Last week Conscious Eating India teamed up with several talented chefs to hold its first plant-based training session at the Indus International School in Bangalore. Chef Susmitha Veganosaurus (no, not her real last name but the name of her awesome blog) and Chef Ram Khatiwada from Carrots Restaurant, the first entirely vegan restaurant in India, along with chefs from the vegetarian “meat” company Good Dot, worked with school chefs to prepare 17 delicious plant-based dishes, including vegan omelets, chili “chicken,” tofu scramble, and chocolate mousse. The top-rated boarding school, which serves over 2 million meals each year, plans to introduce more dishes free of meat, dairy, and eggs by replacing animal-based entrees currently on its menu.
The Indus International School in Bangalore isn’t the first Indian institution to embrace plant-based living, and it won’t be the last. The German International School in Chennai went completely plant-based in August 2017. The Vijaya International School in Agra recently partnered with international nonprofit Vegan Outreach to reduce dairy products in its meals by 50 percent. And the $20 billion startup WeWork, with over 20 co-working spaces in India, has gone completely vegetarian. WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey said that the company eliminated meat for environmental reasons. In McKelvey’s words, “New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car.”
It’s true that high consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs is directly related to serious environmental concerns, including deforestation, species loss, and excessive water use. Research also shows that eating more plant-based foods is one of the best things individuals can do to protect their health. Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of death in India, but research from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Plant-based eating also protects against certain cancers, decreases inflammation, and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, plant-based eating conserves resources; if people ate plant foods directly, instead of cycling them through animals for meat, there would be a lot more food to go around. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world hunger is rising. India is among the worst affected, ranked 103 out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index—even lower than its neighbors Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. This is another reason Conscious Eating India promotes resource-efficient plant-based foods.
Conscious Eating India works with chefs, nutritionists, and other professionals in the food industry across the country to incorporate plant-based dishes into the menus of schools and corporations. The program aims to eventually work with government institutions as well.
MFA’s Conscious Eating program is an international initiative. So far the program has replaced 5 million animal-based meals per year in Brazil and 925,000 animal-based meals per year in Mexico with vegan meals. The success in Mexico is the result of a collaboration agreement signed by government officials with the state of Veracruz and MFA.