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If you have been curious about (or even a staunch follower) of veganism – which has increasingly been gaining popularity in recent times – seeking gastronomic options to fit the mould may admittedly be a bit of a task. However, the diet is slowly but surely paving its way into Pune’s culinary landscape. A few establishments in the city have now gone vegan-friendly, offering delicious, cruelty-free meals to their vegan clientele and while it is far from being all the rage yet, it is a pretty good start.
Urbounce Café in Baner, for instance, is the perfect riposte to anyone disingenuous enough to be dismissive of vegan food as being bland and unexciting. The eatery’s unique location in front of a gym is also perhaps indicative of the clean and wholesome fare it dishes out – the menu being full of healthy options that are also agreeable for the palate. Try the five-element oriental bowl with brown rice, wheat noodles, veggies and roasted nut with a coconut milk-based gravy or the orange-broccoli-onion salad, and wash it down with a glass of some fresh watermelon-ginger juice – just the right combined dose of nutrition and flavour!
It is clearly places focusing on organic, healthy food in the city that are also promoting veganism as a result. Case in point: the open-air café Yogi Tree in Koregaon Park, that does an interesting tempeh (soybean cake) steak, a brown rice salad with olives and tofu and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and even a spicy soya biryani and soya kheema for vegans with a desi palate. The gluten-free quinoa salad (with crisp baby spinach leaves, shallots, radish chips, walnuts, pomegranate seeds to lend a citrusy crunch, and a trickle of sweet honey) at Minus 18 Degrees also happens to be vegan – a substantial bowlful.
It was quite a delight to discover that one of Pune’s oldest and beloved cafés, the vintage Marz-O-Rin has also gotten onto the veganism bandwagon. Set inside a 100-year-old heritage British era building, it dishes out a bunch of scrumptious vegan snacks, such as a multigrain tofu roll, vegan pastas and sandwiches and even vegan sweetmeats like macaroons and muffins that go really well with the soy, rose or mango milk. They have diligently marked every vegan item on the menu in green and also serve special vegan-friendly mayonnaise.
Pagdandi Books Chai Café conscientiously offers a soy milk option for all their coffees and milkshakes. Interestingly, even a chain brand like Café Coffee Day has a nutritious vegan shake on its menu. The most exciting news for the city’s vegan population, however, was the launch of The Real Green Café in the bustling Phoenix mall – Pune’s first exclusively vegan restaurant, featuring an excellent spread of vegan frankies, momos and sandwiches. All their milk-based products are made in soya, almond or cashew milk. Fancy a vegan ice cream sundae, anyone?
Follow Mrunmayi @moonogamy