If you spend as much as a few minutes with Divya Nichani, you’ll know that she’s all about living the healthy life. The brains behind Puraw Vida (which means pure life), Divya not only founded India’s first gourmet vegan and raw living brand, but she also practices what she preaches.
“I have been practicing and teaching Iyengar Yoga for more than a decade,” says 36-year-old Divya. “I love feeling healthy. I love being healthy. I love eating well, and I love prioritising wellness. I love getting my long hours of sleep and going on subsequent long runs after; I also love practising yoga everyday, while pushing myself and my students by fuelling everyone with healthy, balanced, nutritious meals.”
Divya’s love for healthy living is positively contagious, so we decided to learn more from her about her journey as well as her brand, Puraw Vida.
IB: Tell us a little about your journey towards becoming vegan. How long have you been vegan for, and is that how Puraw Vida come into existence?
Divya: Till the age of 15, I was a hardcore meat eater — until one day I saw the slaughter of some chickens in a market. That’s when I became a vegetarian. I didn’t do it for my health — I did it because my conscience could no longer allow me to complain about slaughterhouses, factory farms, feedlots and animal torture if I was complicit in them by consuming animal products. Being a good cook I have learned a lot, but the greatest difficulty still is eating out. My dream is someday to have as many vegan restaurants as conventional ones!
I’ve been a very strict vegan for over 10 years now. While being vegan has plenty of health benefits, I also love that veganism protects animals and the environment. I didn’t turn vegan on a whim either. I found myself drifting down that road and decided to take a steady jog until I reached my destination, by immersing myself in research before I made my final decision. It took forever to persuade my parents, husband, and in-laws, because they had a hard enough time with me being a vegetarian to begin with!
Being vegan is sometimes difficult, and that’s why Puraw Vida came into existence. Puraw Vida, as I describe it, is being there for everyone. Puraw Vida is love, sunsets, the ocean, waves, mountains, views, animals, nature, yoga, living foods and all the little things that make life great. It helps you make the most out of everything and the time you have. Puraw Vida, quite simply, is a way of life.
IB: What exactly do you mean when you say ‘gourmet vegan’ and ‘raw living’?
Divya: Gourmet vegan and raw living doesn’t mean expensive, exotic, or rare food. In its truest sense, it really means using some of the freshest ingredients that are of the highest possible quality. You can easily use it into your own kitchen — all it takes is a little time and effort!
IB: From personal experience, what are the benefits of following the vegan lifestyle?
Divya: Most people have limited knowledge, or worse, have had an unpleasant experience with vegan food. The biggest misconception, in fact, is that you need to have meat, and food without meat is no fun at all. But I assure you, if prepared properly, vegan food can be just as tasty — without the side effects linked with meat-heavy diets including diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. Since vegan diets often rely heavily on healthy staples, they tend to be higher in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fibre. Healthy vegan diets are abundant with vitamins B1, C, and E, folic acid, magnesium, and iron while also being low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
One of my claims to fame is that I can pretty much veganise any meat lover’s dish and you’d love it! Furthermore, vegan diets can be healthy for a person of any age — including children, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly.
IB: For more reasons than one, being a vegan surely isn’t easy. What advice do you have for those who’re trying to turn vegan but are scared to take the plunge?
Divya: Veganism is all about opening your heart and mind to care more for animals, the environment, and your own body. But how does one get there? Cultivate the habit of trying new foods at every opportunity — the payoff will be huge. If you set a goal of sampling at least five new vegan foods every week, you’ll doubtless discover a steady stream of new foods you love.
A sure sign that you are headed in the right direction is when you notice that your diet is slowly becoming more satisfying and delicious than it ever was. Month by month, you can bring your food choices into increasing alignment with your values, and eat more compassionately, healthfully, and sustainably than ever before.
Divya Nichani brings you Puraw Vida through her expertise in yoga and raw vegan cooking. To learn more about the brand, click here.
Image Credit: Puraw Vida