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Organised by international nonprofit Million Dollar Vegan, more than 2,000 people in Kondhwa in the city of Pune, India enjoyed a plant-based meal to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. The meal was provided as part of a food donation programme to support the most vulnerable communities with nutritious and delicious vegan food during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over May 24 and 25, thousands of people in the city of Pune enjoyed a completely vegan meal to celebrate Eid, thanks to an initiative by Million Dollar Vegan, an organisation created in 2019 by the founders of the Veganuary campaign, and is dedicated to promote plant-based on an international level.
Cooked up in a community kitchen organised by Salim Mulla, founder of Haddiya Social Foundation, dishes included veganised traditional meals such as biryani, made with homegrown startup GoodDot’s plant-based alternative meats.
Commenting on cooking with the plant-based meat alternative, Mulla said that it is “as good or even better than mutton and beef – it’s soft and you can’t make out that it’s not mutton or beef”.
Another classic dish, sevaiyya, was made with dried fruits instead of the traditional diary-containing sheer khurma.
Throughout the socially-distanced event, participants were educated about the sustainability, health and food safety benefits of plant-based eating, especially in relation to the coronavirus.
Experts and scientists have warned that without a drastic change in our exploitation of animals and nature, we are likely to see more deadly disease outbreaks in the future. Nearly three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases to date originate from animals, both from the livestock industry and the wild.
The campaign is part of Million Dollar Vegan’s international food donation programme to support the communities and people in 10 countries most affected and at risk of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact by providing wholesome, nutritious and delicious plant-based meals.
“This vegan Eid is a part of the global food giveaway of US$100,000 to the most vulnerable people,” said campaign manager for Million Dollar Vegan in India, Darshana Mazumdar. “We are putting plants on the menu to take pandemics off.”
Million Dollar Vegan has also partnered with a number of other charities to host food aid programmes in Pune in the midst of the crisis. Alongside the Ammucare Charitable Trust and vegan delivery service Get Moksha, over 100 families have received dry food rations enough to last a month.
Many of the poorest communities in India, from maids and nannies to daily wage labourers and drivers, are now facing the prospect of abject poverty as their crucial life-sustaining incomes are lost amidst the crisis. Living in cramped conditions with little sanitation and where social distancing is an impossibility, they are most at risk of both the physical health and economic impacts of coronavirus.
Organisers of the donation campaigns hope that their efforts will not only provide much needed relief, but will also help to inform people about a more sustainable way of living that will help prevent future disasters.
“No one wants to experience another pandemic,” said Deepti Nambiar Chate, co-founder of Get Moksha. “[Coronavirus] has awakened us to the fact that all animals, including humans, and the environment are closely connected and if we do not want a future crisis we need to respect animals and we can no longer treat them as mere commodities”.
Another initiative, in collaboration with Civil Society, a grassroots volunteer group led by locals Krishnan and Rohit Mahajan, will provide fresh fruit to migrant labourers to support them on their non-stop journeys back to their hometowns during the lockdown period.
All images courtesy of Million Dollar Vegan.