Veganism, as a movement, has garnered popularity over the recent years. The term ‘vegan’, alien to many a decade ago, has now found its way into the mainstream narrative around food, health and sustainability as a predominant thread that pulls these three domains together. Be it Netflix documentaries like The Game Changers, setting ablaze in-depth discussions on the power (or lack thereof) of a plant-based diet, or hashtag movements like #veganuary, there has been an influx of discourse, urging people to adopt a more conscious approach to clean eating.
Even though there’s evidence of a plethora of health benefits offered by a plant-based diet, what if there was another dimension to this spectrum of clean eating? Through her latest ‘no-cookbook’ Being Rawesomely Vegan, vegan dessert connoisseur-turned-author Dimple Khitri has taken veganism a notch higher through her fuss-free plant-based recipes, using whole and unrefined foods in their natural, raw state.
After 15 years of being a vegetarian, Khitri adopted veganism five years ago and refers to her book as an extension of her fulfilling journey. “I am not just vegan but 70 per cent raw vegan — and I can only see the benefits — I feel emotionally more at equilibrium, active physically, clearer mentally and, most importantly, elevated spiritually,” said Khitri. “I felt groggy and lethargic and was looking for ways to detoxify. So, I decided to add more raw foods to my diet. While I was at it, I started writing down all the recipes that worked for me and tasted amazing. So, that’s how Being Rawesomely Vegan was conceived,” she added.
With over 40 delicious and easy-to-follow recipes, the recipe book comprises a wide variety of options for every meal of the day. Defining the title of her book, the author added, “Being Rawesomely Vegan to me means cherishing raw food that tastes awesome just the way it is! Raw food in its natural form is the way the planet created it for us to consume. I believe that raw food has the power to heal the body, mind and soul.”
The vegan dessert chef, who’s a third generation Indian born and raised in the UAE, finds great joy in creating wholesome, nutritious recipes that are also gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, food colour-free and — in most recipes — nut-free! While it may seem daunting to make the complete switch, the Dubai-based restaurateur believes that it’s more important to take little, more sustainable steps. “I do feel gluten is not meant for the human body, but since we are so used to it, the best thing to do is to consume gluten in moderation. It is definitely crucial to avoid refined sugar. In fact, natural sweeteners like dates, raisins, jaggery do amazingly well in so many recipes, whether they are desserts or otherwise,” Khitri said.
Being a chocoholic and cheese-lover from childhood, Khitri wasn’t expected by her family to make a move to veganism, given her love for desserts. “I think for someone like me to turn vegan is astounding. I didn’t decide to turn vegan all of a sudden, it was a gradual process. I watched a documentary, Earthlings, around seven years ago that shifted my mindset,” she revealed.
Following her encounter with the documentary, Khitri recounted an onset of recurrent guilt while consuming dairy products, in the form of chocolate, tea or coffee, which led her to take the plunge. “Every time I picked up an ice cream or chocolate, I would immediately get a flashback of the movie. Every bite I took of the chocolate made me feel guilty for the sheer torture animals have to go through,” the vegan chef mentioned.
Striking a chord of consciousness within her, this fuelled Khitri’s passion for creating “guilt-free”, plant-based desserts that would satisfy her sweet cravings without leaving her with an overriding sense of guilt. “When I decided on this slogan, I truly meant “guilt-free” to represent “cruelty-free”. I could finally enjoy and satisfy my taste buds without feeling guilty of hurting any living being,” added the restaurateur who also owns a vegan dessert shop Being Vegan.
Through the ‘no-cook’ book, the restaurateur also hopes to convince people that it is possible — and easy — to lead a raw vegan lifestyle, bringing an otherwise far-fetched concept right into our kitchens. “I’ve made my non-vegan friends and family try the [plant-based] cheese, and no one even believes it’s vegan, telling me how good it tastes and that they’ll easily opt for it over the non-vegan nacho cheese dip,” Khitri mentioned.
“It’s true when they say ‘you are what you eat’. You truly are in tune with your true self when you consume more of a raw diet,” added the Dubai-based restaurateur, who reckons that her eating tips will enable people to deep clean every aspect of their lives. “Just like with anything new, you have to try it out to experience it,” the vegan dessert chef signed off.
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