Hyderabad's first vegan expo is a haven for dairy-free, cruelty-free, guilt-free eating
Hyderabad’s vegan movement is gaining ground as restaurants, stores and supermarkets recognise a new demographic dedicated to guilt-free eating
Many vegetarians in mutton-biryani-and haleem-obsessed Hyderabad just went a notch higher on the ethical food scale. At the city’s first vegan expo at Phoenix Arena in Hi-Tech City, there was woke food like breakfast in a bottle, meatless meat, cruelty-free and guilt-free sweets like veganised Mysorepak made with coconut milk instead of buffalo ghee.
Naturally, the event was organised jointly by members of the food faith—two women-led vegan startups Alt Mart & Enya which believe in a healthy animal-friendly world. The City of Pearls is suddenly awash with vegan activity—pop-ups and dedicated vegan restaurants are the new G.O.A.T thing. Take for example, E’woke The Vegan Cafe at Sainikpuri, Hyderabad, which opened in July 2021 and claims to purvey healthy and cruelty-free eating through vegan delicacies.
Ved Mohan, a partner of the cafe, admits that being a vegan in a restaurant was stressful. He had to keep checking the ingredients of preparation when he ate out. E’woke caters to the conscience-savvy vegan crowd which wants to dive right in, knowing that the food has no unpleasant ethical surprises. Naturally out went the milk, butter, cheese etc.
In came soy milk, oat milk, almond, cashew and walnut milk, which are used in their wide range of desserts and vegan cheese for pizzas. Says head chef Srinivas Yadav, “We replicate milk-based desserts such as rasmalai into vegan alternatives. Soft vegan chenna with almond ras, nuts and rose petals go into making these.” If going vegan, why not go the whole way? The cafe has a vegan store attached where the most popular buy is almond milk (`160 for half litre). Isn’t vegan food exorbitantly priced? Says Mohan, “When more people join the movement, we can expect mass production and hence a cost reduction.”
Then there is Mrs. Mage, an alfresco poolside restaurant that opened in November 2021, at Hyatt Hyderabad Gachibowli. Goaded by a moral eating force, the restaurant has added vegan dishes to its menu. Explains Swapnil Dora, Executive Sous Chef, “There has been a steady increase in guests who ordered vegan in just one year. They ask us which alternatives have the same flavours as their favourites.”
Vegans can’t go wrong with the menu because of the (vg) icon. Mrs. Mage’s lineup includes Rock Corn Tempura, Lotus fritters, Tofu salsa brit and Steamed tofu. In place of butter, vegetable oil or tofu is used. About 65 percent of Indians are keen to replace meat with plant-based options, according to a diet survey
by YouGov market research firm released in January.
Plant-based, dairy-free, cruelty-free, and guilt-free eating is entering the value system of urban Indians. About 40 Indian businesses have released or pledged to release vegan products this year. The pace at which supermarkets are earmarking aisles for vegan food, and seeing the growth of vegan restaurants, the trend is here to stay. The Nizam may not approve, though.