially for such a short time. Parasites suck (I was stuck with parasites for 14 months after I left India) so really, pay attention and be aware.

If you want hot water, buy an electric kettle or one of the coils you can immerse it water.

Have a knife, spoon and tuperware or something to travel with so you can make a better attempt at managing your own food.


yes, I agree with everything Lutin's said. The North really is completely different than the south. You can try your best to explain what veganism is and then they will bring you a dish with ghee all over it. Sigh. At some point, you sort of have to pick your battles. You can ask them to use oil instead of ghee. Also, watch out for "curds" which end up in all sorts of veggie stews and dishes.

Otherwise though, India is so amazing, what a great place. I hope you have a wonderful experience.

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