Healthy Celebrations

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

I recently went to a celebration and found that there was almost nothing that I was willing to eat there. Everything was unhealthy – fried with ghee and butter, lots of sugar, or dairy etc. While it may have been temporarily tasty, I wondered if people really enjoyed the feeling that they have after such a meal – acidity, heaviness, and discomfort? I realized that such food is offered during a celebration not to make people feel bad, but only because this is a custom. Everyone wants to please the guests by serving the richest food possible.

Because this happens, we have begun to believe that food cannot be delicious if it is healthy. And truly the opposite is true. In fact, healthy food nourishes the mind and body, and can be made tasty. And although it may take a while to let go of the old comfort food, taste buds change and eventually most people love the new food.

I found that when we talk about a whole plant-based diet, many people visualize deprivation. And it’s always a pleasure to see the surprise on people’s faces when they see how delicious it can be! Our cooking classes are a source of pleasure to so many, and I am happy to see more and more healthy restaurants and food providers pop up all over India. It’s my hope that more and more people will realize that it’s truly much more fun to eat healthy than it is to be sick.

7th April is World Health Day and we have a line-up of free events coming your way –  Ask the Experts session, where you can get your health related queries answered, Building Healthy Habits and Kickstart Your Health with our founder Dr Nandita Shah.


I had the wedding of my dreams

Vraj & Himaja Delhiwala celebrated their wedding in a special way indeed.

I’m Himaja and I’ve been a vegan since 2019. And in December 2021, I had the wedding of my dreams; A vegan and feminist wedding. I was determined that my wedding should reflect my beliefs, and not the society’s. Although dairy is a must-have at any Gujarati wedding, I knew that such a happy occasion cannot be a sad one for animals. I did not want our celebration to cause any suffering to animals. So I talked to a few chefs in Ahmedabad, and found one who agreed to a fully vegan menu. However, I think veganism is not just a dietary choice, but a lifestyle. It means that you’ve to eliminate animal suffering to the extent possible in every choice you make – clothing, food, ceremonies, decoration, and so on. So, in our havan ceremony, we used the vegan ghee that my mom had prepared from coconut oil and vegetable ghee. Also, Vraj (my husband) and I did not wear silk or leather at the wedding. It was not an easy road – many (read most) people could not understand why I wanted everything to be vegan. They said we could have vegan options, but let non-vegan people eat their cheese and rabdi. But, I decided that animal cruelty can never be justified by someone’s taste buds and sensory indulgences. Looking back, it was worth the fight. It feels great to have successfully pulled off a fully vegan wedding in India. I am even more thankful that I found support from close family, including Vraj in planning the vegan menu – he came with me to the tasting sessions and helped me brainstorm ways to veganize certain items, particularly sweets like basundi.

Vraj and I are based in California, USA and follow the SHARAN India lifestyle to the extent possible. In the past, I have attended some cooking sessions offered by SHARAN India, and I’ve found them very helpful and inspiring. We try to cook oil-free and we have almost completely replaced sugar with date paste now. In particular, I attended a salad revolution class that motivated us to eat healthier and to “eat the rainbow”. I look forward to increasing the number of whole-foods plant-based meals that I eat every week. I am grateful to SHARAN India for making this lifestyle understandable and accessible to so many people in India and abroad.

Green Thai Curry

Party food can be super delicious without the dairy and oil. Try it for yourself with this recipe. You will actually feel the flavours.


For the Paste

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 green chillies (if you want to make red or yellow curry, replace green chillies with 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder or
  • 1 tbsp yellow chilli powder)
  • 1 tbsp chopped rind of kaffir lime
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped into 4-6 pieces
  • ½” pc galangal
  • 2-3 lemongrass stalks
  • ½ tsp cumin (jeera) powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
  • 1 tsp unrefined salt

For the Curry

  • 1 cup chopped baby corn or unpeeled carrots
  • 1 cup chopped spring onions with greens
  • 1 cup chopped French beans or diced green capsicum
  • ½ cup chopped brinjal (optional)
  • 1 cup quartered button mushrooms
  • 1-2 cups diced red pepper (red capsicum)
  • 1½ cups fresh coconut milk
  • 6-8 kaffir lime leaves (this is the magical ingredient and it is critical to the taste of Thai curry)
  • 1 cup diced tofu (optional)


Lightly steam the vegetables (except mushrooms and red pepper) so that they remain crunchy.

Grind garlic, green chillies, kaffir lime rind, onion, galangal and lemon grass with ½ a cup of water to a fine paste.  Roast the cumin and turmeric powders in a medium hot kadhai for 1-2 minutes. Add the paste and salt, mix and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Sieve the coconut milk into the paste and mix. Add kaffir lime leaves and tofu (if using) and mix. Add the steamed vegetables and mix. Once the curry comes to a boil, add the mushrooms and red pepper and turn off the heat within 30 seconds. Cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serves 4-5

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.


Common questions about the plant based lifestyle

When there are so many omnivores around us it’s easy to think that eating the way everyone does is OK. Here are some answers to questions people ask when we suggest whole plant-based eating for health.

1. How can we cook without oil? Don’t we need a little bit of oil?

Oil is a man-made substance that we have created. Our body does not require it. Food can be delicious without any oil. Think about it oil doesn’t taste good but coconut, peanuts, sesame, all other nuts and seeds are delicious. Using them as replacements for oil will always improve the taste of the food.

2. I could give up dairy but I can’t give up my tea and coffee

Both dairy and, tea and coffee are addictive and therefore difficult to give up. But none of these are healthy and they increase acid in the body. Green smoothies are delicious, alkaline, full of nutrients, and help in overcoming the addiction to tea or coffee. Remember that allowing yourself just one is likely to push you back into the addictive cycle.

3. How do I manage when I travel?

The truth is that healthy food is available everywhere. Fruits and vegetables are always available. And even if you cannot manage everything while traveling it would be wise to be as healthy as possible at home so that your body can handle the travels. Always do as much as you can.

4. How can I change the habits of other family members?

The only person we can change is our self and perhaps small children. The others have to make their own choices and you can only be an inspiration.

5. Why should I change my diet?

The reason people are falling sick these days is because we are eating and living the way we have been taught to by our culture, society and advertisements. It’s always more fun to be healthy than it is to eat and be unwell, and sooner or later the sickness always catches up.

6. I could never give up meat, fish and chicken

All you need to do is be aware of what you are doing. The only reason we can eat animals is because we have turned a blind eye at their suffering. And our society condones it. A visit to the slaughterhouse can help change all that. Death is never a pretty sight whether it’s someone else’s or your own.

7. I think whole plant-based diet is extreme

It sounds like that only because the majority are consuming blindly, and most people are ill. The truth is that we are suffering from diabetes, high BP, auto immune diseases, cancers and hormonal problems at a scale never seen before in the history of humanity and this can be prevented.

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.

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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