It will take just one Google search along the lines of ‘veganism in India’ for you to realise that India too has shifted gear towards the vegan lifestyle. While veganism is not a new concept, many in India are waking up to the advantages of a plant-based lifestyle, only now. As talks of a sustainable lifestyle gain momentum in a day and age where the future of the planet seems uncertain, adopting a vegan lifestyle seems like that bit of individual effort we can do to save the planet (this is no way condones or absolves big corporations of responsibility, who are the real and major cause of the crisis we face today).
Millennials and Gen-Z have been promoting the vegan lifestyle for both the health benefits that the plant-based diet offers and from the ‘climate anxiety’ that grips most in the generation (meat is the second largest contributor to green house emissions). There are still others who are hesitant to turn vegan only because they aren’t fully aware of the substitutes and alternatives available.
Personally, when I was experimenting with veganism last year, thanks to both my curiosity and desire to reduce my carbon footprint, I didn’t know how many options were truly available. I found myself ringing my vegan friend too often, looking for answers.
But to hopefully make you skip the trouble, allow me to bring to you the ultimate Homegrown Veganism Guide so that this conscious journey is simpler for you. From dairy and meat substitutes to how to make your wardrobe, makeup and skincare, cruelty-free, we’ve got you covered.
I. Food & Beverages
Vegan Alternative: Soy
If you’re a fan of chicken nuggets and feel that it is something you’ll have a hard time giving up, don’t worry! Mumbai-based startup Blue Tribe Foods have launched their plant-based chicken nuggets that are made of soya and peas which make for the perfect substitute snack when craving chicken nuggets. You can also try their Chicken Keema that is made with soy extracts.
Vegan Alternative: Soy and Textured Vegetable Protein
Providing alternatives to fish, chicken and mutton but not compromising on taste or nutrition is Chennai-based Vegeta Gold. They use soya, isolated soy proteins, textured vegetable protein, and mushrooms to create their mock meats. Products are all but the real deal. The Soyato Fillet which tastes like a fish fillet and Roasted Soyato which tastes like chicken are good alternatives that you should try.
Vegan Alternative: Tofu Tempeh
Bengaluru-based Vegolution’s mock meat interpretation and alternative is their innovative product Hello Tempayy which is made by fermenting soybeans. “Tempeh, unlike paneer and tofu absorbs flavour well allowing us to offer marinated varieties which make it even more flavourful and easy to use. We have also priced it at par with good quality paneer to ensure affordability. It makes great curries, stir-fries, tacos and kebabs,” says Siddharth Ramasubramanian, Founder & CEO, Vegolution.
Vegan Alternative: Jackfruit
Goa-based sustainable food brand Wakao Foods highlights the lesser-known superfood of the South, Jackfruit. Being incredibly versatile and high in fibre content, the humble Jackfruit is the ideal inclusive food that is perfect for every dietary choice. It has a unique meat-like texture that makes for a guilt-free vegan and gluten-free alternative with restricted use of GMOs for a healthier choice. It is low in calories, fat and carbs as well. The meat-like texture of their teriyaki and barbeque variants makes for a healthy and delicious meal.
Vegan Alternative: Vegan Cheese
Founded in 2017 by Kinjal Darukhanawala, Mumbai-based brand Wegan Foods offers vegan cheese that uses nutritional yeast (nooch) which is an excellent source of Vitamin B complex, selenium, dietary fibre and zinc. Their products are also dairy and gluten-free as well as nut and soy-free.
Vegan Alternative: Plant-based milk, Vegan Curd, Vegan Butter and Vegan Mayo
Goodmylk strives to make plant-based dairy accessible and experiments with almond, coconut, soy, quinoa and other ‘mylks’. They also do peanut curd, vegan cheese, vegan mayo, and vegan butter.
Vegan Alternative: Plant-based milk
So Good is mainly known for the almond and soy fresh milk that they offer. I can personally vouch for their plant-based milk which is the one I consumed during my stint at veganism and which I continue to use even a year later even as I’m not vegan anymore. It is the perfect fit if you love coffee and tastes amazing in a vegan iced coffee or a Dalgona alike.
Vegan Alternative: Plant-based milk
If almond is not something you like, Urban Platter’s oat milk, Oat Wow is a great option. It tastes exactly like cereal in milk and if that’s something you enjoy, it could be a great substitute for your mornings. It is gluten, nuts, and soy-free too.
Vegan Alternative: Cactus Leather/ Cork Leather
In 2019, Mexican company Desserto was able to make organic, all-natural cruelty-free leather from cactus. Homegrown company Arture was eager to introduce this alternative to the Indian market, and so they did! The first in the series is vegan pouches made of vegan leather. Being a vegan and sustainable PETA-certified brand, they have also been using cork leather, cannabis hemp, and Himalayan nettle which are other plant-based alternatives to animal leather since their inception. All their products are 100 per cent sustainable and are naturally grown and harvested.
Vegan Alternative: Pineapple Leather
Sustainable brand Aulive which labels itself as “Genuinely Not Leather” has products that are manufactured using ethically sourced artificial leather. Their ‘Piña Collection’, started in 2019, uses the ever-intriguing pineapple leather. The wallets and slings in the collection are made from Piñatex®, a type of vegan leather made entirely from the fibres in the pineapple plant’s leaves. They source their pineapple leaves from the discarded batch during the pineapple harvest season, thus reducing the environmental strain on acquiring resources. To add to it, the plant-based leather alternative used in this collection is both long-lasting and biodegradable.
Vegan Alternative: Weganwool
Belonging to a family of weavers and the Devanga community, Gowri Shankar, the founder of Weganwool – a cashmere feel fabric made entirely from vegan wool – decided to create an end-to-end sustainable brand with ethical practices. Vegan wool is made from the fibres extracted from Calotropis, a wild flowering shrub that is known to grow in otherwise barren agricultural conditions.
Vegan Alternative: Coconut Leather
Malai is countering industrial pollution created due to the leather industry by developing biocomposite substitutes to leather using sustainable bacterial cellulose, grown using agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in southern India. Malai, or the raw material that acts as the base for all the material and goods created by the label, is completely biodegradable and vegan. It is a flexible, water-resistant, and biocomposite material that has the look of leather and a feel closer to that of paper.
Vegan Alternative: Mushroom Leather
Shoes! We can never have too many, can we? For the longest time, however, there was no alternative way to design the footwear closet. Bridging this gap is Mumbai-based footwear brand, Paio, which not only specialises in plant-based leather but has also been innovating new technologies. The PETA-certified vegan brand has a variety of plant-based alternatives like hemp, jute and faux silks. Right at the centre of this vegan cornucopia is their mushroom leather-based handcrafted products which are the perfect choice for conscious customers who want to make sustainable and cruelty-free choices.
Vegan Makeup & Skincare
What began as an epiphany over all-natural hair gel, is now a full-fledged company that introduces all vegan, cruelty-free products created with pure, plant-powered extracts. Their ingredients are sourced organically from around the globe, including farms in India. Their favourite ingredient, flaxseed, is sourced from Andhra Pradesh. Arata products span across skincare, haircare, and oral care. Shampoos, toothpaste, face washes, hair creams, serums ... their list is bottomless. The Hempacado Oil, a cold-pressed hemp seed and avocado oil is a product to watch out for.
Disguise Cosmetics wants you to celebrate you and embrace yourself. Their brand ideology is focused on self-love and acceptance. They create cosmetics that celebrate real women who can’t be defined by labels. All their products are cruelty-free with quality 100 per cent vegan ingredients and they strive to be as conscious as possible.
Following the motto ‘soil to shelf’, Juicy Chemistry is a homegrown brand that takes its ‘organic’ label very seriously. All GMO-free, their products bask in the pride of being derived from nature. A quick glance over their website will have you positively overwhelmed with their list of natural resources. Each product is dermatologically tested (not on animals) and also ECOCERT-certified.
From lip balms to bath oils, and dry shampoos to essential oils, Juicy Chemistry has a lot to offer. Their online store, luckily, eases things for customers by allowing them to shop by category, concern or ingredient.
Focusing exclusively on organics, minerals and plant-derived products, JustHerbs serves us with all our needs and wants in the most natural and ethical way possible. Not only do they ensure their products do well by you but also that they protect the environment and do well by our nurturer. Each ingredient used maintains its original integrity as they do not alter them by subjecting them to artificial process like refining.
Apart from haircare and skincare, they also offer makeup products like lipstick, micellar water, skin tints and more. Their 6-step regime kits and saver sets provide you with a complete care package.
Makeup consumers shouldn’t have to choose between a high-quality and effective product and a sustainable one. Neither should they have to be conflicted between wearing makeup daily and compromising their skincare. Homegrown brand KIRO, founded by Vasundhara Patni might be one to make the choice simpler. The brand focuses on everyday makeup that is made from non-toxic ingredients that are nurturing to the skin. They use skin-friendly formulae that incorporate ingredients like argan oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, apricot oil, shea butter, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. The brand also emphasises on being inclusive. Consistent with its brand motto ‘Indulgent. Effective. Mindful.’, the brand’s products come with recyclable packaging in a bid to be more mindful of the environment. To add to this is the fact that their products are vegan and 100 per cent cruelty-free. As a cosmetics brand, KIRO has created a place for affordable and high-impact products that are good for both your skin and the environment.
Nature’s Co is a PETA-approved animal cruelty-free brand with strict adherence to the ‘all natural’ way. Their body and bath products exclude any form of animal-derived ingredients like milk, honey, beeswax and lanolin which are essential for other skincare products. Still, their products are designed keeping age-old natural remedies for healthy skin in mind.
Plum’s brand ideology focuses on inspiration from the goodness of nature, being driven by the desire to be good and do good. Founder Shankar Prasad posits that Plum is India’s first 100 per cent vegan beauty brand. A unique list of ingredients consisting of chamomile, olive and rosemary, aloe vera and green tea, amongst many others is used in the products. Plum integrates quality with sensitivity and has gained acclaim as a go-to solution for vegan skincare.
Apart from being PETA-approved animal cruelty-free, this brand is truly ethical for it has a strict ‘no child labour’ and ‘no machinery’ policy. All their bath and body goods only support skilled and unskilled labour. We particularly love their gentle handmade soaps which are great for you and even your pets!
100 per cent vegan and animal cruelty-free, Soulflower doesn’t give us much to complain about. Not only are their products ready to tackle your skincare needs, but their haircare range holds itself responsible to cater to all your hair requirements. Their website allows you to navigate through your choices based on your skin or hair concern and provides you with your best fit.
Vegan Hair Products
Paradyes boasts of being the first wholly homegrown hair dye brand curating vegan and cruelty-free hair dyes in the Indian market. Putting a sustainable foot forward, from stringent quality control to excitingly recyclable packaging that features a reusable glass jar and bamboo brush, the label is mindful of keeping a check on its carbon footprint. Their DIY kits are great options for those who love to revamp their look once in a while.
The Switch fix does shampoo bars that are vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic and non-polluting. Their mission is simple, “we’re bringing sexy hair back with plant-based personal care formulated to fight damaging signs of climate change.” Even if you’re not vegan, shampoo bars are much better for the environment and a lot less toxic, so maybe it’s time you make the switch.
You can also check out Vegan Dukan, a one-stop shop for plant-based products, which offers a wide range of vegan products and eliminates the hassle of finding them.
Check them out here.
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