24June2019

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

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Be the Vegan Entrepreneur

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

This is my third article on the subject of business opportunities for vegans. The first two were about creating and marketing products and some services. This is about vegan hotels and retreats.

Bed and Broccoli - www.bedandbroccoli.com.au is a Vegan Bed & Breakfast in Australia. It offers vegan food, sauces, jams, preserves and chutneys, soaps, vegan cleaning products, and they are animal friendly. In fact they rescue abandoned animals themselves and all customers have the added experience of friendly dogs and cats. The owner explains that “Being vegan and unable to find vegan accommodation is what inspired Bed and Broccoli to open for business.”

There are thousands of such small hotels across the world. There is a site for vegetarian hotels which was started by two Germans, to which I have recommended a truly beautiful Tibetan, one called Norbulinka where I stayed some years ago. I googled vegan hotels just now and got 12.40 crore results. Right on top is veganhotels.com and they are advertising the most exciting places, in areas where you believe they would only have seafood –atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives. Their food menu is delicious – enough to convert any carnivore! When you start one in India make sure you register it on their site.

You could also make a vegan nature retreat and offer not just a healthy way of eating, but workshops, meditation, fitness centres and spas, walks. You could sell oils, products not tested on animals, and food from there as well. No milk in any form, because then it is not vegan. You could even make it solar powered.

If you are vegan, you could offer your own rooms to just vegan travellers under the Airbnb scheme. It would be a relief to travellers not to worry about what they are getting fed in a homestay.

Another way to earn money is to hold vegan camps for children in the summer and winter holidays. The camps can be for two days, or a week, depending on the activities lined up. Mountaineering, trekking, walks even in the city. But, apart from their activities and the vegan food, it would do two things : it would allow vegan children to get to know each other and it would teach the science behind conscious living. Educational teaching with films on food choices, how to live healthily and how to respect the rest of the world, could make for a more thoughtful  child and gentler human society. KidsMakeaDifference.org and VeganCamp.org are two sites that might help you structure such a programme. Abroad, these camps have resulted in hundreds of children becoming vegan.

Youth Empowered Action Camp - www.yeacamp.org - is a summer camp for youth 12-17 who want to make a difference in the world. YEA trains young activists and builds knowledge, skills, confidence and community with youth change-makers. YEA Camp serves all-vegan food, although being vegan is not a requirement to come to the camp. While this is an American organisation, I see no reason why an Indian one cannot be started.

Evolotus PR was created to serve socially beneficial clients, such as nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, books, health/wellness and vegan products. Their mission is to help like-minded organizations and businesses tell their story and gain visibility to create a better, more sustainable and peaceful world. The owners explain “Getting media attention for these issues is a form of activism for us.”

Sweta Thakur  started a  public relations company, called the Graffiti Collaborative, in Bangalore. After making a success of it she realized that her heart was not in doodles and jingles for products and would-be stars, and more in changing the way we live. So she became vegan and oriented her agency to promote vegan companies and products. She came to see me some months ago and  this resulted in my ministry adding vegan shops to our national organic mela. Now she has a permanent vegan mela, called Wilderfest, which had its first opening in Bangalore and then at Selectcity Mall in Delhi with hundreds of products. Apart from that they do public relations for animal groups, documentary film festivals. It is possible to do what you believe. Unhappiness comes when you separate yourself from what you do : Jains selling gelatine for instance.

Vegan Edge Consulting - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - operates worldwide and is a Business Development & Marketing agency working exclusively with vegan businesses & entrepreneurs. They offer Strategy & Planning, Branding & Marketing, Web Development & Graphic Design services. They also run several Vegan Facebook pages: Vegan Business Guide, Toronto Vegan Guide. Become A Vegan, and Vegan Maven. Why can’t a regular financial service in India start a wing like this?

Or, if you have money, and want to change the world, why not start a cruelty free angel investor fund. Or an ethical investor fund in which you tell your investors that you will only invest in companies that are environmentally sustainable and vegan. Cruelty Free Super is an Australian Superfund  and it is promoted through social media. It’s a vegan-friendly Superfund, investing in line with cruelty free principles. Lee Coates OBE, founded Ethical Money Pty Ltd in 2010. This innovative vegan business takes cruelty free principles to the heart of the animal unfriendly financial system.

This might be a doable idea – but with very little money to be earned. Start a Vegan Professionals Facebook group.

The idea that I like best – it appeals to the curious, searching-for-magic, part of me. Start a company called The Magic Vegan and people become members for mystery boxes. Every month I will get, as a member, a box full of amazing vegan products, from foods to creams to clothes and footwear, to whatever you can think of – from games to dyes, seeds, even coupons from vegan hotels. And the addresses of the companies would be given, so that if I liked the product I could buy directly from them. You would buy the products from them wholesale and retail them to me at the price you charge for the monthly membership.  If the idea worked, I could gift the TMV membership as birthday and wedding presents. Please somebody quickly start this!

As a vegan entrepreneur you can be bold, sophisticated and yet harm no one. You can use the beauty and bounty of the earth and leave it better for both animals and humans. Vegans commit themselves to learning , education, service to the community, fair trade, empathy and love – while making money. What more could you want? 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Somewhat Like Humans

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

We are just so lucky that the 13,000 species of ants, discovered till now, are small. Even if they were the size of cats, they would be the rulers of the universe by now, would have discovered ways to reach Mars, and colonise the moon, would have solved any mathematical or gravitational problems, would have built weapons without metal. They would have sailed the oceans and destroyed as many other species as possible. They would be in constant warfare, but their wars would not destroy the land around them, or foul the air and water.

I simply love ants. I find them exactly like human beings, little mini-mes. with all our awful instincts and yet deadly precision and efficiency with no waste.

I could go on forever about them, because I learn more every day. We have everything in common. They fight all the time as well. Like people, ants have often fought over food and territory. But ants began fighting with each other, or other nests of their own species, or other species, long before humans: at least 99 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth, according to a fossil insect experts in the Department of Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-Newark published online in the journal Current Biology. Ants have been trapped in ancient Burmese amber while fighting to the death. These “hell ants” had mammoth like tusk-jaws which were used to impale prey - which, fortunately, modern ants don’t have. In Mark Moffett's Book, Adventures Among Ants, he writes about the territorial disputes between two huge colonies of Argentine ants in California. Along the front line literally millions of ants die every month in what is a never-ending struggle. Sounds like India and Pakistan. Even Charles Darwin wrote about human like conflicts between ants.

Here are some similarities:

* The Florida ant (Formica archboldi) decorates its nest with the skulls of its enemies, the trap jaw ants. But trap jaw ants are bigger, have stingers and mouths that close like bear-traps and have a special feature - they can catapult to freedom when attacked. How does the much smaller archboldi do it ?

A study published in the journal Insectes Sociaux reveals that F. archboldi possesses acid spraying nozzles (like machine guns)  and attacks its quarry with quick sprays of toxic acid. They cut off the heads of their victims and take them back as trophies. But first they hide themselves within the trapdoor ants by producing a waxy layer of scent that matches the smell of the trap door ant perfectly! Chemical cues are vital to ants. While ants have eyes, they rely on scents to  follow their nest mates to food, identify friend from foe.

* However, archboldi ants have their own problems. Polyergus ants kidnap and brainwash entire colonies of F. archboldi. In fact, they are known as pirate /kidnapper ants and their modus operandi is as follows : The kidnapper ant queen identifies an archboldi ant colony. She sneaks in, murders the queen, and then bathes in her blood. She takes her place, using this newly acquired scent to avoid detection and pumps out a bunch of eggs inside the archboldi nest. These hatch into polyergus workers who capture the rest of the nest.

* Researchers have documented the first known instance of insects moving prey by forming chains. Bluish Leptogenys ants drag huge millipedes in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia. Each ant bites on a constriction on the abdomen of the ant ahead of it, while the first ant bites tight on the millipede's antenna. Walking backwards, the ants heave the millipede away. Other ants form chains too. Weaver ants and army ants build chains to sew nests and cross waters respectively. But the Leptogenys ants are the first insects known to move prey by making long chains. Some ants walk ahead of the chains clearing the path.

* The big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) colonies have soldier ants with disproportionately large heads and giant jaws which they use to attack other ants and cut up prey. According to the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, big-headed ant soldiers grow larger when they encounter other ants that know how to fight back.

Big-headed ants are world travellers, hitching rides with humans to get around. Their arrival at a warm destination spells almost certain doom for native ants, spiders, beetles and other invertebrates.

Big-headed ants spread out, assembling multiple nests that cooperate on defence, reproduction, territorial expansion and food procurement. If their prey are not aggressive the ants remain the same size. But if they encounter competitors in the local area they can grow to three times their size. Genetic analysis shows that the size variation is not the result of long-term evolutionary change. It is simply a uniquely quick response (within 60 days) to a new environment.

* Trap jaw ants train to fight by holding antenna boxing bouts. These bouts also establish levels of dominance within the nest. Ants have a hierarchy of roles within the colony. Trap-jaw ant species engage in antennal "boxing," a quick fight involving striking one another with their antennae, to determine which of the worker ants stay in the nest and which go out to forage. Entomologists at the University of Illinois, whose findings are in the journal Insectes Sociaux,  counted how rapidly four species pummelled their opponents during antenna-boxing bouts. The speeds ranged from 19.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus rixosus, from Cambodia, to a blazing-fast 41.5 strikes per second for Odontomachus brunneus, of Florida. Trap-jaw ants are the fastest boxers ever recorded.

* Terrorists and Colbopsis Explodens ants from Borneo have the same suicidal strategies, according to the study published in the journal ZooKeys. When confronted by another insect, the ants actively burst their body walls and release a sticky, toxic substance that can repulse or even kill the enemy. The workers die in the attack as well.

* Army ants send out a huge raiding party that sweeps through the forest. If they find the swarm raid of another army ant nest they either ignore each other: the two huge swarm parties pass through each other almost as if the other did not exist. Or both colonies retreat in opposite directions, away from each other. But if they find another species of ants, like Leafcutter ants, they attack, even if it is very large colony. Soldiers of both species line up and engage in absolutely cataclysmic battles that go on for days before the army ants finally break through the defence and go down to the leaf-cutter nest and pillage the brood.

When army ants arrive the prey ant colony evacuates the nest. What they usually do is, they grab the babies and run out to a distance. There they stand and wait. After the army ants depart, the prey ants go back to the nest.

* Wars need backups in the form of medics to save the wounded. Megaponera analis, a small black ant species native to sub-Saharan Africa, wages war on termite nests. Attacking ants can have limbs ripped off by termites. Instead of leaving the hurt ants behind, other ants will carry them back home where they can heal and participate again in future raids. Once back at the nest, healthy ants attend to the wounded, licking their injuries for minutes at a time. This strikingly unusual behaviour raises the survival rate for injured ants from a mere 20 percent to 90 percent, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. M. analis colonies aren't that large, and only a dozen or so baby ants are born each day. Losing one or two ants each day would be quite significant, so they find ways to reduce the mortality.

* In the United States, the South American fire ant armies are being beaten back by the armies of a new invader – the tawny Crazy Ant. In the journal Science, entomologists at the University of Texas explain why the smaller tawny crazy ants are winning.

Fire ants spew extremely toxic venom at other ants. Most ants just die. But the Crazy ants charge into the fray. The key to their success is their chemical defences. Once an ant is sprayed, it retreats from the battle and applies its own caustic venom, which acts like a healing salve, neutralizing the effect of the fire ant's toxic ammunition. And then they run back into the fight. This tactic is so effective that the fire ant populations are dying out.

Ants tend to separate the world in a rather simple way, into two classes: colony members and everybody else. Somewhat like humans.

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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Ideas to Earn Money and Change the World

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

There are so many opportunities for vegans now. All you need is perseverance and courage – but you need that for any business. Here are some more ideas of how to earn money and change the world:

You don’t have to sacrifice fashion for a more compassionate lifestyle. You can have both! Many high fashion elegant products are made from recycled polyester. Cruelty-free shoes, belts and wallets are sold in thousands of on and off line shops now, using only non-animal materials that are environmentally friendly - plant-based or man-made materials such as ultra suede, organic cotton, canvas, nylon, velvet, linen. Even the shoe glue has not been tested on animals, nor made of them.

You could start a weekly organic market. People for Animals did that for a little while and did very well. Now Delhi has three weekly organic markets and they sell everything from seeds, plants, vegetables and salads to oils and cheeses. You could add vegan cookbooks, vinegars and sauces, teas, pottery, perfume, soap, skincare, hair products, and have a vegan deli.  One day it will become a permanent market with an allotted space from the government, like the flower market. Sydney has a vegan festival every year and it is big, with people taking part from all over Australia (www.crueltyfreefestival.org.au.) You could have it annually and call it the Cruelty Free Festival.

I need to shop at a vegan bakery, confectionery, and chocolatier; offering vegan sweets of every kind, including baked goods, chocolate truffles, fudge, caramels, toffee, brittle, peanut butter cups, marshmallows, peppermint crèmes, patties, brownies, toffee, cakes, cookies, meringues, muffins, donuts, cupcakes. Croissants, cheesecakes, marmalades and chutneys and elegant gift baskets. Vegan and gluten free works for me - ethical decadence! A sweet treat with no chemicals, no genetically modified organisms, and no animal products. But in order to do this, you need to source your ingredients responsibly and check every supplier thoroughly. Instead of palm oil use coconut and cocoa butter. For sweetener, use evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, and pure maple sugar. Don’t forget the smoothies and fresh organic juices. And certify everything Non GMO.

You could have a niche shop that  just sells oils, milk and butter : olive oil, yerba mate, coconut, flax, chia, hemp and black sesame oils, cashew and shea butter, almond oil and milk, agave nectar, flax-milk, organic whole grain rice-milk, maple syrup, molasses, organic coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol, good sunflower oil. Add animal rights shirts, buttons. Enhance health through nutrition.

Surprise people by offering them a wide range of mock meats and cheeses: Chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, kebabs, steaks, burgers, mince pies, bacon, nuggets, sausages, mutton curries, fish fillets, chicken pot pie, French toast. Vegan cheese alternatives are sold online: Hazelnut-based Smoked Gouda, Chipotle Cheddar and Monterey Jack, Soy-based Feta Crumbles, Cashew-based Chia Cheese Sauce. This kind of food turns a lot of people, who are making a transition, into vegans. There are mock meats (like FRY) which are free from meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, cholesterol, hydrogenated fats, GM ingredients, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

If you have a café, be careful to use no plastic. Use unbleached, 100% cotton cloths for napkins. This eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, such as bleach, which is used in common laundering practices. Compost your scraps, or give them to animal shelters. Do not buy bone china. Wash the dishes with the most environmentally-friendly products. Print your books, labels, and menus on recycled paper with soy based ink. Use the waste vegetable oil to power your car, so you never have to buy petrol.

If I knew a shop with just vegan alcohols - beer and wine, that is what I would gift drinkers. Most commercial wines use fish, or farm animal products, to process the grapes - shrimp shells, bovine tissue (like hooves), eggs, dairy, sturgeon bladders called isinglass. However, smaller wineries can be vegan. You need to look on the Net and order from them.

You could make one product from your home and advertise it : peanut butter without palm oil and preservatives, for example, or energy bars made with dried fruit, nuts and spices. The Vegg LLC (www.thevegg.com) is a manufacturer and wholesaler of a powdered vegan egg yolk, sold online. It’s a one person business owned by Rocky Shepherd. who invented the world’s first vegan egg yolk! You could get in touch with him and offer that to confectionaries.

Start a vegan cosmetics and skin care shop. Vegan cosmetics, plant derived with no animal oils, gelatine or bones in them, are in any case better for the face. Companies abroad sell cosmetic liquid and powder foundations, eye shadows, blushers, concealers, bronzers, lipsticks, lip balms and mascara. Not tested on animals, cruelty-free and harmful chemical-free products, they replace even beeswax with natural oils such as organic Jojoba oil. In order to do away with preservatives, local products are used. 100% natural  skin care products can be made without alcohol, parabens, fragrance, wax, dyes, toxic contaminants, sodium lauryl or laurethsulphate, petrochemicals, artificial colorants and perfumes, glycols, synthetic preservatives or additives, bulking agents, or hidden ingredients of any kind! Most soaps are made with animal fat. Palm oil is actually a drying agent and it doesn’t hydrate or help the skin. But commercial manufacturers use it because it is cheap. Likewise, shellac and lanolin are common ingredients which are no good for the skin but are commonly found, as they can be preserved for a long time. Vegan soaps use vegetable oil and natural fragrances, and handcraft each soap. These would be allergen free. So would shampoos, conditioners, liquid hand soaps, bar soaps, bath and shower gels, and body lotions.

It bothers me that we should feed one animal to another. So, don’t forget vegan pet food and supplements for cats and dogs. They exist. We just have to get them into India, or make them ourselves. Cats need taurine if they are to be vegan. But normal taurine is made from cow bile and that brings us back to square one. However it is possible to make synthetic taurine.

Since I became minister we use Gaunyle in the ministry. It has a very pleasant smell and does a good cleaning job . It is vegan and its base ingredient is cow urine, which is a disinfectant. It is possible to have dishwashing liquid, powdered and liquid laundry detergents, and all-purpose spray cleaner without harsh chemicals that have been tested on animals. There is a company, called Planet Inc., which develops and sells environmentally-friendly products which are plant based, hypoallergenic, and clean well. They are 100% biodegradable. Their certification requires three things: First, each ingredient must break down into basic minerals, carbon dioxide, and water, and a minimum of 70% of it must degrade within 28 days. Second, each ingredient must be able to degrade, even in worst-case conditions (for example, without oxygen). Third, no ingredient may harm aquatic life while it is degrading. 

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www. peopleforanimalsindia.org

  • Written by Denis Giles
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