Much before Veganism announced its victory over the all-things-vegetarian diet, India primarily was always a vegetarian dominated country. While the western countries name it vegan, India had sattvic diets in place already. But what has seen a sudden jump is the rise of sattvic restaurants in India. In this system of dietary classification, foods that decrease the energy of the body are considered tamasic, while those that increase the energy of the body are considered rajasic. A sattvic diet is sometimes referred to as a yogic diet in modern literature. With millennials moving towards more health consciousness and leaning towards Ayurvedic practices, many have adopted the sattvic way of eating. Restaurants on the other hand are seen taping on this opportunity.
Recently in Mumbai, G.O.D Cafe by Harrit Dairy Farm was launched that serves sattvic meals and is the first of its kind A2 Milk Café. Sheetal Bhatt, the founder feels that India's health has suffered greatly in this era of fast food and packaged meals, as well as the influence of western eating culture.
“Observing the changing lifestyle, people have begun to adapt or heritage the Ayurvedic lifestyle and sattvic diet. Since the 2.0 lockdown lift, this has worked in our favour as we are achieving our goal of spreading the uniqueness of sattvic food with the growing home chefs as well as increasing sattvic and ayurvedic restaurants/cafés,” she said.
Vegetarianism is an all time high
Apart from the health factor, the Covid-19 scenario has also pushed people to think towards vegetarianism. As soon as the first few people tested positive for Covid-19 in India, #NoMeatNoCoronavirus started trending on Twitter. Rumours started doing the rounds on how vegetarians don’t get infected.
Coronavirus will change a lot of things. Once the pandemic is over, nothing is going to be the same, including our food habits. Scientists say it is likely that the coronavirus came from bats. Although food safety experts have clarified that the coronavirus is not caused by eating meat, the way this virus has shaken our world, it is not easy to convince people.
However, turning vegetarian is a good practice, as suggested by many nutritionists. Vegetarianism is economical, environment-friendly and against cruelty to animals. Also, the rise in antibiotics in animal husbandry has raised many life-threatening questions. Topping it all, the current political sentiments of the country have led many minds to go back to the Ayurvedic lifestyle promoting a sattvic diet.
Can vegetarian food be gourmet?
Ritika Arora, Director, Sattvik Restaurant comments that earlier, the perception of people was only limited that having a gourmet dining experience only involves either having non-vegetarian dishes or any other continental or Italian dishes except Indian vegetarian dishes. “Appreciatively, a few Indian restaurants have come up with vegetarian dishes, preparing and presenting them with a gourmet touch,” she added.
India is witnessing a major change in the new adapting cultures to the new rising restaurants. Food in India has evolved a lot in the last two to three years, from people looking at foreign brands for inspiration to more and more people adopting natural eating and Sattvic vegetarian food. “Gourmet meals are nothing more than a cultural ideal related with the arts of great food and drink, and they are distinguished by polished, detailed preparations and presentations of artistically balanced meals. It is typically served in smaller, more expensive servings,” Bhatt said.
The combination of the two cultures will result in a balanced, nutritious, and pure supper. As it is, substituting locally sourced food is always more healthful for the body. There is an added benefit in recipes that include fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs that can help the body cope with seasonal changes. “Local and seasonal foods are the ideal approach to adopt a healthy lifestyle, build immunity, and offer them in a healthy and elegant manner,” Bhatt further feels.
At Sattvam in Bangalore, guests usually tend to be surprised to know all the dishes made are without onion and garlic including a few of their Chinese bestsellers. Chef Aditya who heads the kitchen said that many people have misconceptions about sattvic food. “They think it’s raw food and served on banana leaves. But the actual principles of sattvic cooking is different. It should be consumed within four hours of cooking and hence, we make fresh food throughout. There are specific ways, and styles of cooking we follow,” he says.
India has over 40 percent vegetarian population and the trend is increasing rapidly. But despite this, when it comes to eating out, non-vegetarians always tend to have more options. Not just the rise of sattvic restaurants in India are offering new palate altogether but also breaking the myth of sattvic food being boring and bland.