The Reality About Packaged Food

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

Considering today’s wide availability of packaged foods, it is really hard to believe that there was a time when these were not around. Yet, this was the case when I was growing up. Packaged food was hardly available, and even grains, beans and lentils were sold by weight in paper bags. The countryside looked beautiful without plastic waste strewn around and life was possible.

When packaged foods came in, we considered them to be a boon, especially while traveling. We believed the food to be truly hygienic. Perhaps it was; yet the food industry, like all industries is highly deceptive. The packaging is designed to be irresistible, and the food is too, with the help of highly addictive substances like fat, sugar, salt, milk powder, and MSG. Add to this chemicals to stabilise, emulsify, and enhance shelf life and now these foods can easily be eaten way beyond their expiry dates. Slick marketing tactics make sure that you buy them, if only because the kids insist.

We all know now that none of these products are manufactured with our health in mind. We were willing to pay for them to save time and now we’ve become addicts. But don’t worry, once you become aware of this, it is easy to change your habit.

This time our Salad Revolution is in Hindi! So please invite all those are more comfortable in Hindi to attend, including your helpers, so that when they whip up your salad, they know how to and why, and maybe they, too, can get healthier by having them! To register, click here


The video was an eye-opener!

Tanisha Sangha, Multimedia Director of the India Today Group Digital, saw one video and her life changed. 

I chanced upon an online video of Dr Nandita Shah explaining why one shouldn’t consume dairy. The video was an eye-opener to a young mother like me who was struggling to ensure her kids were getting enough milk on a daily basis! As I delved deeper into the subject and discovered SHARAN India, I realised that almost every food that I thought was ‘healthy’ had some form of meat or dairy. It was a realisation that hit me hard because I was always focused on health and nutrition and I had erred simply because I had been misinformed.

This knowledge is sadly not available in mainstream media, it isn’t easy to find and for some people, also very difficult to accept. However, Dr. Nandita’s explaination made so much sense to me that I switched overnight. Oil-free, dairy-free, meat-free, cruelty-free, processed food-free and guilt-free! In 5 months I have lost nearly 9 kilos, never felt more energetic, no more menstrual pain, no headaches, no sweet cravings – and the best part – more mindful, more patient, more grateful, more compassionate.

I have huge respect for the work that SHARAN India is doing and it has transformed my life. Appreciating the natural taste of raw foods, feeling cleaner, simpler, less complicated, free from the guilt of harming animals and the planet – and connecting with myself at a deeper level while understanding and loving my body – these are just some of the things I will always be grateful for.

I am lucky that I have small kids so I can give them this knowledge at the right age. I realised that sharing this knowledge with even one person can transform the health of a full family. And I will do what I can to spread this message of good health to everyone I know.

Thank you, SHARAN India!

Tomato Ketchup & Mayonnaise  

Two condiments that we usually buy packaged are ketchup and mayonnaise. Our facilitator Shraddha Saraogi shares her recipes and shows you how simple it is to make them at home, that too, without any additives!

Ingredients for Tomato Ketchup:

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 10 raisins (soaked in water and ground to paste)
  • 2 tsp date paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder


  1. Steam the tomatoes with skin, cool and blend to a smooth paste
  2. Heat a pan, add the tomato paste and mix in all other ingredients
  3. Cook for 15 mins on a slow flame till thick
  4. Cool and pour in a sterilized jar and store in fridge for up to 20 days

Ingredients for Mayonnaise:

  • 1/4 cup cashews, soaked for 4-5 hrs
  • 1/2 tsp mustard paste (grind 2-3 tsp mustard seeds with 2 tsp water)
  • 1/2 tsp flax seed powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 tsp black salt
  • A pinch of salt


  1. Drain and wash the cashews. Blend with all other ingredients in a mixer.
  2. Pour in a jar and store in fridge for up to 4 days

Makes 1/2 cup

Food for the mind


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

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.


The Reality About Packaged Food         

Packaged foods are present in almost every household across the world. They are not only convenient to use but also well marketed, so as to make us believe they are tasty and healthy. But are they really?

Apart from these foods being highly processed, the additives that they contain come with a whole set of problems. A close look at their labels will show that they are full of them. Food additives are substances added to packaged food to make it look good and taste better, to improve its texture, to keep it stable and to increase its shelf life. They appear as numbers in the ingredients list, sometimes marked by initial letters ‘E’ or ‘INS’.

Let us see why we need to look carefully at the labels of packaged foods.

1. Food additives consist mostly of chemicals

Additives can be natural or artificial. Since they are produced at a large scale, it is more profitable for the manufacturer to add the artificial ones. This means the additives are synthetic and full of chemicals.

2. Hormone disruptors

Chemicals are known to disrupt hormones, and additives have been strongly linked to male and female infertility and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)

3. Highly addictive

They are added to make the product look and taste better and hence, very addictive. Even natural additives like sugar, salt and oil (which are highly processed in and of themselves) are addictive. 

4. Hyperactivity in children

Food colours are mostly by-products of coal tar. They are used in several foods like candies, sweets, soft drinks, cakes and ice creams and can be the cause of ADHD and hyperactivity in children. 

5. Allergies and respiratory problems

Certain additives can give rise to allergic reactions like rhinitis, or more severe conditions like asthma and bronchitis.

6.  Added sugars

There are at least 80-100 highly processed natural or artificial sweeteners which can be added to the foods, without them being labeled as sugars!

7.  Carcinogenic

Most dangerously, additives have a strong link to cancers. TBHQ and BHT (antioxidants in refined cooking oil/fried food), saccharin (sweetener), nitrites/nitrates (preservatives in processed meat), food colourings and carrageenan (emulsifier) are just some of the additives that have been linked to cancers in studies.

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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 Gijs Van den Broeck who has recently joined SHARAN as a volunteer.

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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