From being a teenager who was unaware of the horrors behind animal products, to a young adult who is striving for animal rights, Abhay Rangan has come a long way. With his vegan startup, Veganarke, he is providing cruelty-free alternatives to dairy products.
Ice creams, curd, milk and meat have become part of our food cycle, and with an ever-increasing number of players in the dairy sector, cruelty against animals often goes unheard. Few are aware of these cruelties and even fewer are willing to raise their voice against them. Nevertheless, Abhay Rangan (20), an engineering student, has been fighting against animal abuse through his vegan initiative.
Journey towards being vegan
Abhay’s parents, seven years ago on their anniversary, decided to turn vegan. There began his family's journey as supporters of animal rights which motivated Abhay to learn and understand the importance of veganism. On January 1, 2011, he and his sister decided to turn vegan like their parents. His family hasn't looked back since then.
“Animal abuse will be a thing of the past when everyone who claims to be against it steps up and takes action. There are so many things one can do, such as getting involved with the local animal rights community, volunteering at shelters, starting your own venture — there’s a hundred things you could do to contribute,” says Abhay.
A non-profit and a startup
“My work with SARV helped me gain a good understanding of how to build communities, fundraise, manage people, organise, and speak confidently in public — all of which have proven to be of immense help with Veganarke. Our challenges with SARV were mainly around sustainability and scale. We’ve learnt our lessons, and hopefully, we can apply them well to making plant-based dairy happen.”
He observed that each time SARV campaigned to stop financing animal abusers through the sale of animal products, they faced a very common dilemma — there weren’t many alternatives out there, and those that were available were too expensive. Thus, Veganarke, his vegan startup, was born out of the need to explore more ways to make vegan products less expensive and easily available. It currently manufactures highly affordable, nutrient-rich, plant-based dairy alternatives such as peanut curd and almond milk, which can be ordered through their website. With unwavering support from Abhay’s mother — who manufactures the products — Veganarke now home delivers its products all over Bengaluru. At present, it is bootstrapped and Abhay and his mother have hired people for delivery. Their plan is to eventually expand to more than just vegan milk and curd and compete with dairy in the long run. “facing a few months ago. I look forward to the ones we will face in the future,” says Abhay.
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Anupama Srini, a consumer of Veganarke’s products, says, “The curd and almond milk from Veganarke is tasty, healthy, and wholesome. They have put so much thought and know-how into the curd-making process, right from the soaking of peanuts. The thick curd is great for making lassis or smoothies and no one questioned if it was dairy-free when served to guests. Chaat varieties like dahi puri came out very well with the thick curd. This kind of pure almond milk is difficult to get and is perfect for all baking needs. Moreover, this is prepared with so much love for the consumers and the environment.”
His contribution to the animal rights movement earned him the Vegan of the Year award from the Indian Vegan Society and PETA’s Outstanding Activist of the year, both in 2014. In December 2016, Abhay spoke about the future of plant-based food at TedxYouth, Brookefield. Abhay is a Stanford University Innovation Fellow and works for invigorating the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in his college, CMR Institute of Technology. As of today, he has lectured about animal rights, plant-based food and veganism in more than 10 cities in two countries — India and the US. He also pursues Carnatic music and has been training for more than 15 years and performs regularly at concerts.
Abhay aims to ensure that plant-based products are accessible to everyone. “We are serious about competing with dairy. We don’t view vegan food as just another means of making money because it’s a niche market — we view it as the inevitable future of food. We’re in this for protecting animal rights and have been incredibly lucky to have an amazing ecosystem of customers and mentors."
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