Looking Back, Looking Forward

 
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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

The end of the year is always a time for reflection. This year, our SHARAN team members have made us exceptionally proud. Each one has been an inspiration in going out of their way to do even more work and reach out to even more people. Their collective efforts have helped us grow as credible changemakers in the world of wellness. Although this gives me enormous satisfaction, I do believe that our work has just begun and our responsibility has taken a larger dimension.

Having worked with so many people on their health issues, a core question that still confounds us is why changing one's lifestyle is so difficult even when the rewards are so high? It's really hard for people to come to terms with the fact that the doctors who have treated them for 30 years may not, in truth, be offering them the best advice. Despite being dependent on medicines for 30 years, we continue to believe that our doctors can help. We don’t always notice that the doctors, too, are struggling with their own ailments. All the advanced technology that promised to make our lives easier has only made us more dependent. Of course, medicines and hospitals keep people alive. Many of us would panic if medicines suddenly became unavailable. And I think it is this fear of getting off medications and depriving ourselves of our comfort foods, familiar tastes and habits is what deters most from making lifestyle changes. 

So, here’s a tip to get you started – instead of being over ambitious, start with smaller and more doable goals. Try going vegan for only a month. At the end of the four weeks, you may not feel so deprived after all, and perhaps realise that being sick is an even bigger deprivation.

The SHARAN team is all set to take their efforts to the next level in the new year. And, we sincerely hope that one day we will step back, stop our work and take satisfaction in a world where medicines have no place, where sickness is a thing of the past. Until then…the momentum is on!

From all of us at SHARAN, wish you all a wonderful 2019.

 
 

An experiment that's still working!

Mumbai-based couple Kiran & Arun Bhatia share how a three month experiment has snowballed to three years and there is no looking back for them.

In 2008 we got our house remodelled. The aftermath of eight months of breathing sand, cement and dust filled air inflicted Arun with a severe asthmatic disorder. An 18 month dosage of inhalers and steroids arrested the situation but the condition of heavy breathing still prevailed. In 2015, a casual day picnic to the Gowardhan Dairy farm near Pune revealed the "well cared but torturous" treatment of cows for milk production. This was truly an eye opener. Then a visit to the SHARAN counter at the organic farmers market where we tasted a dairy-free sugar-free cake made us want to know more. A quick insight on the benefits of ‘being vegan’ and SHARAN's activities gave Arun new hope of getting rid of his asthma. Our only concern – could a family whose day starts with milk loaded tea and ends with a glass of Horlicks laden milk and umpteen servings of paneer, yoghurt, lassi, basundi, icecreams and other milk based goodies in between give up all of these, in a jiffy ? Tough but not impossible, we told ourselves. No harm in trying for three months, we could always go back to our former diet but try we must, I pointed out.

We have always believed that there is no gradual process of "giving up" – it's either completely in or completely out. We picked a date 24 December, 2015 – our family dinner on Christmas Eve. The table was laden with a host of meat dishes and milk based desserts. Arun and I simply announced that we were going vegan. Everybody around us had a hearty laugh, my mother-in-law started wondering what to do with the food cooked, but we were adamant. We had crossed one hurdle and we expected many more but we held on to our decision.

We travelled to the UK for a two week vacation and were amazed at the vegan options widely available. Today, after almost three years we have only gained a host of good habits and happily let go practices that were ingrained into us over the years. So now, we experience:

– more energy during the entire day as our body puts less effort to digest what we eat

– less occurrences of asthmatic attacks and are off medicines totally (barring a standby inhaler for emergencies during travel)

– increased intake of raw veggies, fruits and all kinds of nuts

– weight loss by 5-7 kgs

– zero desire to eat meat based food; we just don't miss it.

If you were to ask us if we have become 100% vegans and do not consume a drop of milk, I would have to say no, not yet. But we are almost there and will admit that besides eggs, our non-veg consumption is zero and our milk consumption has dropped by 90%. We are constantly on the lookout for vegan options to satisfy our small cravings that still persist but whatever we have achieved till date has made a huge difference to our health. And we are aware that there is no turning back now. Our three month trial with so many positive outcomes has convinced us both to accept veganism as our dietary way of life forever.

Omelette

Eggs have two components that offer cause for concern –  the yellow and the white, undoubtedly! Eggs are basically a hen's period and are not meant for human consumption. And, vegans don't miss eggs with the tastier and easy to cook alternatives. For instance, try tofu for scrambled eggs and flax seeds for baking! Plus, here’s an omelette recipe that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup besan (chickpea flour)

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes

  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onions

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped coriander

  • 1/2-3/4 tsp black salt

  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped green chilies

Method:

Sieve the chickpea flour. Slowly, add water into the flour and knead well to avoid lumps. Mix the rest of the ingredients with the flour.

Heat a ceramic tawa on medium flame and pour a ladle full of batter to form a thick layer. As soon as the bubbles appear, cover the pan with a lid and cook till the omelette starts to look dry. Turn it over and cook for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4

Pause to Ponder

FACEBOOK SUPPORT GROUP

If you love Facebook, then join us to be supported on your plant based journey. Since 1 January, 2016, we have been 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.

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Looking back at 2018

With health concerns increasing by the day for all including the young, we at SHARAN are committed to raising awareness of the whole plant based diet to as many people as possible. It is the need of the hour. Not only for the health of individuals, but for the sake of our planet and other beings too. As a wrap up of the year, the SHARAN team stepped back to review our work in 2018. This was not to pat ourselves on the substantial ground covered but to draw up a blueprint to map the course for the coming years. So, here is a snapshot of the achievements.

We would love to hear from you not just on what we could do more, but also what we could do better. 

1. Launched new programmes

Conquering Cancer, Happy Periods,  Blind Date with a Movie, Book Reading Club, 10 Steps to a Life without Medicines, Sustainability Workshop, Food & Fitness workshop, Fireless Cooking in Nature, The Salad Bar class and more

2. Online programmes reached out to many

Smoothie with SHARAN, Salad a Day, Soup a Day, National Dairy Re-Education Day Special, 21-Day Retreat on Whatsapp

3. Face to face consultations at the Mumbai centre

Alhough our Skype and phone consultations options are doing well, some patients prefer to meet their doctor in person.

4. ‘Ask Dr Nandita’ series

We answered questions and cleared people’s doubts through this series. 

5. Cooking sprees around the world

Our cooking experts flew across the UK, US, Dubai, Hyderabad, Kolkatta, Bangalore, Delhi and drove down to Pune for two to five cooking sessions at each space. We thank our local collaborators for facilitating these sessions.

6. SHARAN’s ‘Timeless Recipe’ book sold out within a year!

7. We partnered for the Premier of Dominion in Bangalore and End of Meat in Mumbai

8. Annual retreat

Each year, our team members from all across India and the world meet for a retreat. This year's retreat was extra special as we spent three days at the Sadhana Forest, which made each one of us experience the planet in a different perspective, as we learnt so much about ourselves and each other too.

9. New leaflet of vegan recipes

This was designed in a day to show people that they don't really need to miss anything when they go vegan.

10. Completed 25 Six Weeks to Health & Weight Loss programmes

This programme is an excellent support system for those who wish to walk the vegan path.

11. Connected with the Vegan Master Chef Challenge as speakers

The Vegan Master Chef Challenge is designed to teach budding chefs the theory and practicals behind cooking healthy and vegan. We want more restaurants to have vegan options so its easy for everyone to eat out and be healthy.

13. SHARAN participated in the India for Animals (IFA)

SHARAN participated in the India for Animals (IFA) conference in Hyderabad. This conference serves to unite animal welfare, animal rights and vegan activists.

14. Participated in several vegan fests

Proveg Utrecht, Wilderfest Bangalore,  One Earth Festival Mumbai, Wilderfest Delhi, Yogi Fest in Gurgaon

 
 
https://sharan-india.org/people/reyna-rupani/

This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Head of Mumbai, Reyna K Rupani, She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health & 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 the benefits of plant based lifestyle through her talks.

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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