Where do you get your protein?

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

Since I recommend plant based diets for reversing diseases, I am often asked by my patients, “what can I eat for proteins?” It’s no wonder because we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for milk, eggs and chicken! Today body building is IN and most trainers advise whey supplements, eggs or meat and chicken. People follow ketogenic diets in the hope of losing weight.

The truth is that protein deficiency is extremely rare except in starvation as every cell contains protein. In fact, today we have the opposite – people suffering from diseases of protein excess like acidity, osteoporosis, gout, chronic kidney disease, and cancers.  

Rarely do we stop to think about where horses, elephants and other strong and powerful herbivores get their proteins from. Popeye with his can of spinach has been forgotten! The truth is that beans and greens are some of the best sources of protein. Low on fat and methionine but high in fibre and nutrients, these sources far outweigh their animal based counterparts. They do not need advertising. They are low cost and delicious. Try them.

We are happy to announce our first ever women’s retreat – The 7 Day Health Holiday! This is the best way to take some time out for oneself. Check out the special Women’s Day offer here


Meet the man who turned vegan and scaled Mt Everest twice

My name is Kuntal Joisher. I’m a Mumbai based vegan mountaineer and a software engineer. 

Born in a vegetarian family I always believed that “animals are sentient and emotional beings with individual characters and have as much right to live freely and happily as much as we do.” In 2001, I moved to the United States to pursue my Masters degree where  my roommate at the university exposed me to the horrors of the poultry, dairy, and leather industry. After that conversation, I connected the dots and realized that a piece of meat, a slice of cake (made with eggs), a glass of milk, a block of cheese, a leather belt and even the feather jacket I was wearing – were all the same and came from abused animals. I could not reconcile to the fact that despite being a  vegetarian I contributed to animal cruelty  and hence I had to take a stand. That was the moment when I turned vegan. And it has to be one of the best decisions of my life.

In October 2010, the biggest dream of my life, to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, came true. Since then, in the past decade or so – I have been part of more than 35+ Himalayan trekking and mountaineering expeditions, completed more than 800+ treks in the Sahyadri mountain range near Mumbai, and spent easily close to 3000+ hours of tough physical fitness training – all to get ready to climb Everest and other big mountains. I ended up climbing Everest not just once but twice. First in May 2016 from the Nepal side, and then again in May 2019 from the China side. There are only a handful of mountaineers from India who have climbed Everest from both sides, and I’m one of them. And I’ve never had any problems doing all of this while maintaining and thriving on a healthy vegan lifestyle.

Coming to my nutrition – it is very simple – I eat a well-balanced vegan diet that doesn’t exclude any food groups (and I truly believe that animal and animal by-products are NOT food groups). I love eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, dry fruits, nuts, seeds, and in addition to that I include small amounts of processed foods such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, plant-based meats, plant protein powders etc as well. As a mountaineer and a body-builder (two extreme sports) – my protein and nutritional needs are slightly higher than a lay person, and I am easily able to hit all my macro and micro nutrition goals from this diet, including my protein requirements. I’ve been able to build top of the world level endurance and muscle  as a vegan for the last 18 years, and I can say it with authority that each one of you reading this can do the same too.  

Last but surely not the least, being  vegan is easy. You can make it happen, no matter where you are or what you are doing. It just takes a commitment – for your health, for the animals, and for the future of our planet!

Palak ‘Paneer’ 

Did you know that 50% of spinach contains protein and tofu is also a rich source of the same. Try this delicious recipe and be surprised

Ingredients (For the tofu paneer)

  • 1 16-ounce block firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup cashew paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt to taste

Ingredients (For the spinach)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped roughly and blanched
  • 1/3 cup plain soy yogurt or other plant-based yogurt


To prepare the tofu, place it in a flat colander (or plate) with a weight on top for at least half an hour, or preferably overnight, keeping it in the refrigerator. You can also use a tofu press. The idea is to drain out all the water to make it suitable to marinate. Cut tofu into cubes or roughly one-inch squares.

In a bowl, mix together cashew paste, ginger, lemon or lime juice, garam masala, and salt, adding water to the paste if it’s too thick. Aim for the marinade to be of the thickness of cream.

Put the tofu cubes in the freshly-prepared paste in a baking pan and let it stand about 30 minutes to an hour, turning it a couple of times to make sure all the surfaces absorb the marinade.

Bake tofu for about 20 minutes at 300°F. (150°C)

While tofu is cooking, heat a large sauté pan and dry roast cumin, coriander, chili powder or crushed red pepper, and turmeric over low heat, otherwise the spices will burn. Add ginger and tomatoes with any liquid from the tomatoes. Cook mixture over medium heat until the juice from the tomatoes is almost evaporated and the tomatoes are cooked.

Separately, in a large sauté pan add a little salt to the chopped onion and “fry” it in its own juice. Add steamed spinach. Add tomato and spice mixture and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to absorb the water. Then add yogurt, mixing thoroughly. Add tofu cubes and cook until warmed through.

Serves 5-6

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 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 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.


Protein Power                                                                                                

Protein is an essential nutrient that we need for growth and repair, but most people tend to get too much of this rather than too little.

Since our body is not designed for animal proteins, these are difficult to digest – leading to heaviness and fatigue. As they travel through our long intestinal tract, they decompose resulting in toxins. Excess proteins eventually cause disease.

A whole-plant based diet covers all our protein requirements, including all the essential amino acids.

Read about 8 protein rich foods…

Simply ensure that these 8 foods form a part of your regular diet and you needn’t worry about your protein!


Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, fenugreek, bak choy, lettuce etc.


Beans such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, soyabeans.


Lentils of all kinds


Vegetables such as French beans, peas, broccoli, asparagus and edamame


Nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews


Seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, hemp and chia


Grains such as amaranth, quinoa, millets, oats, whole wheat and whole rice.


Soya products like soymilk, tofu and tempeh



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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 Deepa Ballal, a freelance writer based in Dubai.

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