Hello! I’m Prabhav Agarwal, a rising third-year student at Ashoka University. In addition to pursuing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Entrepreneurship as part of the 2023 batch, I am an aspiring vegan college student. That means I’m constantly on the look-out for delicious vegan food, anywhere I go.
In India, it's uncommon to find vegan food in colleges and hostels. But my experience at Ashoka University was different: I found not just one but many delicious options that were both healthy and suitably Indian.
The set up is pretty simple. If you're looking for dinner for example, simply text 'Dinner Menu' to the mess's WhatsApp chatbot "Messcat," a student-developed program named after the mysterious cat who roams in and around the mess.
From there, you would instantly receive a list of items on the menu for dinner, along with vegan options of the day marked in pink. This helps not just committed vegans on campus, but people who want to eat more vegan friendly meals. Even though I’m not fully vegan, I appreciate seeing options available to me, knowing that not all campuses have access to the same resources or education.
Whether it's penne arrabbiata or spaghetti, most milk-based preparations come with a vegan variant that's ready to order. Ashoka has a sizable vegan population, and an even greater reach of people who are familiar with veganism. This is why I'm so proud to be a part of this campus. We're working together to create a space where all students can thrive, no matter what their dietary preferences are.
It even goes beyond their progressive menu offerings. In fact, some of our academic readings for environmental studies foundation courses talk about how a plant-based diet is better for the environment. In more than one way, Ashoka is ahead of the game. We're not only providing vegan options for our students, but also educating them about why it's important to consider the impact their food choices have on the environment and animals.
Other than college campuses, hostels with vegan options are also difficult to come by. But I have one recommendation for anyone in Bengaluru: Be Animal.
When my friend was in town, we explored new places and found Be Animal, a vegan hostel. Upon arrival at the hostel, I learned they had strict rules regarding food - non-vegan food is not allowed; no exceptions!
If you needed any milk or meat, you would have to go outside to eat it or order at a local restaurant. And if you kept any non-vegan items that needed storage -like ice cream- then it would be thrown out right away.
The hostel boasted of a newly opened vegan cafe where people could have all sorts of plant-based beverages and baked goods. There is also a bookshelf filled with books on various subjects, including veganism. And this is just the beginning!
So don't give up if you're feeling discouraged by the lack of options - keep pushing for more! Keep recommending vegan restaurants, keep asking for more vegan options, and don't stop talking about how great a vegan lifestyle is! I hope this mini blog has inspired you to focus on what's out there, and all that's to come!