As a teenager, Abhay Rangan was unaware of the cruelty animals were subjected to for their meat. But eight years ago, his parents on their wedding anniversary turned vegan and an interesting journey started for him. The 21-year-old engineering graduate now holds PETA’s Outstanding Activist of the year award and the Vegan of the Year award from the Indian Vegan Society.
The Logical Indian contacted Abhay to get an insight into his cruelty-free initiative. “My parents turned vegan on their wedding anniversary 8 years ago. Inspired by them, I took a good, hard look at the dairy industry and realised the horrors that dairy animals go through,” he said. “I could no longer participate in it and decided to turn vegan. After we were vegan, my mother started making plant-based dairy products at home for our family to consume, and that is when everything started,” he further adds.
Realising that there are not many vegan alternatives for people to choose from and whatever was available was expensive, Abhay, along with the help of his mother, started Veganarke, a start-up that provides highly affordable, nutrient-rich, plant-based dairy alternatives such as peanut curd and almond milk. It was not an easy journey for him to undertake.
He says, “We had to do all the manufacturing and distribution personally and didn’t have any capital to afford hiring/outsourcing. We used to manufacture our products in our kitchen and I would deliver them on my bike, all over Bangalore. It was fine for the first few months when we started out, and when orders started increasing, it became harder.”
The vegan way
Ice creams, curd, milk, cheese, all kind of dairy products and meat have become an intricate part of our lives, but seldom we think about the abuse of animal rights that go hand in hand with these food products. Even after knowing about this persistent problem, it is difficult to raise a voice against it. It is difficult to give up habits and adopt something new.
“Humans kill hundreds of billions of animals every year in horrifying ways. It struck me that in a world full of delicious, nutritious plant-based products that can easily replace animal ingredients, it makes sense to be vegan,” he says while talking about his inspiration.
He hopes and believes that a day with come when Indians will accept veganism. “Plant-based food is the inevitable future as it’s more resource efficient, nourishing, uncruel, and delicious,”
“The key is awareness – we believe that if we made a product that tasted and performed like dairy, and was sustainable, delicious and nutritious – and removed friction in being able to access it, people would switch.”
The future looks good
There was a time when Abhay would travel throughout Bangalore on his moped to make deliveries. It was difficult – the products weren’t shelf-stable, resulting in many of them spoiling before reaching their destination. Now, with a seed funding of Rs 2.5 crore, they have started shipping nationwide.
“We’ve been able to innovate to make our products shelf stable, and manufacture out of a facility that ensures complete safety, and no human intervention during production.”
The Logical Indian appreciates Abhay’s vision and initiative and wishes him success in his future endeavours.