While the world’s unsustainability quotient rises to its brim by the ones who continue to add to the damage, there are those who strive and live by the essence of hope in trying to make this world a better place by living a cruelty-free, plant-based lifestyle.
We had the opportunity to interview Divya Maben, a content creator, podcast host, and co-founder of What’s Vegan. She is someone who leads by example in championing sustainability and the plant-based movement, one who has grown to be a force in the field of trending cruelty-free fashion and plant-based living.
Divya shares her thoughts with us on food, sustainable fashion, and how a plant-based way of life has given her a new vantage point in the world we live in.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your story.
I’m Divya Maben, the co-founder of Now Media, a branding agency in Bangalore and a content creator. After completing my MBA in the UK, my passion for fashion took me back to London to study styling. Unlike most people who study abroad and settle there, I had my mind set on coming back home. I wanted to fill the gap I saw in the market here by dwelling into content and styling. My entrepreneurial drive pushed me to start Now Media with my husband a couple of years back. During all this, on the personal front, I was becoming a lot more aware of how cruel the meat and dairy industry was and it sparked my journey towards being plant-based.
Could you give us a brief insight to your career and how fashion became a pivotal factor in your life?
I have a beautiful mother who is the most confident woman I know. She always loved fashion and jewellery I think it just imprinted on me without me even realizing it. My family believed I had a natural flair for it and they were the ones who encouraged me to pursue styling. Their support helped me to start creating and sharing content around fashion. My interest and understanding of brands and brand building eventually led me to co-found Now Media.
Can you share a bit about your personal journey with veganism? When, why, and how did you make the switch?
I’ve always considered myself an animal lover without truly knowing what it means to be one. We’ve had everything from birds, turtles, monkeys, rabbits, cats, dogs, guinea pigs and more around us growing up. But on one holiday, when I was back from Canada, I questioned how I could be eating animals while calling myself an animal lover and that’s when my journey began. It wasn’t something I did overnight though. I first turned pescatarian, then fully vegetarian and then cut out all dairy and now consume foods that are only plant-based. It’s been about 5 years. Now that I’m more aware, I wish I’d not only done it sooner, but also wish I’d had more people around me who understood how cruel the meat and dairy industries are.
Which are your favourite restaurants/cafes that offer plant-based food options?
Habibi Falafel, Sante, Herbi (online), Brik Oven (Vegan Pizzas), Burma Burma
What are your favorite foods/daily food cravings?
I love pasta, and now with so many vegan cheese options, it’s something we have at least a couple of times a week at home.
What is the one motto you live by personally?
“Live and Let Live”. It’s something I strongly believe in and what made me stop consuming meat and dairy. No sentient being deserves to have their lives taken away from them for a meal.
Could you give us your perspective on the below myths?
a. “Vegan fashion is synthetic and made from plastic.” — From using coconut to pineapple, mushroom, and cactus; vegan fashion is a lot more sustainable and is leading the way.
b. “Vegan fashion? Not for me, thanks, I’m not a fan of the “earthy” look.” — A lot more brands are creating vegan lines. If H&M has done it and mainstream fashion brands are doing it, there is no excuse.
Who are your inspirations that got you to make the switch?
On Instagram, Surge does a phenomenal job at educating people, not just about the unimaginable cruelty, but also about the irreversible environmental impact that meat and dairy have. And it was of course Earthling Ed’s content that got me to follow Surge. Besides that, even Arvind Animal Activist is a huge voice and inspiration.
Is there anything you are working on currently in relation to the plant-based movement?
Yes, we’ve started a website www.whatsvegan.in. My husband & I started building it a little while back and is still in the process of being updated. We aim to create a page where Indians can discover all things vegan from food, fashion to beauty. We’re hoping to build it to become the go-to ‘Vegan’ directory in the country! We also have an Instagram page called @WhatsVegan.in where we’ve got our team sharing facts, meat & dairy substitutes, news, recipes and much more!
What do you think is the future of the food system and the plant-based movement in the next 10 years?
I’m super excited about it! It’s incredible to see more people and brands making the switch to not just simply meet the changing demand in consumer preferences, but by championing and making conscious moves to make this world a little less cruel and plant-based.
Few words/tips that you can leave us with for anyone looking to transition towards a plant-based lifestyle.
It can seem overwhelming at first but with so, so many plant-based alternatives in the market, it’s become easier than it ever could have been. You can single-handedly help put an end to innocent animals suffering. It’s the only thing you need to remember to make the switch. We’ve always been conditioned to believe animals are here for us when they’re just here with us.
Divya shares vibrant and informative footage of food, veganism and sustainable fashion on her Instagram profile. Follow her to know more — https://www.instagram.com/divyamaben/
To know more about What’s Vegan — https://www.instagram.com/whatsvegan.in/
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