In February, food solidarity initiatives in UAE and India showcased the varied reasons for choosing a plant-based diet, while sharing some absolutely delicious foods with students. And in Argentina, we shared fresh, healthy foods with children after a fire damaged a local soup kitchen.
A Huge Success in Dubai
This month, our friend Kinshu Arora spoke to 200 students and faculty members at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Dubai, an event she describes as “by far the most impactful vegan event in Dubai”.
Over 25 minutes, she spoke about the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of choosing a vegan lifestyle. After the talk, Kinshu showed them Dear Humankind, a short film about the pandemic.
Afterwards, everyone enjoyed plant-based burgers, made from a patty of mushrooms, buckwheat, and pistachios, served in an artisanal bread bun with pickles, sauce, truffle mushrooms, and vegan gouda cheese. A big thank you to Yumi, the 100 percent plant-based business, who supplied this amazing food. Everyone loved it, and it opened up a lot of conversations while allowing us to dispel a lot of myths!
Some of the students had never heard the word ‘vegan’ before, many said they had learnt about the impacts of the animal agriculture industry for the first time, and some felt inspired to make changes right away.
Says Kinshu: “As an activist, it’s extremely important for me to never let animals down whenever I speak up for them. And I utilized this opportunity to make people aware of how what they choose to eat involves causing unnecessary harm to these sentient animals and how it creates a huge impact on our planet. There were so many students who walked up to me and expressed their happiness by making them aware of the things they never knew. It really was the biggest success!”
Towards the end, a group of students approached Kinshu to ask if she would organize another session with students who couldn’t make it this time. Of course, she said yes! Hopefully, this is the first of many inspiring and powerful sessions for students in Dubai, thanks to Kinshu’s incredible work.
Talking to Students in Udaipur
Vegan Beings, a café in Udaipur, India, was invited to speak to students of Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology as part of Million Dollar Vegan’s #TakePandemicsOffTheMenu campaign.
They served more than 250 students from multi-discipline programs a delicious peanut butter and banana smoothie, and vegan pasta in both a red and white sauce. The students absolutely loved the food and were eager to know how to make these dishes. They also wanted to know more about how they could veganize other dishes they love.
Farah Ali and Pramod Singh Negi, co-owners of Vegan Beings, were amazing. They answered all the students’ questions and helped them understand what a vegan diet is and why it’s so great for our health.
One of the students told us, “I really didn’t realize till today that we already ate so much vegan food. I always thought vegan food was something quite different and unfamiliar. I mean, our traditional meals of roti, sabji, dal, chawal are almost always vegan like Farah Ma’am pointed out. And now I want to learn some more new dishes that aren’t Indian. I just loved the smoothie and pasta. Both were something we don’t have often and if I learn how to make them, I’ll enjoy them regularly.”
That is music to our ears!
Dr. Sarla Lakhawat of the university was curious to know how they can introduce the topic of plant-based dairy and plant-based protein in the college. Moreover, they have suggested we should work collaboratively to research the health benefits of the diet by implementing a vegan diet for their hostel students for a period of three months in the next semester. Our other volunteers, Manish Kumar Meghwal, Parth Vaishnav, and Lokesh were thrilled to see how effective their efforts had been at raising awareness about vegan food and the connection between animal agriculture and zoonotic diseases.
Another brilliant day, thanks to our brilliant partners and volunteers. Thank you, all.
Facing Challenges in Buenos Aires
This month, organizing a food solidarity project in Argentina was not an easy task. At the end of January, a fire in the Arcoiris soup kitchen in the city of Buenos Aires forced it to temporarily close its doors.
The flames originated from a short-circuit and in a matter of minutes the kitchen equipment, utensils, and furniture were damaged, and that meant all the activities that were carried out in the community area were forced to end.
While donations of materials and tools come in and the repairs are made, Arcoiris volunteers still attend every week and set up a table outside. Alongside Million Dollar Vegan, they turn more than 30 kilos of agro ecological fruits into fruit salad for the children of the neighborhood. And, because these children need strength more than ever, we add nuts and seeds to give them a protein boost along with some healthy fats.
Despite the difficult circumstances, this team of volunteer maintains its commitment to delivering healthy food free of animal cruelty to those who need it most, and we are so grateful.