Family Matters

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

It’s been years since I owned a TV and a few years since I stopped reading newspapers regularly. I enjoy the quiet and have enough time to think. 

It’s over 17 years since I moved from Mumbai to Auroville where I live now, closer to nature. Yet things are changing rapidly all over the world, and here in Auroville too. Air pollution is rising, noise pollution is increasing and even light pollution is spreading from nearby Pondicherry. When I moved here, one could always see the moon and the stars. One still can, but rarely without the light pollution. Plastic bags litter the land, cows fight for food with builders who are taking over the land. The world is changing!

Yet, I can still hear the birds sing, the waves roar, and see the trees from my window. Being connected to nature helps me live in a different way. Lets all make the effort to stay connected. It can be done.


Testimonial of Sanjana Thakur

Eighteen year old Sanjana Thakur who attended the SHARAN 21-Day Health Retreat at Swasara in June this year, reflects back and shares her experience of how she felt lost initially and how grateful she is that she stayed on!

We at SHARAN congratulate her, because at such a young age it is commendable to note the amount of effort she has put in. She learnt to cook and to take care of her health!

This is what she wrote:

On the first evening, Dr. Nandita Shah gathered all the participants and facilitators of the SHARAN 21-Day Retreat in the SwaSwara library. We sat around in a circle, each taking a turn to express our reasons for being there.

I sat between my Mother and Maasi, shifting uncomfortably in my cushy armchair as people listed various ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypothyroid. When they asked me why I was here, I looked at my mother and said, “Well… my mother went to a Peas vs. Pills seminar. And she thought this would be a good idea.”

On the sixth evening, as I was stroking Yogi and Veda, the hotel dogs, I called my mother. “Mom, every single person here is sincere and genuine and they actually want to turn vegan!” I bemoaned. “I don’t want to be vegan; I dreamt about paneer paratha last night!”

By the seventeenth day, I experienced a shift. I think I was actually the very last person in the retreat to experience this shift. There were different triggers, of course. For me, it was learning about the cruel treatment of cows, calves, hens, and chicks in the dairy and egg industries. For some, it was the movie nights in the library. For others, it was seeing blood sugars go down and medicines reduce.

On the twenty-first day, the changes in each person’s physicality and consciousness were undeniable. Perhaps you’ll be quietly reluctant at first, like I was, but day-by-day, as you experience everything the retreat offers, you will become ever more emphatically eager.

I could feel myself improving with each lecture, with each walk, with each meal.  With each entry in my gratitude journal I grew more aware of how lucky I am and how little I appreciate my life and myself. By recording my goals and efforts and expectations in the Healthy Habits Now journal, I was able to recognise the aspects of the program that most benefited me. I released stress, kilograms, and inches, received an abundance of energy, and through it all, side-by-side, had one of the most rewarding holidays of my life.

I saw dolphins dance during the Prakruthi Walk, enjoyed Mayavi’s incredible vegan ice-cream and Nandini’s mind-blowing mango mousse, huffed and puffed my way to Gokarna 10km away, coaxed my body into surya-namaskars in daily yoga (although daily may be an exaggeration in my case), fed stray dogs and explored a library in the Goan wilderness with Reshma, and enjoyed art therapy in the beautiful art studio. I even swam 60 lengths in one sitting while I was there – my personal best – and helped cook an Indo-Chinese dinner without hurting myself (or anyone else)!

At the very least, attend the SHARAN 21 Day Retreat for pakodas by the poolside, aquarobics with Captain Joseph, beach walks with Yogi and Veda, remarkable recipes, and magical massages.

At the most, go to discover what everyone is searching for – happiness and health.

Burmese Khow-Suey

Khow-Suey is a colourful and a complete meal by itself. It’s delicious and easy to prepare too! You could get the kids to help you make the condiments as you prepare the curry and rice/noodles.


  • Vegetables – baby corn, button mushrooms, carrots, beans, onions, brocolli, cauliflower
  • 2 cups fresh coconut cream
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp besan/gram flour
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt to taste
  • Buckwheat or brown noodles or brown rice


Chopped toasted garlic, onion, tomatoes, coriander, green chili, cucumber, lemon juice


Grate the coconuts and add water to make creamy consistency. Extract the cream from the grated coconut through a piece of muslin. Dry roast the besan in a pan with the cumin powder. Add vegetable stock and all the vegetables one by one according to how long it will take to cook and bring to boil.  Keep vegetables crunchy. Add the coconut milk, lemon juice   and salt to taste.

Serve with rice or noodles and add garnishes according to individual taste.

Serves 3-4


If you love Facebook, then join us to be supported on your plant based journey. We offer 3 possibilities from 1st Jan 2016.

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.

Food for the Mind


The Family that Eats Together, Stays Healthy Together

With busy schedules and technology paramount, it’s just too relaxing to simply pop in front of the television or computer screen, and have your meals! However, the very act of sitting on the dining table and having a meal together as a family, has far more benefits and is actually de-stressing for the adults!

Apart from the fact that it’s quality time spent together and a great way to bond, it’s been proven that children who ate frequent meals with their families, eat more fruits and vegetables, got better grades in school, stayed off bad habits like smoking and drinking and were less likely to get depressed!

Read 12 tips to make family meals really interesting…

1. Start your meal with ‘I am grateful for….’

2. Share the day’s happenings and failures too. This way your children will realise that problems are a part of life and the focus should be on finding solutions.

3. Introduce your family to different cuisines and if time permits, research a little about the cuisine and country and discuss it.

4. Discuss a current happening or a film or sports or general knowledge or anything that interests the family


5. Play interactive games like memory, connecting words, antakshari etc.

6. Have a silent meal with soothing music in the background

7. Once in a while set up the dining table beautifully, decorate the food nicely, add some candle-light!

8. Write a sweet note for each family member and place it on their plates before they arrive!

9. Invite a surprise guest!

10. Eat blind-folded!

11. Cook the meal together!

12. Eat the traditional way – sit on the floor and eat with your hands

This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Associate Reyna K Rupani, who is based in Mumbai. She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health & Weight loss program and also conducts Health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more. Find out how she has benefited in so many ways by going on a whole plant-based diet here

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

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