April 18, 2024, Thursday
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Enjoy vegan foods in Nepal, it is easy to find

Kathmandu Vegan Festival 2024 on 2nd March

The Nepal Weekly
February 27, 2024

A vegan diet includes only plant foods – fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. People who follow a vegan diet don’t eat any animal foods, including dairy, eggs, and honey.

It’s easy to confuse veganism and vegetarianism. They’re quite similar. But a vegan diet is stricter than a vegetarian diet. Vegetarians don’t eat the flesh of animals, such as meat, poultry, and fish, but they often eat dairy and eggs. Vegans don’t eat any animal foods. This even includes foods that are produced by animals, such as honey.

Dietary vegans follow a vegan diet specifically for health benefits. For others, veganism is a way of life focused on protecting animals and the environment. Ethical vegans avoid harming animals by not eating any animal or animal-derived foods. They also avoid using materials that originate from animals, such as wool and leather, and they don’t use products that have been tested on animals. Environmental welfare is also a concern to many vegans. Research shows that a vegan diet has much less impact on Earth’s climate than one that includes animal products.

Veganism is a fantastic way to learn more about nutrition and cooking while also improving your diet. A vegan diet consists solely of plant-based meals. All animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs, are avoided by those who follow this diet. Honey is also avoided by some individuals. 

Veganism is a nutritional choice for some, but it is also a lifestyle decision for others.

Plant-based nutrition frees up more space in your diet for health-promoting foods like whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which are high in essential fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Luckily, vegan travelers will find that Nepal has plenty of animal-free delicacies, along with a number of dishes that can easily be modified as per your convenience. Many Nepali people eat meat, but vegetarianism/veganism has long been a familiar concept given Nepal’s large Hindu population and cross-cultural culinary influence. 

There are several restaurants in Nepal that serve vegan and vegetarian food. You can walk through the bustling streets of Thamel to find Nepali and continental vegan food options. If you are feeling a little fancier, you can visit Durbarmarg, Lazimpath, or Gairidhara to explore more exotic options. Additionally, if you are looking for an authentic Nepali food experience, eating a vegetarian Thakali plate is the ideal option since you can find it anywhere in the country. There are several vegan restaurants in Jhamsikhel, Kathmandu, and Lakeside, Pokhara, where you will find nutritious vegan food in an optimal price range. 

Lastly, veganism is not a new concept in Nepal due to not only religious factors but also because people are rapidly changing their food habits in order to live sustainably. There are numerous Nepali dishes completely devoid of animal products, and Nepalese cuisine has a lot to offer for vegans and vegetarians.

Here are some examples of vegan Nepalese foods:

n Dal, bhaat, tarkaari or lentil soup, rice, and vegetable curry are the staple of Nepalese cuisine. 

n Green leafy vegetables like mustard greens, spinach, amaranth, bok choy, and the tender edible leaves and stems of seasonal vegetables (pumpkin, chayote, etc.) are fried or blanched with aromatic spices and herbs. 

n Protein-rich broth made from pulses like kidney beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, etc., are quite popular and relished with gusto. 

n Nepalese traditional cuisine has several dishes prepared from vegetables like potatoes, eggplant, French beans, cabbage, cauliflower, bitter gourd, okra, taro leaves, pumpkin, etc. 

n Prickly nettle leaves which are found widely all over the Himalayas are picked and cooked with herbs. Nettle soup is in fact a rare Himalayan delicacy. 

n According to HappyCow, there are only three totally vegan restaurants in the whole of Nepal – two in capital Kathmandu and one in Patan (Lalitpur). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean though that there aren’t other vegan restaurants in Nepal, just that they haven’t been listed on HappyCow yet.

n When it comes to vegetarianism, there are more options – there are over 100 vegetarian restaurants in Nepal. On the one hand, this doesn’t mean much – we can’t go into a vegetarian restaurant and order blind, like we can in vegan restaurants; but on the other hand, at least we are only dodging dairy and eggs, not meat.

n As to other restaurants, most restaurants in Nepal offer a separate list of items for vegetarians on their menu. If you are up for a hearty meal, you can order a ‘vegetarian thali’ which includes a plate of boiled white rice, lentil soup, vegetable curry, poppadum, or crackers, and a little bit of spicy pickle or salsa on the side. Yogurt is also offered, which you may refuse. 

n If you aren’t into carbs, you can forego the rice and choose a flatbread (chappati or naan) instead. Vegetable noodles and dumplings (momos) are also quite popular choices. In big cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara, bakeries and restaurants are offering vegan delicacies.

At stores in Nepal, you can shop for dried fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, trail mix, oats, and fresh fruits. Most departmental stores stock up on soy milk and almond milk, a much-needed vegan item. If you are staying at a place where you can prepare your food, you can purchase fresh vegetables and other vegan items from the supermarket or the local bazaar and prepare your favourite vegan meal.

Notably, Sneha’s Care, a non-government organisationengaged in animal welfare works and has been doing various works in the field of animal welfare for the past eight yearsis organizing the Kathmandu Vegan Festival 2024 on March 2 in the courtyard of Utpala Cafe located in Bauddha, Kathmandu. The Kathmandu Vegan Festival aims to bring together individuals, businesses, and communities to explore the diverse aspects of veganism.

The purpose of this event is to promote plant-based dishes and also to promote the vegan lifestyle. In this festival, the organization has arranged to place stalls for vegan restaurants and vendors of vegan products to exhibit plant-based food dishes and materials for distribution and sale. (By Ram Dangol)