“There are substitutes to vegan products,” says Sharada Kuragayala, who climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest single standing mountain in the world, to promote the goodness of going vegan
Why did you turn vegan?
I grew up with animals at home. Say tortoise, cows, cats, pigeons, etc. But that was that. I liked them, as well liked eating them in the form of non-vegetarian food. It was in 2015 when I was in the US, people there introduced me to the vegan concept. That led me to gaining a deeper insight into why should we turn vegan. I found out about the torture animals underwent during the various processes such as milking process and others to give us their milk, leather, etc. I soon switched my lifestyle — stopped eating non-vegetarian food, stopped using leather products, stopped drinking coffee and tea or anything that was brought to me by putting some animal through pain.
There’s a lot of talk about the changes vegan diet brings to the body. It is often criticised for depriving the body of vitamins. Did you find a change in yours?
Not one bit. In fact I feel better. Plant-based food calms the mind. If we talk about milk which is ubiquitous in food preparation, I like to say that our system is not meant to digest milk. It is for the calf to digest. But we have abused our digestive system so much that it forcefully takes it while creating some other health problems.
To promote the fact that vegan people are just as strong as those who are not, I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single standing mountain in the world, in 2020. I walked for more than eight hours a day, for over twelve days. I did so by having vegan food.
I remember this lady who was a strict vegan; she would on and off step out for milk tea and ask me to keep it a secret from others. Do you also have cheat days?
Not at all. After realizing the pain animals undergo, I dare not indulge in non-vegan food. I have found lots of substitutes. There’s soy milk, there’s almond and coconut milk and more for my tea and coffee. There are options.
Could you tell me of one food preparation which in the past saw you using vegan product?
Peanut yogurt. It’s creamy and rich in nutrients.
Ingredients: A cup of peanut | 3 cups of water | Chilli stalks
Preparation: Soak a cup of peanut for about four hours. Add three cups of water to it and grind it in the mixer to churn out milk. Warm up this milk and then let it cool. After some time, add chilli stalks as a fermenting agent and leave the preparation untouched overnight. Your creamy peanut yogurt is ready in the morning.