Cheer in times of Fear

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

Thanks to the country-wide lockdowns, many of us have suddenly found ourselves with more time. Lists of things to do are floating around – movies to watch, books to read etc. But here's what I suggest – cooking. An almost forgotten pastime these days, cooking is an activity that’s relaxing and fun. 

Unfortunately, our culture has moved from eating at home to eating out. Ready-made foods are everywhere, restaurants have popped up dime a dozen, and junk foods are being served even on the roadsides. Add to that Swiggy and Uber Eats – there's really no reason to cook at home. 

Many of us also look down on cooking. We think it isn’t worth our time, that we won't be good at it, or we can’t make all those tasty foods. But the truth is food made with love is even more delicious, and since we can choose the ingredients, the dishes turn out to be even more nutritious. 

With the ongoing lockdown, many restaurants are closed and we are forced to eat at home. This is a good time to involve the family and come together to enjoy this activity. 

Cooking your own meals has its own benefits. If you have a lifestyle disease, chances are that cooking right can heal you. In these times of economic crunch, you can even save a lot of money while having higher quality food. An added bonus – you can save on the medications that you will cut down when you start healing. Most importantly, your body will become immune to the corona virus.

A healthy Bharat, a disease-free India and healthy, happy Indians everywhere in the world is what we truly deserve. In association with LiveMast, we at SHARAN have initiated a satyagraha plea to our Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modiji  to go 100% plant based in 2020! Join us and sign the petition on



Corona Virus and what I found out!                                    

Rinku Naren from Bangalore discovered something remarkable since the time of self-isolation due to the corona virus

'Last evening, I was having a conversation with my friend and he told me that in this time of self-isolation, work-from-home and social distancing, a lot of people are eager to get back to the office. He told me how people have realised that every member in a modern family set up is attuned to a different purpose and routine, and has different wants and desires. He also said that most people are complaining about this whole lockdown. And then it occurred to me why things are different in my house and none of us are unhappy with this situation. 

I have two kids, aged six and twelve. My husband works in the IT field but has been working from home like thousands of others. My elderly mother lives with me. Ideally, it should have been pretty boring or chaotic. However, in my home it's different. We are all happy in our spaces, kids have not complained about not going out to play, they have figured out ways to keep themselves busy (it’s not restricted to just the TV or mobile) and there is no cribbing about malls and restaurants being closed.

What I realised is that adopting a plant-based diet and organic food has changed us in many ways. Firstly, we have been practicing the 20/21 per week meals at home rule for almost 18 months now. Now it is 21/21 meals. So, there is no excess craving to eat out. If there is some change required, I look at the recipes on the SHARAN website and try my hand at different dishes (the potato tofu kofta was a superhit)!  A lot of people are missing the takeaways too! Perhaps this is what is making them more irritable and upset. As for kids, they tend to snack on instant noodles, chips or chocolates. Now while that is restricted, their cravings haven't stopped and they probably get cranky. I make either a vegan cake at home or sesame ladoos that my kids love to snack. Smoothie is also a favourite with them.  

Yesterday, when we visited the shop for some non-perishable food, I was surprised to see that beyond a Kissan jam and a bottle of orange marmalade, I really couldn't pick up anything else! And I reflected on how my buying pattern has changed from two years ago when so much of cheese and other processed food made its way into my kitchen and our bodies! 

I have also tried to keep my kids involved in the kitchen every week by having them segregate organic veggies that get delivered twice a week and are stored in the fridge. They also help chop veggies for salads. Their involvement encourages to eat them as well, especially my daughter who is a super fussy eater. For a child who only ate potatoes and tuvar dal growing up, now she appreciates most of the plant food that is put on the table. Truly I have Dr Nandita Shah and Nidhi Nahata to thank – for all the changes that our family has adopted and practice'.

Quick cooking tips from Dr Nandita Shah  

When I am at home, I always cook for myself. Despite the effort, I don’t feel like eating out because the food is too good! Here are some tips to help you become a proficient cook too:


  • Plan a menu and plan ahead
  • Keep your pantry reasonably stocked
  • Have a routine to order your organic vegetables and fruit
  • Soak a bean every night
  • Soak whole rice/millets at least four hours before cooking
  • Keep a few things ready in the freezer. I stock frozen bananas for smoothies, grated coconut, ginger chilly paste, date tamarind chutney, coriander chutney, pasta sauce
  • Wash green leaves, spin dry and store in a box so they are always ready for smoothies and salads
  • Keep roasted peanuts and sesame ready
  • Keep a bottle of oil free tempering ready for the whole week. A person I know roasts all her tempering ingredients separately and stores them in bottles so that the seasoning for each dish can be different. An easy solution is to separately roast and store mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal, red chillies and each dry spice, and sprinkle as needed
  • Roast peanuts, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds for use as salad toppings 
  • Make peanut butter and cashew or other nut butters and store in a jar
  • Make vegan cashew cheese and refrigerate 
  • Make salad dressings for 3-4 days at a time


Food for the mind


If you love Facebook, then join us to be supported on your plant based journey. we are offering three possibilities

1. SHARAN India This is SHARAN's main Facebook page which you can like and follow for getting useful daily updates and news from the plant based health world. You will also get news about the latest SHARAN events, see testimonials, and more.

2. SHARAN's Vegan Support Group This is an open support group to know more about vegan/plant-based lifestyle. Here you can ask questions and share inspiring stories, tips, recipes, etc.

3. SHARAN's Plant Powered Health This is the new group only for the past attendees of SHARAN's events: seminars, cooking classes, retreats or longer programs.

All our doctors and presenters will be here to answer your questions and give you tips. If you have attended our events join this group to be a part of our family.

Please like the main SHARAN page and join the group(s) applicable to you.


Cook your way to health                                                                                             

At SHARAN we always recommend cooking with whole, plant-based, and organic ingredients so that you can reach your highest health potential. Now with the coronavirus, its becoming clearer than ever that being plant based is also the best plan for the planet, and naturally the animals. If you would like to make the shift and get well at the same time, we are here to help you! And don't worry, even if you can't do everything, start small and do as much as you can. The more you do the more you will heal and the more exciting it will become. Here are the many ways we can help you learn techniques of healthy cooking that will be appreciated by your entire family.

1.  Recipes online

Can you believe that we have 588 recipes on our website to teach you meat and dairy alternatives, oil free mains, snacks and sugar-free desserts? ( Our SHARAN YouTube channel has several cooking videos too. But we are not the only place. The internet is full of plant-based and whole plant-based recipes.  Now that you have the time why not do a search and see how you can make your favourite dishes healthier and at home? 

2. Recipe books just for you

Our recipe book with more than 77 recipes is available for free download as a PDF or in hard copy. We also have this in Hindi and Gujarati. And our other publications have recipes too. Check these out now when you have more time to read and try.

3. Basic online cooking class

Although many of our cooking classes are currently on hold, we are happy to offer our basic online cooking class to you. This is to help you learn simple, oil and dairy free cooking techniques that you can apply to any recipe that you wish to convert into a healthy meal. Given the current situation, We are offering a 50% off on the cooking class.

4. Eating for health

Given the fact that many businesses are suffering, we decided to make adversity into an opportunity for you. Now is the time to reverse lifestyle diseases. We can help you through our publications and our consultations. Also, our 21-Day Online Diabetes Reversal Program has a 50% discount to help you best utilise your time to get well. And don’t forget the many tips on good health on our YouTube channel too.

5. Raw is easy and healthier

We are conditioned to eat a lot of cooked food. To remedy this, we will be rolling out a month of raw recipes on WhatsApp starting April 7th on World Health Day.

6. Grow your own food

Audrey Hepburn said it best, "To plant a garden is to believe in a better world.". Now is also the best time to set up your own indoor vegetable/herb garden. Sun dry those seeds from your vegetables, and pot them to start growing your food. Why not turn your vegetable waste into rich compost for your garden? You are of course putting less strain on the city corporation as it leads to less bio waste in the dump yard.

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This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Head of Mumbai, Reyna K Rupani, She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health Gain & Weight Loss program and also conducts health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more.

Edited by Vasanti Sundaram, Bangalore who has also benefitted from the SHARAN programmes, and now spreads awareness of plant based lifestyle through her talks.

Sanctuary for Health and Re-connection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) is a social enterprise with the goal of spreading awareness about holistic health and an ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.

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