New year, new resolutions & I’ve got one too! My resolution: 2019 will be the year to inspire & to get inspired:) How, you ask? I vowed to set out on a journey to talk to exciting vegan rockstars across the world, who not only champion the cruelty free lifestyle themselves, but are also changing the world, one step at a time; and moving us towards a compassionate future where we can all peacefully coexist with our wonderful furry friends. The thought of these conversations literally sent me into an over excited frenzy & I just knew that I had to take you all on this journey with me! And lo & behold! The idea for ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’ was born:) A fun and insightful sneak peak into the thoughts and lives of some truly interesting people doing down right exciting things in the world of veganism! It seemed like the perfect way to bring together my passion for animal rights and a cruelty free lifestyle with my professional background in working with social entrepreneurs:) Some food for thought to go along with all those delicious plant based recipes? Yes, please! And who exactly is the interview series for, you ask? Come one, come all, I say! The vegan curious reader, the first time vegan, the vegan veteran, the aspiring plant based entrepreneur, the inspiration junkie; there’s something for everyone:) Excited yet? I know I am! It’s time to get inspired:)
The first person I want to highlight in the ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’ interview series is Abhay Rangan, a 22 year old rockstar who is the Founder of Goodmylk in India! What better way to celebrate the last day of Veganuary 2019 than to get to know this cruelty free crusader a little better? Here we go! Let’s dive right in:)
- Name: Abhay Rangan
- Location: Bangalore, India
- Change Maker Category: Plant Based Entrepreneur
- Enterprise Name: Goodmylk
- The Year the Enterprise was founded: 2016
- The Elevator Pitch: Making plant based food affordable and accessible in India through delicious alternatives to dairy products
- Products: Plant Based Mylk, Yoghurt, Butter, Easy-To-Use Mylk Powder
- Website: www.goodmylk.in
- Personal Instagram Handle: @abhayrangan
- Organisation Instagram Handle: @good.mylk
Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your story? When & why did you decide to go vegan?
“My story goes back to my parents. About 8 1/2 years ago, they turned vegan on their wedding anniversary and they inspired my sister and I to go vegan six months later. So I’ve been vegan for about 8 years now and I think it’s largely because my family played such a large influence on me getting there.”
When & why did you start your enterprise and what is your vision or dream for the organisation?
“We started Goodmylk about 3 years ago; it was an idea then. We wanted to make plant based food affordable and accessible; and the goal is to become a large scale company that makes plant based food affordable and accessible at scale and makes delicious vegan food available to everyone in India.”
What is your typical daily vegan meal plan? What do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinner?
“My usual food is South Indian food; I mean the good thing about Indian food is that a lot of it is vegan by default so you don’t have to work too hard to find what you want. I’ve always loved South Indian food and it’s ridiculously easy to eat South Indian vegan food.”
(Think Idli, Dosa, Uttapam, the works!)
What is favourite vegan comfort food/dish?
“My guilty pleasure is Potato Chips! And not the stuff that you find in packs at retail stores. I like the hot chips that are made fresh. I don’t know; there’s like a thing that they’ve got that’s almost addictive I’d say. Yeah; I fall pretty hard for that food. It is my number one comfort food.”
“The good thing about Indian food is that a lot of it is vegan by default.”
What is your favourite vegan friendly cooking ingredient that I will always find in your kitchen?
“We don’t use that many alternatives I guess; because a lot of Indian food is vegan by default. But I’d definitely say the oil to butter/oil to ghee substitution has been fantastic. So oil I guess; whatever kind it may be; because different applications require different types of oil. My family uses sunflower and olive oil.”
What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free item of clothing/fashion that I will always find in your wardrobe?
“Oh, my absolute favourite would be a suit. I always look fantastic in suits and I think it brings out the best in me. Yeah; there’s no way you wouldn’t find a suit in my wardrobe.”
Any cruelty free factors to look out for when buying suits?
“Watch out for wool or silk!”
What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free personal care or lifestyle product that I will always find in your home?
“I don’t really use that many personal care items; like besides soap and shampoo I guess. We use Medimix (Ayurvedic/Vegan Indian Soap Brand) in my family.”
What is a product or ingredient that surprised you when you learned that it was in fact accidentally vegan?
“I was surprised to learn that Oreos and Hide & Seek (accidentally vegan biscuit brand in India) are vegan. That’s fantastic! They’re some of my favourite biscuits. Yeah; I’m pretty glad that happened.”
“I would definitely recommend someone who is transitioning to join their local vegan group or community and just get exposed to other people there.”
What is the most common veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related question that a lot of people ask you & what is your answer to that?
“I think it has always really come down to convenience for most people. A lot of people would be vegan if it were a lot more convenient and that’s a problem we’re trying to solve through Goodmylk. I would definitely argue that it’s a lot more convenient to be vegan now than it was before and Goodmylk and other companies like ours are definitely working towards paving the way to make that happen.”
What is a common veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related stereotype or myth that you often come across & that you want to address or break?
“I think the most common myth I want to break is that being vegan is hard. It really isn’t! It’s ridiculously easy in urban settings. You know; most Indian food is vegan by default. It’s so easy to be vegan. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it; and that’s one myth I always wanted to break.”
What’s your favourite veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related Book/Movie/TV Show/Podcast that you would recommend to others & why?
“I actually would not recommend any one podcast or TV show or movie or documentary. I would recommend you go out and watch all of them if you can; because it exposes you to a diverse variety of views. And even with veganism, there are a bunch of views that people disagree on and I think to be exposed to a well grounded bunch of facts is really important. My personal favourite is Earthlings; but I can understand if that is too harsh for some people. It’s not my favourite in the sense that I liked watching it; but I think it’s a favourite in the sense that the impact that it has on the viewers is immense.”
What advice would you give to people/budding entrepreneurs looking to start cruelty free businesses?
“I would definitely ask them to approach it like a business. A lot of people think that; you know just because it’s cruelty free or vegan; that the customers will come by default even if you’re not providing value for money. But the first rule should really be: start looking at it like a business, start adding value to your customers and only then will you be able to help your ideals spread to a large scale. Otherwise it will always remain small and niche and other people are soon going to take over you and you won’t have a cruelty free business to run anymore.”
What are advice would you give to people who want to transition to/continue to maintain a vegan & cruelty free lifestyle?
“I would just ask them to get started. There is no perfect day; there is no perfect time to get started to be vegan. There are no set of perfect circumstances; everyone is in unique circumstances and being vegan is just a matter of going ahead and doing it. I would definitely recommend someone who is transitioning to join their local vegan group or community and just get exposed to other people there. A lot of support groups exist; a lot of people are very supportive in helping other people to be vegan. And I would definitely say that community has been a game changer for me with respect to how I experience veganism and I would say it’s going to do wonders to you too.”
I hope you enjoyed the first ever Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers! I would love to hear your comments or feedback about other interesting questions I could add to my interviews in the future! I’m also looking for other exciting vegan change makers to feature in my upcoming interview series. If you know anyone who is making a difference in the world of veganism (anywhere across the globe), then please leave me a message on my Contact page with the details! Thank you:)