As more Nepali people are becoming conscious of their environmental footprint, ethical impact and their health choices, they are opting to transition into a plant-based lifestyle. This transition has been made easier with the establishment of Vegan Dairy Nepal, which supplies alternatives to animal-derived food products from dairy-free alternatives to essential vitamin supplements.
Read our conversation with the co-founder of Vegan Dairy Nepal Ms. Kajol Sethia, a passionate advocate for animal rights who is making a vegan lifestyle and sustainable future, accessible and affordable to the wider Nepali community.
What was the motivation behind starting your business?
Prior to the establishment of Vegan Dairy Nepal, the lack of animal-based product alternatives on the market didn’t provide any incentive or excitement for non-vegan consumers to try a plant-based lifestyle which can help them lead, if not a healthier life, one that is free of animal suffering and pain.
What were the major challenges associated with setting up a vegan-friendly business?
The biggest challenge was explaining the concept of ‘Veganism’ itself. Most people are familiar with vegetarianism but Veganism is a rather new concept in Nepal. It was very difficult to make people understand that choosing to lead a vegan lifestyle is a conscious choice to live a life that is filled with love, compassion, and kindness for all sentient beings of this planet. Instead, I focused on educating others about nutritional factors that can be derived from vegan food options and the detrimental impact on the environment as well as animal welfare issues associated with factory farming.
What is included in your product line and do you have plans for product diversification?
Currently our food product ranges from plant-based milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, honey, energy bars and oils. Meanwhile, our supplement line is also 100% vegan, ranging from Vegan B12 seasoning, Algae Omega 3 DHA, multivitamins, clean protein, clean collagen, eye vitamins and kids multivitamins which are free from unsustainable preservatives such as palm oil. We will be diversifying our line by adding new products launching soon, so watch this space!
How do you manufacture your products?
Majority of our products are produced in-house by us while the supplement line is outsourced from top manufacturers from all around the world. Our in-house manufactured products are packaged in biodegradable glass jar packaging to reduce plastic waste. We also try to source as many local ingredients but also import certain ingredients.
Where can we purchase your products?
You can purchase our products by messaging directly to us through our instagram and facebook pages. We are also available on online platforms such as Daraz as well as retail stores and cafes around town like Jalpa Coffee, Avata Wellness Centre, Himgiri Organic Hub Boudha, and more!
Who are your major target groups?
Our products are suitable for vegans, non-vegans and vegetarians and we also have a varied price range depending on if it’s food products or supplements therefore, it is for everyone!
How has this pandemic affected your company?
Fortunately, due to our presence in both the F&B industry and online-based outlets, we still had a high volume of sales during the pandemic. However, it did reduce the sales of our products from our retail partners such as cafes and grocery stores as they were mostly shut down during a major part of this pandemic.
What social change do you aim to bring through your company?
We at Vegan Dairy Nepal aim to put an end to animal exploitation around the world. If a small company like ours can even contribute to a 0.1% change through both our products and activism, we will view it as a mass change. Furthermore, we hope to promote our message together through joint effort with activists, businesses and policies to make this planet an animal-friendly one, where we understand the basic principle of living and giving others the chance of living freely too.
How are you planning to grow your company?
We are growing organically and slowly as we want to keep it a family-run business. We have plans for expansion outside of Kathmandu and also exporting our products to introduce vegan-friendly and made-in-Nepal products globally.
Do you see non-vegan consumers having any concern towards the products of your company?
Actually, most of our customers are non-vegans and they have been really supportive. It makes us happy that with every product we sell, we are doing a small part in reducing animal cruelty that might still exist if our customers choose to buy differently.
The common argument on Veganism is although vegan diets are beneficial in many aspects, it does incite some detriments. What are your thoughts on this?
Simply put, a vegan diet can be either healthy or unhealthy. Firstly, it is important to understand Veganism is a way of living that encompasses the right of animals to live freely and end their exploitation for human needs. Secondly, even if you follow a healthy diet such as a plant-based diet, you still need to exercise, sleep well, drink water regularly, avoid smoking, drinking and substance abuse. Being vegan doesn’t automatically improve your health if you don’t quit the other harmful aspects of your lifestyle. However, in comparison to eating animal-derived foods that are filled with hormones and carcinogens, choosing to live sustainably and eating as much whole food plant-based diet, can also reduce one’s environmental impact and aid in health and disease management.
What is the biggest misconception about adopting a vegan lifestyle?
Possibly the fact that vegan food items do not provide ‘adequate nutrition’ and lack of animal-derived foods can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, studies have shown vegan food products have a dense nutritional profile and usually fewer calories than their animal-derived counterparts. Furthermore, B12 can be easily incorporated into the diet through supplementation such as from our nutritional yeast which is fortified with B12 vitamins. More recently, factory farming and decline in soil quality has reduced the uptake of B12 by animals from natural sources through grazing, which results in animal products being B12 deficient as well. Therefore, animal-derived foods are not the only source of vitamin B12.
What advice would you give to other emerging entrepreneurs?
Just go for it and never give up on your dreams because the time you give up, might be just a step away from getting successful. In fact, finding happiness in the struggle to achieve your dreams is what makes one a true entrepreneur.
Any final words for the readers?
I would urge everyone to please go vegan for the animals, for the planet and for our health because they are all suffering from the choices we make. We are just here to make a change in people’s lifestyles and to lead them towards a life that calls out for justice towards all sentient beings. Everyone can easily join this movement by adding more plant-based products/services and ending animal-derived products/services from their business.
Have you tried or are interested in experimenting with plant-based products? You can now explore Vegan Dairy Nepal’s 100% vegan food items and supplements by clicking the links down below.