A couple who helped introduce vegan, dairy-free foods to their native India and who now call B.C. home are about to launch the world’s first vegan probiotic lassi.
Vanita and Sunny Gurnani, who immigrated to Vancouver earlier this year and who have two vegan children, are the cofounders of Plant Veda. The company’s Organic Cashew Mango Lassi will be released at VegExpo at the Vancouver Convention Centre West on May 5.
The Gurnanis gave up animal products after dining at a vegan restaurant in San Jose a few years ago.
“We learned about cruelty in the dairy industry and how calves get separated from their mothers during a very young age,” Sunny Gurnani tells the Straight. “We were expecting at that time and could relate to the emotional stress on the mother and the baby. We turned vegan and later learned about health benefits as well and are raising both of our kids vegan. Our kids are very healthy and active.”
Lassi is traditionally made with yogurt, along with water, ice, sugar, salt, and sometimes spices and fruit. It's said to boost gut health and cool the body.
Plant Veda’s vegan version consists of cashews, oats, cane sugar, Himalayan salt, fruit pectin, and live, beneficial dairy-free cultures.
With it, the Gurnanis hope to make lassis as popular as kombucha.
“Most people who go to Indian restaurants should have tried lassi, a delicious probiotic drink having slight tangy taste with at least a thousand-year history.” Sunny Gurnani says. “In India, lassi is a favourite drink enjoyed with meals, especially in summers.
“We’re taking it even further, using 100-percent whole plant-based ingredients,” he adds.
With mango being Plant Veda’s first lassi flavour, others are in the works, including vanilla, turmeric, and, using B.C. produce, blueberry and raspberry.
Previously, Plant Veda launched the world’s first vegan buttermilk. While living in San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Canada, the pair also ran an Indian vegan food truck called Carrots.
The Gurnanis named their company after vedas, ancient spiritual scriptures, which they say praise plants as the nourishing mother of humankind.