By Maneka Gandhi
There are so many opportunities for vegans now. All you need is perseverance and courage – but you need that for any business. Here are some more ideas of how to earn money and change the world:
You don’t have to sacrifice fashion for a more compassionate lifestyle. You can have both! Many high fashion elegant products are made from recycled polyester. Cruelty-free shoes, belts and wallets are sold in thousands of on and off line shops now, using only non-animal materials that are environmentally friendly – plant-based or man-made materials such as ultra suede, organic cotton, canvas, nylon, velvet, linen. Even the shoe glue has not been tested on animals, nor made of them.
You could start a weekly organic market. People for Animals did that for a little while and did very well. Now Delhi has three weekly organic markets and they sell everything from seeds, plants, vegetables and salads to oils and cheeses. You could add vegan cookbooks, vinegars and sauces, teas, pottery, perfume, soap, skincare, hair products, and have a vegan deli. One day it will become a permanent market with an allotted space from the government, like the flower market. Sydney has a vegan festival every year and it is big, with people taking part from all over Australia (www.crueltyfreefestival.org.au.) You could have it annually and call it the Cruelty Free Festival.
I need to shop at a vegan bakery, confectionery, and chocolatier; offering vegan sweets of every kind, including baked goods, chocolate truffles, fudge, caramels, toffee, brittle, peanut butter cups, marshmallows, peppermint crèmes, patties, brownies, toffee, cakes, cookies, meringues, muffins, donuts, cupcakes, croissants, cheesecakes, marmalades and chutneys and elegant gift baskets. Vegan and gluten free works for me – ethical decadence! A sweet treat with no chemicals, no genetically modified organisms, and no animal products. But in order to do this, you need to source your ingredients responsibly and check every supplier thoroughly. Instead of palm oil, use coconut and cocoa butter. For sweetener, use evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, and pure maple sugar. Don’t forget the smoothies and fresh organic juices. And certify everything Non GMO.
You could have a niche shop that just sells oils, milk and butter: olive oil, yerba mate, coconut, flax, chia, hemp and black sesame oils, cashew and shea butter, almond oil and milk, agave nectar, flax-milk, organic whole grain rice-milk, maple syrup, molasses, organic coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol, good sunflower oil. Add animal rights shirts, buttons. Enhance health through nutrition.
Surprise people by offering them a wide range of mock meats and cheeses: Chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, kebabs, steaks, burgers, mince pies, bacon, nuggets, sausages, mutton curries, fish fillets, chicken pot pie, French toast. Vegan cheese alternatives are sold online: Hazelnut-based Smoked Gouda, Chipotle Cheddar and Monterey Jack, Soy-based Feta Crumbles, Cashew-based Chia Cheese Sauce. This kind of food turns a lot of people, who are making a transition, into vegans. There are mock meats (like FRY) which are free from meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, cholesterol, hydrogenated fats, GM ingredients, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
If you have a café, be careful to use no plastic. Use unbleached, 100% cotton cloths for napkins. This eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, such as bleach, which is used in common laundering practices. Compost your scraps, or give them to animal shelters. Do not buy bone china. Wash the dishes with the most environmentally-friendly products. Print your books, labels, and menus on recycled paper with soy based ink. Use the waste vegetable oil to power your car, so you never have to buy petrol.
If I knew a shop with just vegan alcohols – beer and wine, that is what I would gift drinkers. Most commercial wines use fish, or farm animal products, to process the grapes – shrimp shells, bovine tissue (like hooves), eggs, dairy, sturgeon bladders called isinglass. However, smaller wineries can be vegan. You need to look on the Net and order from them.
You could make one product from your home and advertise it: peanut butter without palm oil and preservatives, for example, or energy bars made with dried fruit, nuts and spices. The Vegg LLC (www.thevegg.com) is a manufacturer and wholesaler of a powdered vegan egg yolk, sold online. It’s a one person business owned by Rocky Shepherd. who invented the world’s first vegan egg yolk! You could get in touch with him and offer that to confectionaries.
Start a vegan cosmetics and skin care shop. Vegan cosmetics, plant derived with no animal oils, gelatine or bones in them, are in any case better for the face. Companies abroad sell cosmetic liquid and powder foundations, eye shadows, blushers, concealers, bronzers, lipsticks, lip balms and mascara. Not tested on animals, cruelty-free and harmful chemical-free products, they replace even beeswax with natural oils such as organic Jojoba oil. In order to do away with preservatives, local products are used. 100% natural skin care products can be made without alcohol, parabens, fragrance, wax, dyes, toxic contaminants, sodium lauryl or laurethsulphate, petrochemicals, artificial colorants and perfumes, glycols, synthetic preservatives or additives, bulking agents, or hidden ingredients of any kind! Most soaps are made with animal fat. Palm oil is actually a drying agent and it doesn’t hydrate or help the skin. But commercial manufacturers use it because it is cheap. Likewise, shellac and lanolin are common ingredients which are no good for the skin but are commonly found, as they can be preserved for a long time. Vegan soaps use vegetable oil and natural fragrances, and handcraft each soap. These would be allergen free. So would shampoos, conditioners, liquid hand soaps, bar soaps, bath and shower gels, and body lotions.
It bothers me that we should feed one animal to another. So, don’t forget vegan pet food and supplements for cats and dogs. They exist. We just have to get them into India, or make them ourselves. Cats need taurine if they are to be vegan. But normal taurine is made from cow bile and that brings us back to square one. However it is possible to make synthetic taurine.
Since I became minister we use Gaunyle in the ministry. It has a very pleasant smell and does a good cleaning job. It is vegan and its base ingredient is cow urine, which is a disinfectant. It is possible to have dishwashing liquid, powdered and liquid laundry detergents, and all-purpose spray cleaner without harsh chemicals that have been tested on animals. There is a company, called Planet Inc., which develops and sells environmentally-friendly products which are plant based, hypoallergenic, and clean well. They are 100% biodegradable. Their certification requires three things: First, each ingredient must break down into basic minerals, carbon dioxide, and water, and a minimum of 70% of it must degrade within 28 days. Second, each ingredient must be able to degrade, even in worst-case conditions (for example, without oxygen). Third, no ingredient may harm aquatic life while it is degrading.
(To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peoplefor animalsindia.org)