India, a country with the largest population of vegetarians because of their religion.
Unfortunately it’s taking a long time for the knowledge about animal wellfare and environmental issues to reach India and it’s inhabitants.
Since they’re not aware they still use animals for their benefit without giving it thought.
I’ve seen people hitting dogs and cows with sticks, putting a shitload of stuff on horses so they can carry it up the mountain and whipping them so they continue walking and also lots of malnourished animals..
But awareness is reaching them and things are starting to change, it’s not like they are cruel on purpose!
Because of this large number of vegetarians there are many vegetarian restaurants around.
They are called ‘pure veg’ restaurants.
Vegetarian is not vegan ofcourse, but a vegetarian meal is easier to veganize than a meat based meal!
Many other vegans have traveled India before you and me, they have spread the vegan message and thanks to that many vegan restaurants appeared and many other restaurants are more aware of the term.
But not everywhere! In that case communication is important and the characteristics of the local people in a country play a big role in the process of fixing yourself a vegan meal..
This will be a different process in every country you go, because the characteristics of the inhabitants are different behind each border.
My experience is that the indian locals are friendly, willing and accomodating so you can easily ask them to leave stuff out or prepare you a meal without animal products.
They’re also not lazy, but.. I noticed some are a bit easy. As in, they might throw something non-veegan in there or they prepare your food in a dirty pan used for meat/eggs/fish.
It’s not that they want to manipulate you, but they are just not aware of what vegism truly is about.
To prevent that from happening, be very clear about what you do eat and don’t eat!
Tell them before you place your order and repeat afterwards. Also, ask if they understood your requests.
Just to be sure.
All of this depends on where you are in India(I am definitely not talking about every local), how well their english is and what type of restaurant it is.
In Rishikesh veganism is very known, but in Hampi not so much. Adjust to each situation and see it as little challenges with different levels, the reward is vegan food
We were invited by a very conscious and open-minded local to cook with him and eat the delicious food with him and his lovely wife.
The hidden non-vegan ingredients to look out for in traditional Indian food are:
-ghee (clarified butter)
-paneer (cheese which looks like tofu)
-cream/milk/condensed milk (they love to use milk)
Many common dishes are already vegetarian, like paneer palak(cheese and spinach) and some even vegan.
A few examples:
-Dosa, depending on the filling. Also ask them if ghee is used and when that’s the case to use oil instead.
We loved the aloo masala dosa and mysore masala dosa(this one is only found at Morjim pure veg in Arambol).
-Vegetable samosa (triangle shaped pastry’s filled with potato and veggies)
-Vegetable spring rolls
-Parantha, depending on the filling
-Vegetable biryani (a delicious, spiced rice dish), ask them to use oil instead of ghee/butter
-Idli, but ask them about the use of milk
-Dahl tadka (yellow lentil dahl), tell them to leave out ghee if possible
-Chana masala (mix-spiced small chickpeas), ask them to leave out ghee if possible
-Aloo gobhi (potato cauliflower ‘curry’), and again ask then to leave out ghee when used and if possible
Dosa with 3 dipping sauces which are vegan, but I still asked everytime
To make the process of fixing yourself a great vegan meal and communicating with the locals easier, here are some translations of words that might come in handy:
The Hindi word for vegan is Śākāhārī (शाकाहारी)
Without – Binā (बिना)
Cheese – Panīra (paneer) (पनीर)
Meat – Manasā (मनसा)
Egg – Andā (अंडा)
Seafood – Samudrī bhōjana (समुद्री भोजन)
Poultry – Pōlṭrī (पोल्ट्री)
Dairy – Ḍēyarī (डेयरी)
Honey – Hanī (हनी)
So these are the tips gained from my personal experiences while traveling as a vegan through India!
I am not someone ‘who settles’ or loosens the reins when traveling.
I’d rather eat fruit and raw vegetables all day then eat what’s not mine to eat
I hope this helps you on your travels and stay tuned for a follow up article including all the vegan-friendly restaurants we visited in India!So much yum food..
Lots of love, let’s connect