Thursday, May 15, 2008

5 Tips for Vegan Travelers to India

It's possible to eat colorful vegan food in India every day.
There are thousands of restaurants from Kashmir to
Kanyakumari, offering variety of vegetarian dishes.
However, you should be concerned about milk products
such as yogurt and ghee(clarified butter) in some

The word vegan, has become synonymous with vegetarian
in India. In an Indian newspaper, I was shocked to see
many recipes with milk and milk products, which was
titled as, "Vegan Recipes". If you tell you're a vegan
in India, some people may interpret that you are a
pure vegetarian, who will not eat meat and eggs, but
will consume milk and milk products.

If you are planning to visit India, then be sure to visit websites,
Incredible india and International vegetarian union

1.Restaurants: Most of the restaurants offer
vegetarian fare. "Pure vegetarian restaurants" don't
use eggs and meat in cooking, but milk and milk
products such as cream, paneer- cottage cheese, butter
and ghee- clarified butter is used in cooking.
However, you should be able to find numerous vegan
food items in both vegetarian and pure vegetarian
restaurants. Pure vegetarian restaurants don't serve

Make sure not to order any dish, which has the word
"Paneer" in it. Paneer, a cottage cheese is widely
used in north indian cuisine. Most popular dishes which has
paneer are palak paneer and mutter paneer.
Also make sure not to order any dish with word
"malai". Malai means milk based cream in Hindi.

2.Supermarkets : There are numerous supermarkets
in large cities which carry array of vegan food items.
Most of the supermarkets also carry soy milk and tofu.
During my recent visit to Bangalore, I saw variety of
biscuits and cookies suitable for vegans.

All the pre-packaged food items are provided with a
list of ingredients.

3.Bakeries: Numerous bakeries adorn the busy streets
of India. You can find breads, biscuits, and savoury
snacks. However, you should question the
shop owners to confirm if the items are vegan. In
cities, most of the bakery employees can speak in

4.Sweets : Most of the sweets you get in sweet stores,
everything from halwas to burfis are milk based. I was
very happy to find that one of the decadent sweet,
Kaju katli - cashew fudge, was vegan, in two of the
upscale sweet stalls. You can find the recipe for
Kaju Katli at Mumbai masala.

I also found some delicious sweets made by Haldirams
in numerous supermarkets. Most of the sweets available
in upscale sweet stalls is laden with milk products
such as ghee(clarified butter). It's really hard to
get vegan sweets in India.

5.Cafe : Numerous cafes similar to starbucks are
present in cities and towns across India. In
Bangalore, I often went to cafe coffe day. The black
coffee and the vegan shake in this cafe is great!

Barista is also very popular cafe in India.


Victoria Macarthur said...

I'd love to go to India one day, so this is a great review. Did you have much trouble explaining that you do not consume dairy products?

Rural Vegan said...

This is incredibly helpful information, thank you!

Kumudha said...

victoria macarthur,
Even though most of the dishes can be cooked with vegetable oil, some restaurants tend to use clarified butter(ghee) to make dosas(lentil and rice pancake). So, I always made sure to tell the waiter not to add a dollop of ghee to sambars, curries and dosas.

I always tell the manager of the resturants not to add diary products in my dishes, if I'm in restaurants where I can't communicate with the waiters in the local language. Most of the managers in modest restaurants can communicate in english.

Many vegans find India to be a vegan-friendly country.

Priya said...

I have great respect for Vegan's who value other living being's life. It's easy to be a vegetarian but needs conscious effort in being a vegan. As Mahatma Gandhi said "
To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body" & my friend Vaishali of earthvegan had quoted in her blog too. Proud of you!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Wow I would love to go to India some day. Indian is one of my favorite cuisines. In fact, now you have me craving some!

Anonymous said...

someday i will visit India and these tips will come in so handy!

Madhuram said...

Very useful tips for vegans traveling to India.

I have something for you in my blog. Check it out.

Hetal said...

U have a nice blog...would love to see u on my blog

jd said...

This is such a fantastic list! I'm planning to take a trip to India in the future, & I'll definitely be taking a copy of your post with me!

Also, I like your idea of asking for oil instead of ghee in Indian food - it's a useful suggestion for the Indian restaurants in the U.S, too.

Thanks for the great ideas!

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Is here any phrase or terminology in hindi/urdi that I could use when dining somewhere where English isn't the best option to say that my version of veganism includes not eating dairy products and all the rest?

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