Veganism has been gaining momentum globally. A vegan diet is essentially plant-based and abstains from the use of any animal products or by-products. While health and wellness are the prime reasons for choosing such a diet, sensitivity towards animals also has a major influence in making people turn into vegans. The growing popularity of veganism has led the eateries of Jaipur too to introduce vegan dishes and even entire menus that comprise only plant-based eats and beverages. To find out how easy or difficult it is to get vegan ingredients and food in the city, we spoke to some vegans as well as some café owners about the challenges they face and how they overcome them.
LACK OF OPTIONS LED TO A NEW KITCHEN
Lyla Freechild and her project partner Shammi Nanda have been on a plant-based diet for several years now. The struggle to find such food in the city led them to start Ahimsagram Kitchen. What’s special about their food is that in addition to being plant-based, it is prepared without any packaged products and uses traditional methods of cooking. No electric mixers, pressure cookers, non sticks etc. are used. Ask Lyla about their most popular dish and she says: “Our brownies are our bestseller! They are made with almond and cashew flour, jaggery and fresh coconut milk. There is absolutely no grain, no dairy, no oil/butter, no sugar added. It lasts for 15-20 days in the refrigerator and we deliver it all over India.” Their white sauce pasta, which is made with cashew cream and rice noodles, is another bestseller.
PROCURING RAW INGREDIENTS IS A CHALLENGE
Looking at how underserved the vegan community was in Jaipur led Agrima Singh to introduce a multitude of vegan options in the otherwise nutrition-centered menu of Lusty Lettuce. “To date, our biggest challenge has been procuring the raw ingredients for certain innovative recipes we come up with. This was something we had anticipated as the supply chain for vegan products was never established and maintained by vendors due to a lack of demand in the past. Luckily we were able to contact and collaborate with a few vegan brands who have been holding the fort for the entire community. We really hope that the vendors of the city will notice the uptick in demand and solve this issue faced by the entire community permanently”, shared Agrima while talking about the challenges faced in introducing vegan food in the city.
USING IN-HOUSE INGREDIENTS MAKES IT EASY
“We lean towards a healthy lifestyle which further translates into our food philosophy and ingredients used in the dishes”, says Shaan Agarwal of Jaipur Modern Kitchen, whose vegan pizzas have been a rage in the city since 2019. Wasabi Tempura Sushi, Quinoa Nasi Goreng and Oat milk Cappuccino are some of the other must-try vegan items on their menu. Ask him about any hurdles they faced in getting vegan ingredients in Jaipur and he tells: “We make most things in-house in our kitchen and so there has not been any obstacle as such in introducing plant-based dishes for our customers.”
HIGH PRICES MAKE IT DIFFICULT
To make the menu inclusive for people with dietary choices, Quaint has been offering vegan options since the beginning of the cafe in 2017. That the demand for plant-based food is on a surge can be gauged by the increase in the number of options on the menu. “The market for plant-based options has considerably expanded since we first started serving the same on our menu. People are constantly moving towards healthier plant-based choices and are on a constant lookout for options. Sourcing of ingredients was difficult in Jaipur, but due to the increase in demand the situation is slightly better now. However, the price point turns out to be the biggest challenge”, shares Ayesha Sajjan and Twinkle Singh of Cafe Quaint.
EDUCATING PEOPLE IS A TASK
On the other hand, Shradha Rajgarhia of Quyu’s Taproom feels that in addition to sourcing ingredients, educating people about the changing trend of plant-based food has been an arduous task. “We introduced the plant-based menu at Quyus Taproom with the idea of providing healthier options for people to snack on when eating out. Even though it has just been over 6 months, the response has been great and it is only going to grow in the future. Some of our bestselling vegan dishes include ragi nachos, sweet potato chips and Thai millet bowl”, tells Shradha.
VEGAN CURD IS STILL A DIFFICULT FIND
Shedding light on the growing trend of veganism in the city, Ashu Parwal, the owner of a gourmet grocery store in the city says: “Vegan milk has been in demand since a long time but now products like vegan cheese, butter, ice creams and chocolates are also increasingly becoming popular. We also have vegan spreads and cheesecake jars. Now people are willing to pay a higher price for products that are better for their health.” However, vegan curd is still difficult to find easily owing to its low shelf life and unstable demand.
VEGANS PREFER COOKING AT HOME
A city based graphic designer, Rishabh Jain, who has been vegan for almost 2 years now prefers to cook his own food at home since Jaipur’s restaurants cannot do without adding dollops of ghee and butter in their food, according to him. “However, if I have to dine out or order in then my preferred choice is Quyu’s Taproom or Ahimsagram”, he adds.
For Shraddha Jain, an entrepreneur who has been vegan for 3 years now, being vegan was not just about leaving dairy but also finding healthier alternatives. “If it is vegan, it does not mean it is healthy. So instead of having processed vegan cheese from outside, I make my own cheese at home. I do not think one needs to go out to find vegan food. But when I do want to eat from outside, I highly recommend the vegan pizza at Jaipur Modern , stir fry rice noodles from Anokhi and vegan pasta from Art Ghar.