How These Entrepreneurs are Initiating a Change in the Way India Eats Though Indian consumers have a fair understanding of dietary habits, many seem to be blindly following myths introduced by the western culture

By Baishali Mukherjee

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If you're like most of us, you have grown up on sugary drinks, fried chips, noodles and the like. We're talking maida, corn, processed sugar, and oil. High-temperature food processing is another menace that is killing nutrients present in the food.

It is quite frightening to know that more and more youngsters are getting diagnosed with high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. People are too busy to eat right! In the era of fast food and instant gratification, health has taken a back seat - both mental and physical. Soon, we will have a whole generation of people who own great cars, phones and homes but lack the wellbeing to enjoy the lifestyle they have worked so hard to create.

Taking a cue from this alarming trend, new-age entrepreneurs are working towards changing the way India eats. Entrepreneur India got in touch with three feisty change makers who are creating a positive change.

Creating Products for Vegans and People Looking for Dairy-Free Options

Kinjal Darukhanawala, Founder and CEO of Wegan Foods feels, every body type is different and the correct food intake depends on activity level, schedule and geographic location. "I strongly believe that focus has to be whole and plant-based food for long-term sustenance and health goals," she asserted.

Darukhanawala is creating a range of products for vegans and people looking out for dairy-free options. Being a passionate vegan and health enthusiast herself, Darukhanawala realised that there are very few local vegan pantry staples available in India.

"A lot of people have preconceived notions about vegan food; they think it is boring, tasteless and far from original taste and flavour. Our brand plans to banish these notions and make the right products available to make healthy plant-based eating a reality for more and more families." She reiterated.

As a mother herself, Darukhanawala is aware of how picky kids can be about food. However, she insists that healthy food can be made delicious and soon healthy variants will be considered as the only form of consumable food.

Solving three Pronged Problems

'Health is for everyone and healthy food should not be a luxury' - with this zest, Nidhi Pant, founder, Desi V Desi, is striving to improve access to and affordability of healthy food and drink. Pant is combating unhealthy snacking patterns in kids and adults with a healthier alternative, minimizing financial losses for farmers by preventing farm produce and harvest wastage/spoilage, and empowering farmers to earn better revenue margins.

Wholesome and nutritious snacks and bites are essential to keep one energized and on the go - is what she vouches for. The idea that Pant is promoting is not about changing the habits, but giving people an alternate with fruits and vegetables as the base in formats that they like while consuming food. "With more transparency and letting people know what they consume, we are trying to provide people with better alternatives," she explained.

Pant is also addressing the critical issue of food wastage. Roughly about one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly US$ 680 billion in industrialized countries and US$ 310 billion in developing countries.

"Farm-level processing prevents food wastage. It is through altering post-harvest losses into products at the farm level, eliminating middlemen and giving voice to the farmer that our team members are instrumental in reducing wastage," she informed.

Busting an Age-Old Myth

Every year, new exotic foods make it into the list of Superfoods and last year, goat meat made the cut. In India, curried goat meat is a popular delicacy and it is eaten by 63% of the world's population. While goat cheese is a popular product across the globe, surprisingly enough, goat meat hasn't caught up in western countries like the UK and the US. However, with goat meat emerging as one of the trendiest food items in 2017, all that's about to change.

Rizwan Thakur, CEO & Founder, Chevon Agrotech Pvt. Ltd., is trying to fight the existing perception that goat meat is unhealthy red meat/ high protein that could trigger cholesterol or diabetes-related complications in consumers. Thakur is re-educating consumers via validations by doctors, nutritionists, and industry experts from health and wellness sector and through experiential marketing. He claims to have data and proven facts about the benefits of goat meat.

According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition report 2017, a 100-gram goat meat has 122 calories, less than pork's 179 and chicken's 162. It is a rich source of protein, iron, and Vitamin B12. Regular consumption helps enhance blood circulation and metabolism and is one of the best sources of nutrition for pregnant women as it helps produce more red blood cells, prevents anaemia, increases haemoglobin count and improves blood circulation. The iron content in it augments brain development in children. Moreover, it contains minerals and acids that prevent cancer, coronary heart disease and control blood pressure.

Though Indian consumers know about food habits due to the country's strong heritage and culture, many seem to be blindly following myths introduced by advisories from western culture. "We are trying to explain that 'mutton' in the western advisory of 'mutton has high cholesterol & fat' is meant for sheep and not goat. Numerous Indian heart and cholesterol patients have jumped from the frying pan to the fire by following this western advisory," rued Thakur, who does not intend to promote meat eating but only offer the best meat option to all the consumers.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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