Maximum city to have a tryst with Ahimsa, again, on Republic Day

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2020

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Day-long fest in Mumbai will see celebrities talking about the positive impact of veganism on individuals and the environment; it will also showcase various vegan products

In December, the iconic Irish band U2 visited Mumbai and amplified the message of Ahimsa to the world. Now, it’s Veganuary (Vegan January) and India’s Maximum City is getting ready for “The Ahimsa Fest 2020” on Republic Day.

In its fifth year on the trot, the Ahimsa Fest is the biggest vegan festival in the country, and easily the largest in South East Asia, said Kuntal Joisher, the world’s first vegan mountaineer, who has scaled Mount Everest twice. Over the years, the festival has grown four times in participation and scale, with about 160 stalls across 40,000 sq ft, Joisher, brand ambassador of the festival, told BusinessLine.

Varied fare

The festival will being together voices from India’s vegan, animal rights, environment and health movements. People can tune into “fitness gyan” from vegan sportspersons, and sample an array of plant-based cheeses, chocolates, desserts, bakery, milks and meats, besides getting exposed to vegan alternatives to leather, silk, wool, toiletries, cosmetics and more, says Joisher.

The Veganuary movement in the United Kingdom has people signing up from across the world, committing to be vegan for a month. “The idea is that in doing so, you benefit from it and so continue with it,” explains Joisher.

Internationally, the vegan movement has some extremely passionate advocates in celebrities such as actor Joaquin Phoenix, who won the Best Actor award for his role in Joker at the 26th Screen Actors Guild awards held last weekend. At the Golden Globe awards ceremony held earlier, the menu was all vegan. And Phoenix, according to reports, thanked the organisers for serving a plant-based dinner, acknowledging the connection between climate change and animal agriculture.

One health concept

The Ahimsa Fest, too, is about not being cruel to animals, your body, the environment and world around us, says Joisher, referring to the concept of interconnectivity and “one health” that is increasingly finding acceptance internationally.

Unlike earlier, when the festival involved a lot of activity, this time around it provides a platform for businesses to showcase their ethical products, he said. Often consumers complain that the premium pricing of vegan products prevents them from following such a lifestyle. To them, Joisher cites parkour athlete Gunjan Sharma, ultra marathon runner Sandeep Kumar and professional body builder Abhishek Thevar, who are at the top of their game, living on simple vegan diets, and are at the festival. “It’s about the choices you make,” says Joisher.

The Ahimsa Fest is being driven by Mumbai’s Ahimsa Parmo Dharma group, involving six professionals who are passionate about a cruelty-free way of life. Instead of a ‘Sangeet’ ceremony (a musical programme) for his daughter’s wedding, founder Atul Doshi had people speaking on veganism, says Joisher.

Other speakers at the Ahimsa Fest will include Dr Nandita Shah, who will speak on depression, anxiety and stress and the connection to diet; Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director at FIAPO India will talk about vegan activism. The day-long event will end in a musical finale by Daniel Weber and Kuntal Avanti and will include the launch of a music video on animal liberation called “Unleashed”, said Joisher.

Published on January 24, 2020

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