For the longest time, the term ‘vegan’ translated to plain old salads, in the public imagination. But, with an increasing number of people switching to veganism owing to health or ethical reasons, plant-based diets are now becoming more versatile.
Over the last few years, this has caused a significant shift in the market. In the past, most vegan ingredients had to be imported, which meant exorbitant prices that acted as a deterrent for ordinary customers. However, vegan ingredients have now become more accessible and pocket friendly, thanks to local suppliers and homegrown brands.
My Kolkata spoke to Madhuja Dey, the owner of Vegan Daily – east India’s first e-commerce vegan grocery store that supplies ingredients straight to your doorstep!
Edited excerpts from the conversation follow…
My Kolkata: Tell us a little about the inception of Vegan Daily
Madhuja Dey: Early on in my journey as a vegan, I realised that just me switching to veganism was not enough. For this switch to have an impact, I had to encourage others to take it up as well. But this was impossible without regular access to the right kind of plant-based ingredients. This is when I started a company called Vegan World, which was a distribution company that supplied vegan products to commercial kitchens, 5-star restaurants, local stores and e-commerce stores across Bengal. Alongside this, I also started Vegan Daily, an online grocery store supplying vegan products directly to consumers in Kolkata.
From mock meat to vegan dairy products - Vegan Daily has it all
What kinds of products are available at Vegan Daily?
Our line-up can cater to any requirement that a customer might have – be it for daily meals, exotic dinners or for making authentic Bengali cuisine from scratch. Apart from mock fish, mock chingri and mock meats of all kinds, we also have vegan butter that tastes just like the regular ones, but is cholesterol-free and dairy-free. We store different varieties of milk, including cashew milk, oat milk and millet milk. Some of our other products are ice-creams, vegan paneer and a variety of vegan cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and even rare ones like blue cheese and gouda!
Our clientele includes both vegans and non-vegans. You may not be vegan, but you may be lactose intolerant, and we have a range of lactose-free products as well. We also have snacks like cookies and cheeseballs. We aim to cater to everyone.
Vegan Daily boasts a range of vegan milk and dairy products
What were the challenges you faced while transitioning to veganism?
One major problem with buying vegan products from a regular grocery store was that I had to carefully read through the ingredients listed at the back of the product before buying it. In Vegan Daily, our aim is to ensure that customers do not have to undergo the hassle of scanning through the ingredients because it is already done by our team.
The team at Vegan Daily meticulously scans ingredients so that customers don’t have to
People tend to think vegan food is more expensive. What are your views on that?
This is a common misconception. Most people think that in order to be vegan, one must eat avocados, oat milk and fancy salads. That is not true. Lunch in an average Bengali household is primarily vegan, apart from the fish. So, we may already be consuming inexpensive plant-based meals without being fully aware of it. Furthermore, there is also a simple equation of supply and demand. Currently, some vegan products may be pricey, but this is because there are fewer people consuming them. But as more and more people adopt this lifestyle, those prices are bound to drop.
What are some of the bestsellers at Vegan Daily?
Products like milk, butter and ghee do well throughout the year. There is a year-round demand for mock meat as well. Seasonal bestsellers include products like kombucha and ice cream, which are mostly in demand during summers. The demand for curd also goes up during summers – in fact, this year, we also have vegan organic curd that is set in a matka (earthen pot). During festive seasons, there is a higher demand for products like burgers, sausages and so on.
Mock meat remains one of the most popular items at Vegan Daily
Any tips for those considering a switch to veganism?
It cannot be done overnight. The idea is to be able to strike a balance and slowly reduce meat intake. Start simple: Make any one meal of the day completely plant-based for one or two days every week. From there onwards, this proportion can slowly be increased. Alongside this, try vegan alternatives for things you enjoy eating…experiment with vegan pizza or a tub of vegan ice-cream. When it comes to other aspects of our lives, shopping sustainably and using conscious, cruelty-free products can also go a long way.
Some of the ice-creams available at Vegan Daily
Vegan Daily currently delivers all across Kolkata. Orders placed on the website are either delivered on the same day or the day after, depending on the time of placement.
To place your order, visit https://www.vegandaily.in/products
You can also check out their Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/vegandaily.in/