By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 6 May: Humane Society International (HIS) today hosted a roundtable for the hotel, restaurant and café industry at Hotel Madhuban here today. It was focused on opportunities to include plant-based protein in the menus of the city’s leading hotels.
The roundtable consisted of three sessions. Campaigner for HIS, Dehradun, Kanak Shriya Kaushik touched upon the activities of HIS. He stated that HSI currently operates in more than forty countries and its focus areas of activities include Farm Animal protection in order to minimise their suffering, ending testing on animals in laboratories, protection of wildlife and efforts to minimise man-animal conflict, population management of stray dogs through sterilisation, cruelty response and legal capacity building. Admitting that it was a huge challenge to turn everyone into a vegan and totally end cruelty towards animals, she added that raising awareness about these issues could certainly minimise the suffering of animals to a great extent. HSI is engaged also with the authorities to raise penalties for cruelty towards animals and make stricter laws in this regard, as also effective implementation.
Sidhharth Sharma made a presentation on “Global challenges in our food system” and touched upon the fact that the food industry is now becoming more aware of increasing demand for plant based alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs. He said that several surveys indicated that over 60 percent people in India are willing to test and switch over to plant based meat alternatives if the prices and quality are good. He added that turning vegan also would directly help in the preservation of environment, since over 18 percent of carbon footprint is caused by animal farming, while the automobile industry produces just 13 percent. He also said that HSI encourages the poultry industry also to switch over to cage free poultry in order to minimise unnecessary suffering in the birds. He pointed out that there are roughly 30 to 40 crore egg laying birds raised year in battery cages and over 200 crores birds raised in battery cages for meat every year. Roughly about one-third of fresh water is being used for animal farming and animals are being bred artificially. This is also a cause of food security crisis in the world. He said that HSI believes in greater institutional awareness as availability and reasonable prices are bound to create much greater demand for plant based alternatives to meat, poultry, and dairy products. Just encouraging end consumers alone would not help the cause.
Chef Varun Sharma, owner of Bodhigreen Vegan Restaurant in Dharmshala and Ladhakh, shared several ways to cut costs through the introduction of plant-based foods in a restaurant. He said that even curd could be made from vegan sources such as peanuts, coconut milk or almond milk or soy milk. He said that the demand for vegan alternatives to meat, poultry, fish and dairy products is rising in India but the biggest constraint are the high prices of the products. Restaurateurs could, however, themselves make these products at much lower cost than branded products. Some leading restaurants the world over are also switching over to vegan food. He also shared information about some of the products and claimed that they not only taste great but are also healthier than the actual meats and dairy products. He added that, slowly but certainly, the demand for vegan food is rising in India and restaurants in the country are also providing vegan cuisine now. He also mentioned some of the companies operating in India producing vegan sausages, vegan chicken and vegan mutton products.
Hoteliers and restaurant owners who participated in the roundtable conference included Kartik Wason (owner of Grand Bakery), Anand Kanti (owner of Sunburn Bistro), and Sunil Uniyal (manager of
HSI holds roundtable on plant based meat alternatives
By Arun Pratap Singh