Friday, November 27, 2015

We need all-out #WarOnObesity

Did you see the recent report on the obesity rate inching up here in the US? See link - 
So many people were shocked, I was not. I would tell you why. Think of the effort CDC, other government agencies, various foundation and organizations putting in this battle. The first lady Michelle Obama is at the forefront of this battle against the childhood obesity. And the childhood obesity rate has gone down. But everything is in the battle mode not the war. A country with more than 70% overweight prevalence including 36% adults being obese and with almost $100 Billion spent every year to fight this menace, we needed #NoHolds war. And this situation is persisting for more than 10 years.

We are not doing the basic things right. Its common knowledge that the low income populace are disproportionately affected by this menace. If you see this report, the obesity rate for the African American women is 56% and for the Hispanics women is 46% and you can guess why though the report does not mention the income link. 2 things are happening here. The knowledge gap and the access to the healthy food.

The survey after survey points out that 60% of the adult Americans don’t know about the BMI, the Body Mass Index. Is it not outrageous? Like this is the first thing you should know if you are overweight or not. Because then you can think of what you should eat or how much. In the New York city, the restaurants are putting the calorie value of food items since 2005 and as per the surveys, only 30% of the patrons took notice of it. I was wondering why the people would take the notice of something which does not concern them. I mean if people know they are overweight, then they would see the calorie. So why not the BMI poster like us which we have put at the entrance and the back-page of our menu. We have BMI in our logo and the phone number too. Like if you interact with Nirmal once in any form, you can’t escape the BMI, period. See various posters at our website under ‘Nirmal at a glance.’ My point is how long our fellow citizens would suffer under the garb of some rights, or the amendment or the limited government? See being overweight is the precursor to the most of the health issues and here I am not talking about the kids being bullied for being obese and some cases ending up in the suicides.

Now take Glycemic index (GI), other critical factor in the weight watch. What’s your guess of % population knowing it? My guess is 10% plus or minus 5%. We all should eat the food items with the low glycemic index. What happens when you eat foods with high GI is that it results in the sugar spikes and the crashes. Momentarily you would feel full and in the very short period, you would again feel hungry. And you go for more food, mainly the fast food. Meats and the most vegetables except the potato have very low GI and here the majority eat meat as their main food, so no need to worry about GI.

But that leads to another issue which I mentioned earlier – the access to the healthy food. In the US, the meat is synonymous with the protein or the vice-versa. But there are 2 other sources of proteins too. The meat protein has medium to high fat and low saturated fat, the milk protein has high fat and saturated fat both and the meat or protein substitutes such as lentils, soya chunks, tofu, other legumes have low fat and zero saturated fat. The last option is the cheapest source too. When I was growing up in India, my protein profile was 50% from the milk, 40% from the substitutes mainly lentils and soya chunks and 10% from the meat (goat meat). No surprise here as India is the largest producer of the milk and the 2nd largest for both the lentils and the goat. Now here in the US, it is almost 33% each from all three sources. And my BMI has hovered around 24 for the last 10 years, just below the overweight mark of 25. My guesstimate for the majority’s protein profile here is 70% meat, 25% milk and rest other sources. But you can ask where you can try eat lentils, soya chunks or tofu. My answer is the home cooking like most of us Indians or Asians do. You can try the lentils, other legumes at Indian restaurants, the lentils being the staple food for the Indian cuisine and the Mediterranean restaurants do carry the legume dishes. No one serves soya chunks as per my knowledge Indian or any other restaurant and I don’t see tofu dishes even in the Chinese buffet, kind of surprise for me.

I have mentioned in my earlier posts how the veggie protein misses just one item-B12 as compared to the meat protein and B12 is plenty in the milk and egg. Vegans do need the supplement. If you have any other doubt about the efficacy of the veggie protein in deciding the intelligence quotient or the academic prowess of you or your kids, you have to watch out for the Asians or Indians in your city or the neighborhood. Not the CEOs of Microsoft, Google or Pepsi. Let me admit I don’t find many vegetarians among the sports persons. I remember reading one report long time back how Viswanathan Anand, the only world chess champion from India, became the meat eater while living in Spain from a staunch vegetarian. And mind you the chess is not physical sports, right. But my point is how many of us earn our livelihood from the sports.

Asians have the obesity rate of 12% as compared to 36% for the others as per this report. We Indians could be easily the flag-bearer of the vegetarianism as India has 42% of population as the vegetarians, almost 500 million, 65% of the world total. Asians do eat plenty of meat as for example China has just 5% population as the vegetarians. But one thing is common, our eating style. Like we eat rice and/or bread as the main item and the meat or veggie entrée as the side dish. Let me explain. When I came to the US, I had never cooked before. So I used to have the lunch at the school cafeteria. And my favorite lunch was the chicken dish which came with 2 Oz of rice, some mashed potato and almost 15 Oz of chicken breast. This is 400 gms of chicken with almost 120 gms protein where a male adult needs just 56 gms and female 46 gms. Compare this with our lunch food box. It has 8 Oz of parboiled rice, one whole wheat bread of 3 Oz, 2 entrees of 5 Oz each and one side fruit or raita of 3 Oz, total 24 Oz. (1 lb = 16 Oz) Even if you take both entrees as Chicken, it would be 10 Oz of curry which contains just 6 Oz of Chicken and around 50 gms of protein.

Are the people eating excessive protein here? I don’t think the excessive protein is a problem for most of us, But the accompanying fat is. Specially the meat and the milk products have plenty of fat. Am I asking you to eat Asian or Indian style? Yes, if this changes your protein profile and reduces your fat consumption. Like if you want to eat lentils, soya chunks etc, you have to eat them in Indian style, not as the salads or soups. Basically I am pitching for the home cooking which gives you much better control and choice of what and how much you eat.

We made switch to only whole wheat bread (called Roti) and the parboiled rice in Feb 2015 in tune with our mantra of Eat Healthy, Save Energy, Save Our Planet. The Naan bread, made from all purpose flour, is made in Tandoor oven which consumes 3 times more energy than the Roti made on Tawa, the way we make at home and eat daily. So we discarded Tandoor oven as well as Naan, almost synonymous with Indian cuisine here in the US. Some patrons got upset and we lost some business too. But is it worth? Yes as both whole wheat bread and parboiled rice have much lower GI and very high dietary fiber in comparison. Like 1 whole wheat bread is equivalent to 8 white breads. Please read our website blog ‘Why whole wheat’ to get more reasons to make switch. But the issue again is where you would find the whole wheat bread and the parboiled rice. I don’t see the whole wheat flour and the parboiled rice at the Sam’s club and GFS in our locality, the two biggest suppliers for the restaurants. So I can guess there are not many options for you.

Did you come across the recent WHO guidelines about the processed and red meat? See this link -
The Indian food and our style of cooking is the slowest. One reason is the usage of plenty of spices which take its own time for absorption. Now I think you have plenty of reasons for the home cooking specially the Asian or Indian way. Give it a try, see if it makes the difference or not and then decide.

One thing for sure, if you #EatRight in 7 steps, see my earlier post, you are making a global impact helping millions, not just yourself.

Now to summarize, the tools for #WarOnObesity:

1.   Know BMI and let others know, try Nirmal’s way
2.   FDA to label the food items for GI
3.   Change the protein profile of your food intake
4.   Home cooking and try the slow food

5.   #EatRight, not just #EatHealthy

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is the Veganism anti-dote to the Vegetarianism

Why I chose to touch this issue now? October is very happening month for the veggie world. First, this month is being celebrated as the Vegetarian Awareness Month. It started with the World Vegetarian Day on Oct 1st and would end on Nov 1st, the World Vegan Day. Also Oct 16 is celebrated by UN as the World Food Day which deals with the food security for the global population. But I have struggled with this issue since my college days almost 25 years back. Off course that time I have no inkling of my future as a food entrepreneur and positioning Indian food as the flag bearer of the vegetarianism. Also the recent debate about #BeefBan in India did play a role in my take here.

If I would mention my first brush with the Veganism happened way back in my college days that too in India, you would laugh me off. Like even today there are 500 million vegetarians in India, 65% of the world but the vegans may be 1-2 million, my guesstimate though. The reason is simple- we Indians get most of protein from the milk, India being the largest producer of milk in the world. I would blame this on the sweet tooth of Indians too. Like if you think of US, out of approx 16 million vegetarian population, 4-5 million are Vegans or may be more. 

In 1989 Mrs Maneka Gandhi, an ultimate vegan crusader I would call her, was a minister in the Federal govt of Mr V.P. Singh, then Prime Minister. Incidentally she is now also a minister in the present Federal Govt. Leave aside politics part of it.  I came across a news item one day that she had persuaded Mr Singh to give up the milk altogether. It was a big news for us Indians. Like in those days if I eat three meals a day, all meals would have milk or yogurt or the sweets made of milk. It helps that India is the largest producer of the milk and it is the primary source of protein for millions of family along with the lentils. Now I may eat the milk product once during or after the dinner. Mind you it was an era when the internet had started to bloom and there was no TMI  (too much information) factor.

I was struck by her 2 arguments for the Veganism - why no other mammal drink milk of others like Lion cubs drinking milk of elephant given that Lion is the king of the forest. And why we humans don't have teeth of the meat eating animals like Lions or even the dogs. Like if we consider Chimps or monkeys as our ancestors, they are still vegans, right. But yah we humans are the smartest creature on this planet and we figured out the ways to do something which other creatures don't do naturally. And we made our pets dogs or cats alike to do what we do. That is one part of the story.

Another part is where are we now in this journey of being the smartest? We humans consume 250 million tons or 550 billion pounds of meat. and almost 800 million tons of milk every year. 1 ton = 2200 pounds. Every year almost 20 billion animals and birds are killed for the meat, approx 60 million a day. So say one day we all wake up and by some magic the whole world turns Vegan, then what happens to these birds and animals. Assuming on average 30 days stock of meat is ready, we are talking about 2 billion animals and birds, which are alive or grown up at any point. 

let me share one more story here. Have you heard about Heritage Food USA ' campaign for 'Eat Goat to Save Goat' or 'NoGoatLeftBehind'. Why? Goat cheese is wildly popular in the US but there is no demand for the goat meat. So the male baby goats are killed within a week of birth or so as there is no usage of them. Heritage Food connects the goat farm to the restaurants so that at least male goats have some usage and they get to live a bit longer. Sounds weird, right? But I would tell you why it sounds more weird.

Goat meat is healthier than even chicken, please see 'Nirmal at a glance' at our website. Also it is the most sustainable meat. One pound of goat meat needs 127 gallons of water, beef 1800 gallons, pork 700, chicken 500, tofu 300, soya 200. On top of it, the goat milk is better than other milks we consume. Please see the link -

Besides that goat consumes 1/3 of grass consumed for the same amount of beef and 1/5 of grain for the pork. And goat could be reared anywhere from the Himalayas to the sub-Saharan Africa. Mind you 60-70% of the world agriculture land is used for the animal feed. Then why the world meat consumption consists of 37% pork, 31% chicken, 24% beef, 6% goat and rest other animals and birds. Also the meat consumption alone accounts for 21% of the world  greenhouse gases, more than that emitted by all modes of transportation from the airplanes to the auto-rickshaws. You don't have to believe in the climate change for that matter but the pattern of meat consumption now is not sustainable, period. See other posts for why.

Now let me share a brief background of the beef debate in India. India has  a population of 1.3 billion out of which 85% are Hindus. In the Hinduism, the cow is considered sacred and we Hindus don't eat beef. Though the cow is not national animal of India, the cow slaughter ban is in place in 24 out of 29 states in India. Article 48 of the Indian constitution mandates the states to prohibit the slaughter of the cows and other cattle. In 2005, Indian Supreme court upheld the constitutional validity of this article. India has 12% Muslim population and Muslims don't eat pork. Also India is the 2nd largest producer of goat, hence majority of restaurants in India don't serve beef or pork rather they serve chicken and goat. But then why India is 5th largest producer of the beef and 1st in the beef export. Because India is so corrupt that it boasts of 3600 legal and 30000 illegal slaughter houses as per one estimate. So I always wonder why there is such a hue and cry over the beef whenever the BJP, the Hindu Nationalist Party in the US media, comes to power at the federal level. Recently this debate came to the world stage when a Muslim was killed by some Hindu fanatics on the suspicion of keeping or eating beef at home. I am not much in the politics but I know the Indian history well. As per my knowledge BJP (its previous avatar Jansangh) or its so called mentor RSS had no role in the drafting of the Indian constitution. Article 48 represents the aspirations and beliefs of 85% of population. 

Let me share my story finally. I grew up in a village in India in the early 80s. Actually India lives in its villages as still now 60% of population live in the villages mostly engaged in the agriculture, way down from 80% in my time.  Our family was well-off in the sense that we have had some agriculture land as well as 5-6 cows and buffalo. Then our neighbors who did not have land, used to rear the goats, rightly called the poor's cow. We had the cow-shed outside to house our cattle whereas the goats lived like the pets in their homes, no shed required.  I remember as a kid I was trained to respect or I would say revere the cow, not so much for the female buffalo though she used to give more milk. The adult male cows (Ox) were used in various capacity - to plow the field, still relevant as the average land holding in India is still 1/2 acre, to drive carts to transport materials on the mud roads connecting the villages, still useful, to be used in 'Kolhu' to produce the oil, not relevant now. Then the dung from the cattle were dried and used as fuel, still relevant for the poor in India. The dung could be stored underground to convert them to the fertilizer and subsequent gas production, still relevant. I never came across or heard about the killing of any cattle. On the contrary, the baby male goats were castrated at the age of 2 -3 months to let them grow big and fetch better price as a meat item at the age of around 2 years. So they don't have to die young like here in the US. Our family used to have meat only on Sundays and that too only goat. Like the male goats have no other use except  as the meat. And despite treating them like the pets, it was OK for us to eat them. Like we humans do have perfect quid pro quo. In India, the cattle is additional source of the economic independence for the farmers or the people living in the villages. 

I would frame this debate in 2 categories - the developed countries like US, European Union and the developing and other poor countries like India, Latin America and Africa.

In the developed countries, the meat and milk consumption is so high that everything is commercialized, the factory farming.  Has it killed our compassion as PETA calls it? Yes very much. Like the US would be easily the most pet friendly country in the world with 65% of the family having some kind of pets. Then why people don't have compassion for other animals? Very valid question, right. But this meat consumption is not sustainable. We don't need to wait for the California drought to understand it.  No surprise that the Vegan or vegetarian movement is the strongest in the US and Europe. The biggest myth which has been perpetuated so long in the US is you need 'Meat for Protein.' It has caused havoc with the public health with 70% of the population being overweight or obese. We want to dispel this myth and Indian food has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options with lot of protein. Like people can't go on eating salads and soups whole life and it is asking too much from them.

For the developing and poor countries, the cattle would be a source of the economic upliftment as well as the nutrition for the majority of population. India is a fit test case. India has almost  42% of population being vegetarian but per capita per day meat consumption is mere 12 gms as compared to US's 330 gms, Europe 220 gms and China 160 gms (1 lb=454 gms). The reason is majority of meat eating population in India eat meat once or twice a week like we used to do. Our 'Curry' or usage of spices makes veggie eating easier, tastier and affordable. It has potential to kill or reduce the factory farming.

So back to the Veganism Vs the Vegetarianism debate. More and more people would switch to the vegetarian eating in the long term whatever be the reasons, from the obesity to our Curry to the drought in California to the climate change debate. We humans have lived with the cattle for the millennia and can co-exist happily. There has to be some sort of quid pro quo with the cattle population like they are not wild animals like the lions, tigers or elephants and just part of our food ecosystem. So the Veganism sounds elitist as it leaves the billions of poor and the animals in the lurch. The poor may find another source of cheap protein but what happens to the billions of cattle and the birds either to be culled or sterilized like we do for our pets here. Or we may have to find a way to stop or limit producing the male cattle. Remember we humans are the smartest and we can control the lives of our fellow animals.

Yah, it is the anti-dote to the Vegetarianism. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

7 steps to make the world better place

One afternoon in 2013 while driving on the highways, I was struck with the word 'disruptive eating.' LIke I was toying with so many words or phrases to define what we were trying to do at Nirmal. Think of an Indian restaurant if you have had exposure to Indian cuisine. What comes to your mind? Buffet, Tandoori Chicken, Naan bread, full service, afternoon closed, may be in not this order. At Nirmal, we did away with all 5 off course with a purpose or a reasoning. Part of it came from our pursuit to find a model to build the first Indian food chain in the world. Another part was how Indian food could fight the obesity and the overweight prevalence in the US. Later we realized that 'Nirmal with disruptive eating' can disrupt the food industry in the US and beyond if we manage to have the wider footprints. How? In 2 years, our concept evolved to bring other things under the umbrella of 'disruptive eating', 7 steps to be specific. Because only healthy eating to achieve good physical health is not enough for general well-being of a person or actually very few would be able to sustain good physical health without other aspects.
Step 1 - Know Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
This is step 1 and from our logo to our phone no-844-KNOW-BMI or the first poster at our entrance blares this message. I am aware of some patrons' comment that we are overdoing the things. A country with 74% overweight prevalence and 33% obesity and $116 B in annual expenditure to fight these still wants to wait for launching a war against is not comprehensible to me. Perhaps some people have not come across the kids who have low self-esteem or bullied all around because they are obese or well overweight. See we all know being overweight is precursor to most of the health issues or being obese makes your day-to-day life tough. Then why this non-chalance? Trust me once you know you are overweight or obese, your eating habit would change subconciously. I am not talking of people who dont give a hoot to the society, community or the country. 
Step 2 - You don't have to eat 'Meat for Protein'
If you read other posts on this blog, you would see how we try to dispel so many myths and how 'Curry', the integral part of Indian food, makes veggie eating easier. But the question remains  here in the US how people would eat veggie and where? Like veggie here means salad or some baked vegetables or potato sandwich. Let me share some facts.  At Nirmal, we do serve lentils, tofu, soya and other vegetables.
Think of it. Canada is the largest producer of lentils and the lentils may be the cheapest source of protein as well as the dietary fiber. Then why it is not popular in this part of the world. India is the second largest producer and it is staple food item in Indian cuisine.
Lentils with any whole grain is complete protein. We discarded Naan bread (made from all purpose flour) at Nirmal so as to serve only 'Whole wheat bread' called Roti. Most of us may know how beneficial whole wheat or whole grain is. But you wont find whole wheat flour at Sam's club or GFS, the two biggest suppliers for the restaurants. That shows why you won't find whole wheat bread for burgers or tortillas at most of the restaurants?
Take Tofu, processed food made from Soyabeans with low protein and low calories. It comes from Chinese cuisine and you won't find or rarely find it in Chinese buffet here. I did not eat Tofu in India, honestly did not hear about it. But then I can see the reason.
We in India eat Soya chunks, high protein and high calorie food. See the 'Meat for Protein' poster under Nirmal at a glance. Please visit to know about soya products and I can say abashedly we treated soya chunks as a meat substitute as it is complete protein on its own. Then why no cuisine whatever I see in the US use soya chunks. That is baffling. It could be cheap source of protein but it may have stigma of poor's protein. Or there are so many myths with the soya products here. In India, there are 500 million vegetarians, 65% of the world vegetarians and Nutrela soya chunks is one of the most popular options for all rich and poor everyone. As for myths' part, ask any Indian here and most of us grew up eating soya chunks. Even we are non-vegetarians, it is once or twice a week meat meal. For India, meat consumption per day per capita is mere 12 gms as compared to 330 gms in US, 220 gms in EU and 160 gms in China.
Meat is not sustainable, period. The link below details one part of story. How one pound of beef needs 1800 gallons of water as compared to tofu needing 300 gallons, Soya 218 gallons, lentils less than 100 gallons. Add this to the fact that 70% of the agriculture land we use now for the animals feed and think how long majority of us would be able to afford the cost of meat.
 Step 3 - Eat Goat if you are non-vegetarians
How much PETA wants us to turn vegetarians, it is not going to happen in our life-time for sure. 1 billion populace out of 7 billion are engaged in the meat production, processing and delivery. If you talk of compassion for the animals, the factory farming has killed our compassion. So what is next best option, the goat meat. Why?
See our poster. Goat meat is healthier than even Chicken and it is far more sustainable meat. One pound of goat needs just 127 gallons of water as compared to 468 gallons for 1 pound of chicken, 576 gallons for pork and 731 gallons for lamb. Goat could be reared anywhere from the sub-saharan Africa to the Himalays. It needs 1/5 of grain needed for pork and 1/3 of grass for beef. 
Then you may ask why there is almost no demand for goat meat here in the US? Why the Heritage Food has the weird slogan of 'Eat Goat to Save Goat.' Why Chinese restaurants here dont serve goat meat as China is the largest producer of goat. Few Indian restaurants do serve goat meat like us, India being the 2nd largest producer.
Too many whys, same nonchalance.
Step 4 - Avoid Food wastage at any cost
The US alone wastes $165 Billion of food, 40% by the consumers and 60% by the stores. But for the global scenario, see this link – 
We discarded the Buffet on this very ground as we used to throw lot more food than the customers leaving on their plates. Buffet is meant for the introduction of any cuisine and we now have $5 option in the form of Food Box with 5 items. Food box has far more varieties than the buffet. In Europe, you get fined for leaving food at your plate, see this link-
The fast food culture has played a role in this food wastage too as most of the foods are now ready to be served. And if it does not sell, it needs to be thrown away. At Nirmal, we make 90% of our food as per order and our patrons have to wait longer for their food. Indian food is not fast food and we make our food as we do at home.
Step 5 - To make healthy food affordable, Home cooking key
Majority of populace here in the US wont be able to afford so-called veggie, nutritious food and needless to mention why tacos, burgers, pizzas are the best selling items in the US. You dont have to be a NASA scientist to guess that majority of overweight population are the low income people. So we provide $5 lunch or dinner but for a family of 4, it is still costly. Hence the home cooking is the key. We share at the social media how to make the basic Indian food or now people have so many options to know what and how to cook the healthier options. Home cooking is a habit and it would take time to inculcate. But worth doing it. Most of us Indians grew up with the home cooking specially by the ladies of the house as per our culture. It strengthens the bond of the family and saving the money is an added bonus.
Step 6 - Self-Gratification, you make global impact
The meat consumption alone counts for 21% of the green house gases, more than that caused by all aeroplanes, trains, vehicles combined all over the world, the main culprit for the global warming. I don't think Pope and the 90% of the world are stupid who believes in the global warming. So if you eat less meat or skip meat once a week, you do make a contribution. Say you start eating goat meat instead of other meats, you are helping in fight against the global hunger and poverty, see our last post. Just sharing our message of 'disruptive eating' through mouth to mouth or the social media (Twitter, Facebook or Instagram), you are doing a favor to make the world a better place.
Step 7 - Physical health tied to mental n spiritual health
If you think just eating the salads or the healthy food and spending some hours at the gym is enough, you are missing something. Mental n spiritual health sustain your physical health. My personal choice comes from the two pillars of Indian culture - Yoga and Gita. The UN sponsored the first celebration of #InternationalYogaDay on 21st June this year finally according the Yoga a status it deserved for so long. 'Gita' celebrated 5151st anniversary last year and this is a book technically. Please visit to have a look. But you have so many other options just a click away. 
We launched our campaign for #DisruptiveEating on the Mothers' Day this year at Twitter handle @NirmalCurry. It was just not symbolic as we believe the young kids need to get informed, guided from step 1 to 7 and the mothers have all important role to play.
Join our campaign 4 #PureMHealthyM if you are in Michigan. We are looking for the partners who can join us in our endeavor to take our message all over the Michigan and the US.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Lentils and Goat hold the key to fight the global hunger and poverty

Are you surprised by the Lentils and Goat combination? For the people in US and other developed countries, both are almost alien food items, not used frequently. For Indians, both are much familiar as India holds the 2nd position worldwide in the production of both and the lentils is the staple food. Canada is the largest producer of the lentils and China for the goats.
Lentils and goats are 2 essential components of the 'disruptive eating' which we practice and promote through Nirmal. Please read our earlier posts. The 'disruptive eating' connects the healthy eating to the climate change. Both are the most glaring issues of our generation.
The healthy eating component has 2 parts - one, you don't have to eat meat for protein and second, for non-vegetarians, the goat meat is far better option. Just to give an idea, the meat consumption alone produces more greenhouse gases than that of all aeroplanes, trains, automobiles combined, 21% of the total. The lentils combined with the rice or any whole grain is the complete protein. In bonus, the lentils is the excellent source of the dietary fiber. See the link -
 Also the veggie protein has one component missing as compared to the meat protein -B12. One can get plenty of B12 in the dairy and the eggs. The vegans need to get the supplement from the other sources.
We believe that the whole world population can't turn the vegetarians overnight, not feasible either as per the food chain point of view or the employment wise. Almost 1 Billion people are engaged in the meat production, transportation and the distribution. Out of 7 Billion of the world population, now there are just 750 million vegetarians, 500 million in India. Percentage wise, India has 42% vegetarians as compared to 10% in the US and 5% in the China. Such high percentage of vegetarians in India could be attributed to our cultural moorings as well as the Curry based food. The Curry uses the plenty of the spices whose taste is so dominant that it makes the presence of veggie or the meat item almost redundant. Like if you eat soya curry or chciken curry, your taste buds would get almost the same pleasure. The India was well known for its spices since the time immemorial and still is the largest producer of the spices in the world. That's why the Indian cuisine is the integral part of the 'disruptive eating.'
The goat meat despite being the red meat is healthier than even Chicken. See the link from the Michigan State University, one of the top agriculture research universities in the US -  
But that is not the biggest advantage of the goat meat. Once you go through this link - ""-story.html# , you may get shocked. One pound (454 gms) of the beef uses 1800 gallon of water (1 gallon=3.78 liters). Compare this with the pork needing 576 gallon, Chicken 468, Lamb 731 and the stupendous Goat needs just 127 gallons. I know the beef supporters always forward the argument that for the grain fed beef, the water requirement comes down by 75%, so 1 pound beef would need 450 gallons, still 3.5 times of the goat. One reason to combine Lentils with Goat is its water requirement, less than 100 gallons for a pound. Actually the scientists have developed the drought resistant varieties of the lentils.
Let me share some more facts. How many of us know that 70% of the agriculture land in the world is used for some form of feed for the meat producing animals, the pastures or  the grain. See the link - . Here the goat scores too as they are called the browsers not the grazers. As matter of the fact, for the same quantity of the meat, the goat eats 1/3 of the grass needed for the beef and 1/5 of the grain needed for the pork. Also the goat could be reared anywhere from the Himalayas to the Sub-Saharan Africa. In India, the villagers keep the goats as the pets due to its small size. Goat is also good source of the milk and its milk is more tolerant or digestive than the cow's milk.
As of now, the global meat consumption has share of the Pork 38%, the Chicken 30% and the Beef 24%, Goat 6%, total 98%. All other meats fit into 2% including the lamb, the turkey and other meats. And that baffles me. Like if you try our goat curry or goat biryani in Indian Cuisine, it beats hand down any preparation of beef or pork. Off course you need to get used to the spices.
So the goat meat is healthier, far more sustainable than any type of meat, could be tastier in due course, then why its usage is at the bottom of the rung.
We believe that the lack of information is the primary reason. That's why we have started a campaign to ask the UN to declare the #WorldsLentilsDay and #WorldGoatDay on Oct 16, the World Food Day. Let people all over the world focus on the lentils and the goat. We are also pitching for the UN supervised program for #LentilsLand and #GoatLoan. There is so much barren land or the unused government or private land in each and every country. Can UN help in leasing these lands to the landless poor people and help them grow the lentils, called the poor's protein? Also the UN can arrange the goat loan to these or other poor families to build an extra source of income in the form of goat rearing.
The UN sponsored International Days are very effective. Just last month the International Yoga day was celebrated on 21st June. It was observed by 190 countries out of 205 countries or so. I was following the #BeefBan issue in India. Everyone pitched in from the central ministers to the leaders from the other parties to the twitter world. I did not hear a single word from anyone about how the beef is not healthy neither sustainable. I know people would argue that the beef is far cheaper than the goat. It is because there is not very high demand for the goat, a red meat though healthier than Chicken and most of the goat meat produced in India is exported. Once the people start eating the goat meat, the supply would go up too. And with the goat loan, the Indian villages with 51% of population would become the goat farm land and that would bring the price down. In India, there is no need for the beef ban once the people know about the goat.
I am banking on Indian Prime minister Modi Ji to take the cause of the lentils and the goat this year at UN General Assembly like he did for the Yoga last year. I know he is a vegetarian and frequently talks about the lentils production in India. But both things have potential to change the Indian economy. And India needs it more.
Say after the sustained effort of UN and the countries like US, India, China, say by 2050, the goat meat share reaches 50%, Chicken 40%, other meats 10% and 25% of the world population turn the vegetarian, imagine the savings in the grain and the pasture land. This has potential to eradicate the global hunger and the poverty problem.
Why 2050? By then the world population would be 9 billion. Whatever progress we make in the space technology, we won't be able to send more than 10K people to the Mars or the Moon by 2050. So we have to fit in another 2 billion people on our planet and provide food for them. From where?  We have to take back the land from the meat animals, remember 70% of the agriculture land. And only way out is to reduce the meat consumption in general and gradually the goat to replace the beef and pork as the global brand. The forest cover depletion is no longer the option for the human habitat.
And yes, the water is not unlimited what we drink and use for bath, cooking etc. If you think the sea water which covers almost 70% of our planet is an option, forget it. We need to think before we eat anything. Sorry, the Chocolate too.
Recently we launched the campaign for #PureMHealthyM here in the Michigan. Let us take our message to all over the US and beyond. We bank on your participation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Join us at MIT climate co-lab plan~


Disruptive Eating empowers each of us to make a contribution in this big fight against the global warming through the mundane act of eating



Disruptive Eating addresses 2 glaring issues of our generation ~ the climate change and the social inequality by targeting the health inequality. We practice and promote ‘disruptive eating’ at Nirmal Cafe serving Indian food in Ypsilanti, Michigan, US. The 'disruptive eating' has 4 stages. The first stage is 'Know Your BMI' (Body Mass Index). Being overweight is precursor to all types of health related issues. A country like US with 74% overweight prevalence needs high visibility of BMI. The second stage carries '2 messages. First, you don't have to eat meat for protein. Indian cuisine has plenty of veg and vegan options. The Curry based food makes the switch-over to the veggie eating easier. The ample proof is India's 42% population being vegetarian. The meat consumption alone accounts for 21% of the greenhouse gases. Second, eat goat meat if you are non-vegetarian. Goat meat is healthier than Chicken and is more sustainable than beef and pork. Third stage has 3 parts –First, how to make the veggie eating affordable, second promote ‘Home cooking’ and third how to avoid ‘food wastage.’ At Nirmal, we introduced ‘Food Box’ in $5 with 5 items, a healthy alternative to the burgers, tacos and pizzas. We stopped doing the ‘buffet’ on 2 counts – it was a bit pricey, people used to overeat or waste lot of food on their plate. We also used to throw the left-over foods. The Food wastage in the US alone is $165 Billion. We already promote the ‘Home cooking’ through the social media. This would make the Indian food much cheaper for the low income households. At the final stage, our patrons get a sense of gratification being part of the ‘disruptive eating.’ Also the use of ‘bio-degradable’ products at Nirmal makes  anyone visiting us aware of this climate change issue. Also at Nirmal they get opportunity to get exposure to 2 pillars of the Indian culture – Yoga and Gita, a book. We believe the physical health is interdependent on the mental and the spiritual health.

What actions do you propose?

1. We plan to expand the Nirmal franchise all over the US with 1000+ locations in the next 5-10 years. With our direct messaging, our message is very effective. For example 'Know your BMI' is reflected through our logo, phone no, website or the poster at the entrance of Nirmal. Anyone touching Nirmal in any way can't miss BMI thing.
2. We launched 'disruptive eating' campaign on 10th May, 2015, the Mother's Day this year through the social media. The mothers' need to play a big role in our campaign as it involves the family. On Twitter @NirmalCurry, we may have reached 1 million people through the followers of our followers. We want to expand this campaign through Facebook and Instagram as well.
3. Our idea is to raise awareness about the climate change issues. Now it seems that only the government is fighting the global warming. We want people to realize that each of us can contribute in this fight against the global warming. Assume if 100 millions people in the US can skip meat once a week, it would save 3.6 Billion pound of meat a year. The meat consumption accounts for 21% of the greenhouse gases.
4. We promote 'goat meat' for the non-vegetarians. Goat as an animal could be reared from the Himalayas to the Sahara and it is called poor's cow as it is good source of milk too. Goat meat, despite being a red meat, is healthier than Chicken. Goat does not need the pastures or the grains what the beef and pork need. So the goat is far more sustainable than beef and pork. Goat could be a tool to fight the global poverty if we start switching to the goat meat.
So we are linking the healthy eating to the climate change. Who does not want the healthy eating? Once people start realizing that with their proper choice of eating, they can make a global impact in terms of the global warming or the global hunger, they would raise their voice against the policy makers who denies the climate change.
5. FLOTUS, the first lady of the US, Michelle Obama had proposed #GimmeFive challenge on Twitter recently. We proposed POTUS and FLOTUS asking the Americans to skip meat once a week. Or better they can skip meat once a week at the White House. That would have a huge impact.
Also we asked FLOTUS to do a Yoga on the occasion of the first  International Yoga Day on 21st June this year. We believe that the mental and spiritual health is interdependent on the physical health.
We also want the celebrities like LeBron James or Tom Hanks to make the appeal for the veggie eating or for yoga. Given the present social turmoil in the US and beyond, this is the need of the hour.
6. We have a special blog on disruptive eating athttp://nirmalasramban.blogspot.comWe want the people to join us in this discussion and share their ideas.

Who will take these actions?

1. The UN is spearheading this issue of the climate change. We want the UN to declare an International Vegetarian Day,may be on April 7th, the World Health Day.Also Goat could be declared an International  animal and the poor nations could be given the goat loan to fight the global hunger and poverty. I have attached an link depicting how the goat rearing has made the families self-sufficient in Haiti, a poor country and where the goat meat is popular.
2. CDC in the US has come out with some policy guidelines to make the calorie chart of the food items mandatory for the food chains with more than 20 locations. We want CDC to add 'BMI chart' and other posters at Nirmal in their guidelines even for the optional use. Please see
3. We are looking for the support to expand the Nirmal franchise. We are OK with profit or non-profit both ways. Our idea is to practice what we preach. For example, the veggie eating is still not affordable for the low income households. We are offering healthy and cheaper options to the burgers, tacos and pizzas. Also the home cooking would make veggie eating affordable.
The Nirmal may be only restaurant serving goat meat in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area out of 300 restaurants. Everything is related to the demand-supply economics.
4. We expect the celebrities to come forward in the support of veggie eating as well as any tool for the mental and spiritual health like Yoga and Gita.

Where will these actions be taken?

We are now located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, US, the sister city of Ann Arbor, the home to the University of Michigan. On Twitter, we have the followers from UK, Uganda, Austria, Canada etc. Ideally we would prefer to expand in the US to get our franchise model perfect for the global expansion. But our message is simple. If we can take our message to the billions in the poor countries, that could be a game changer. The goat rearing funded by the govt or social agencies could go long way in fighting the global hunger and the poverty.

How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?

1. The veggie eating would have the huge impact on the greenhouse gases. As we mentioned 3.6 Billion pound of meat per year saving in the US. US has 10% vegetarians and China just 5% . If we can inspire people to turn say 20% of the global population to the veggie eating, it would reduce the carbon emission substantially.
2. Say 25% of the non-vegetarians in the world switch to the goat meat in the next 5 years, it can save huge pasture lands needed for the beef production or the grains for the pork meat. Just for example, one pound of steak needs 1850 gallons of water whereas a pound of Tofu needs 300 gallons. Imagine the overall saving. It can impact the global economy too specially of poor countries.

What are other key benefits?

1. The biggest benefit would be a healthy society with strong mental and spiritual character. The US spends $116 Billion per year to fight the obesity.
2. The world would be better place to live in. We can contain the global hunger and the global poverty by veggie as well as goat meat eating. I have attached a link which shows the complete vegetarianism is not feasible.
3. With better control over the global warming, the countries can use their resources for the benefit of their populace.

What are the proposal’s costs?

1. Nirmal CPD (central production cum distribution) unit like Ypsilanti needs $200K to build and operate. It can supply and manage 15-20 Nirmal franchise locations.
2. A Nirmal franchise at a new place would cost $100K.
3. We can convert any restaurant with 10-ft kitchen hood to Nirmal franchise at the cost of $50K.
At this point we are aiming to expand in the US.

Time line

1. The short term goals (5-15 years) is to see 1000+ locations in the US.
2. We are open to Nirmal franchise in the country like India and other poor countries in Africa even now.
3. After 5 years, we can em-bark on the global expansion.
4. In the medium term (15-50 years), we do see almost all restaurants following us in the messaging style and veggie eating and the goat meat becoming the most popular food.
5. In the long term, we do see half of the world population turning vegetarian. Now only 900 million people in the world out of 7 Billion are vegetarian as per one estimate, 500 million being in India.

Related proposals

I could not find any proposal related with the simple act of eating.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why we need 'Disruptive Eating'

I met one college friend recently almost after 8 years. We touched base on the family, the college days and what we are doing now. Naturally now-a-days, I talk a lot about ‘disruptive eating’ and how each of us can make a global impact through such mundane act of eating. He listened to me for 10 minutes. Then he stopped me and asked me a question?

What does the plants eat? I replied ~ Carbon Dioxide and the plants exhale oxygen.
What we inhale? I replied ~ Oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide.
So if we go on reducing the carbon, what the plants would eat? Basically we are reducing the food supply for the plants. Specially he was very unhappy with the government interference in imposing the carbon cut.
I was kind of stumped. Like we went to the same school here. I knew his political leaning but never imagined the degree to which this debate has degraded here in the US.
I did mumble through my response that his concern is not true. I asked him, how much meat he eats in a day? He said, may be a pound. I asked, assume if he gets 3 pounds of meat every day, what he would do? He said, I can’t overeat, this is not good for my health. I would throw it away.
So I said similarly the plants can’t overeat, and they need to throw away the carbon dioxide, where, to our atmosphere. That is what is causing the global warming. But he was not convinced.
So during the same week, I mentioned this encounter to my family. My high-school going daughter was kind of alarmed. She asked me, what was the world population in 1800? She is studying now in her history class about the industrial revolution around 1850 or so. And there were no motor vehicles either that time. I saw where she is coming from. In 1800, there was almost no pollution (extraneous carbon), less human and more trees. Why the less trees now need the carbon dioxide from the outside?
It set me out on some research trail. In 1800, there were approx. 900 million people in the world. Today the world forest cover is 4 Billion hectare. The annual net loss of the world forest coverage is 5.2 million hectare now. This net loss has reduced considerably in the last 10 years. 1 hectare can hold 1000-2500 trees depending on the size, separation etc. The world population now is around 7 Billion and by one estimate there are around 600 to 700 Billion trees now. Whatever way you extrapolate or interpolate, in 1800, there could be 1.5 trillion trees or more.
I wish I could have shared this data with my friend to authenticate my ‘overeating’ logic. But the real problem is 40% of population here shut them off from any debate about the climate change. Today we have a report from NASA on CNN and I am sure the naysayers won’t click the link ~ . No surprise when some republican governors are not ready to utter the CC (climate change) thing.
This debate with my friend put us into the urgency mode and we launched our campaign for ‘disruptive eating’ on the social media on the Mothers’ Day on 10th May 2015. I believe ‘Nirmal for disruptive eating’ can take this message to all and sundry more effectively. How?
Let me disseminate the disruptive eating. Ours is a comprehensive approach to tackle the social inequality and the climate change.
·         The social inequality has 3 components. The health inequality holds the key to overcome the income and educational inequality, the other 2 components.
·         The first step to achieve the health equality is to know your BMI (body mass index), the first stage of the ‘disruptive eating.’ 74% of the population in the US are overweight or obese, majority from the low income populace. Once you know BMI, even subconsciously you start to take care of eating.

·         At Nirmal, from our logo to the toll-free phone no of 844-KNOW-BMI to the poster at the entrance, you can’t miss the message.

·         At the second stage of ‘disruptive eating’, our message is you don’t need meat for protein and there are so many options in Indian cuisine from the lentils to soya chunks to spinach to chickpeas. Incidentally Canada is the largest producer of the lentils.

·         Indian food is curry based and this plays a role in having 500 million vegetarians in India, almost 42% of the population. The curry contains plethora of beneficial spices and the base sauce. With the chicken or soya chunks, the curry dominates your taste buds.

·         If the 100 million people in the US skips meat once a week, there could be saving of 3.6 Billion pound of meat. The meat consumption alone accounts for 21% of the greenhouse gases, the main culprit for the global warming.

·         The global food security is tied to reduced meat consumption as well as the food wastage all around us. We discarded the buffet and put a unique 1-page menu to reduce the food wastage. We are the first Indian restaurant to introduce 8 Oz entrees.

Please read the link ~

·         We stopped using the Tandoor oven due to the higher energy consumption (used in 95% of Indian restaurants in the US) and discarded the naan (white flour bread) made in Tandoor oven. We give our patrons just one option, the whole wheat bread. Our poster blares~ Eat Healthy, Save Energy, Save our planet.

·         For the non-vegetarians, our message is ‘Eat Goat.’ Goat is healthier than even chicken and Goat is far better substitute for beef and pork in the long term. ‘Nirmal’ may be the only restaurant serving goat meat in Michigan. Goat meat consumption can reduce the greenhouse gases due to reduction in the pastures and grains needed for beef and pork.

·        Goat could be reared anywhere from the Himalayas to the sub-Saharan Africa. The popularity of the goat meat could impact the global economy in big way. It is called poor man’s cow and may provide the milk and the source of income to the poor.

·        At the third stage of ‘disruptive eating’, we aim to make Indian food affordable. We replaced the buffet with $5 Food box (5 items). This avoids the food wastage as well as the overeating, a constant complaint of our patrons for the buffet. 95% of Indian restaurants do buffet here in the US and only 2% in India.

·         We promote the ‘home cooking’ by sharing various recipes through the social media. The mothers, the bedrock of any family, have all important role to play here and the home cooking can bring the price of lunch or dinner by half. We plan to launch the free cooking classes at Nirmal during the summer.

·         The low income people are still stuck in the burgers, pizzas or tacos. We want them to make switch to the lentils, the whole wheat bread (roti) and the Basmati rice, all foods with low glycemic index and covers the protein and dietary fiber requirements. The low glycemic index foods play a role in the weight loss or control.

·         At the fourth stage, at Nirmal, our patrons get a sense of gratification. They use the bio-degradable products, they can skip the meat and/or can eat goat meat. In all respects, they contribute towards the reduction of the greenhouse gases.

·        We believe that the physical health is tied to the mental and spiritual health. Hence we share ‘Gita’ and ‘Yoga’ with our patrons, the 2 pillars of Indian spirituality. We want to expose the patrons to Indian culture along with Indian food. 

The restaurants have very high visibility in the US as the majority eat outside. We believe we can convey our message unobtrusively through Nirmal specially to the young generation. Imagine 500+ Nirmals all across the US. Once more and more people get the message and get convinced, the politicians would follow the suit.

We are actively looking for the like-minded people and the organizations to take this concept further by expanding the Nirmal franchise as well as publishing the book and video game or app on the 'disruptive eating.'