Food is one of the things that comes to mind when someone says Hyderabad, rich with a variety of meat products cooked in butter or ghee is what Hyderabadi cuisine is usually about. But in a city like this, how do vegans manage?

Veganism is a lifestyle that involves abstaining from all animal products, including meat and dairy products. It is an extreme form of vegetarianism where the diet solely involves plant products and November 1 is observed as World Vegan Day.

Veganism as a lifestyle itself, is difficult as most Indian dishes have milk products in some form or the other. So it becomes challenging to be a vegan, as Lakshmi Prasanna Mandapati, a physiotherapist explains, “At restaurants, most of the dishes are pre-cooked and it becomes really problematic to eat out. We have to be very specific while ordering.”

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However, Manjula Katikam, who owns a vegan restaurant, is of a different opinion, “I feel it is actually easy enough to be a vegan in Hyderabad, especially if you go to non-veg restaurants as they have more vegan suitable items on the menu, because there’s no emphasis on paneer/cheese/butter. For instance, if I go to a dosa place, 9/10 items on the menu are either paneer dosa or cheese dosa or whatever.

At non-veg restaurants, one can at least order a salad. Besides, there are several establishments that started offering vegan options in their menus. There’s a biryani place which also has a vegan biryani, there are several sweet shops that offer vegan alternatives, so there are decent options.”

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While vegan friendly places exist, there are also people like Yasaswy, a parkour expert from the city, who simply chooses a vegan item when they eat out, he says, “I just order a salad or in the worst case, when I am out with friends and there’s absolutely no vegan option there, I just have a juice and spend time with friends, preferring to eat at my own place later.”

Harsha Maheshwari, a city based dancer, says, “I’m not choosy about food so it’s easy for me. Besides, there are several items on menus that are vegan. All the idlis, chutneys, etc are usually vegan friendly. I just order those when I eat out.”

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Eating at home as a vegan, needs some tweaks, as Lakshmi explains, “Dairy is such an integral part of Indian cuisine that it is really difficult to manage even at home. I have been experimenting with veganism for a few months now and every time my family cooks something at home, they put aside food for me first and then they add ghee or whatever dairy products they want to add.” Harsha agrees with this and says, “Whenever my mom cooks something, she makes sure there’s olive oil in it instead of butter or ghee for me. We can manage with tweaks like this.” #KhabarLive