Have you ever been vegan-curious?
Have you ever wondered about the benefits of being vegan?
This week, Kathryn has Susmitha Veganosaurus on the podcast.
In this episode, Kathryn and Susmitha dive into veganism, meditation, podcasting, and more.
BONUS #1: Use the code “IMPERFECTTHRIVING” and get free access to Susmitha’s Ignite Your Joy course for 15 days for free!
BONUS #2: Get 20% off Susmitha’s Vegan Immersion Experience course with the code “KATHRYN20”
Meet Susmitha Veganosaurus
Susmitha Veganosaurus is a vegan chef, podcaster, meditation guide, artist, holistic business coach and multi-passionate entrepreneur.
She runs Carrots, India’s first vegan restaurant, bakery, and culinary academy. And she’s the host of The Feel Good Factor, a podcast about making happiness your highest priority.
Susmitha mentors and coaches vegan women entrepreneurs and helps them grow their business in a joyful way, with a focus on self-care and a mindset of abundance.
In This Podcast
- Her vegan journey
- The benefits she noticed
- Her life’s motto
- Advice for first time vegans
- Her meditation practice
Her vegan journey
Susmitha has been vegan since 2003, but prior to that she was vegetarian all of her life. It was more cultural than ethical for Susmitha, who grew up in South India where yogurt is a staple. Once Susmitha became aware of what happens in the livestock industry, it was impossible for her to ignore. She decided to become an ethical vegan.
It wasn’t until a year into her vegan journey that she started to notice the benefits and positive experiences it brought to her life.
The benefits she noticed
Growing up, Susmitha was told that if she drank cow’s milk, she’d have beautiful hair. So every night before bed, she would do just that. She would also constantly be sick with a cough or a cold, which she chalked up to the air pollution. A year into her veganism, she noticed the colds went away. Thinking it was because she lived elsewhere, she returned to Bangalore where she had initially felt symptoms, only to find the cough didn’t follow.
She’s also lost weight seemingly effortlessly without changing much else about her lifestyle. Susmitha also attributes cutting all animal products to her increased energy and vibrancy. She’s also able to meditate longer and more intently.
Her life’s motto
We all need to follow what brings us joy and do that. Not worry about what others think or what others say. To not get bogged down with the thoughts of “Will I succeed?”
If something lights you up from within, then try it out and follow it fearlessly. And I do believe in the universe is greater power where there is a plan and you will be supported in whatever you do for however long it’s meant to happen.
Advice for first time vegans
The first step is a mind shift change. It’s deciding this isn’t all or nothing, giving up, or deprivation. Approach it from a point of curiosity, interest, and an open mind. The try it for a month, and be strict. Note the difference in energy levels, health, or what other changes that might come up. There isn’t a wrong or right way of doing it. Susmitha recommends being strict for the first month because of dairy’s addictive properties.
Recognize that there is nothing in the world you can’t live without. You can if you make up your mind and you can live happily and joyfully without it.
She also suggests connecting with other vegans or transitioning vegans. Community and a support system can help because while it’s easy to find alternatives, recipes, and resources online, people around you can help with questions or guidance.
Her meditation practice
Meditation allows Susmitha to still her mind to a large extent. Whatever stress that she had been feeling melts away through meditation. It gives her clarity to take the next steps.
More than anything else, it fills her with hope. That there is a purpose and she’s on the right path. Especially after a year like 2020, it’s easy to get into the cycle of questioning and of self-doubt.
Meditating helps Susmitha acknowledge the thoughts and then gently let them go.
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Susmitha, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have you here all the way from India.
Hi Kathryn. I’m so happy to be here too.
So I really want to start with your vegan journey. I have to confess I am a meat lover, but I’m always open to change and I really want to hear about your journey.
Sure. So I’ve been vegan since 2003. Before that I’ve grown up vegetarian all my life, but that wasn’t an ethical choice.
It was just a cultural thing. A lot of people who are in India, they grew up vegetarian and that’s how I was. I used to consume a lot of dairy products, milk and yogurt. Especially yogurt is a big part of our South Indian diet. We are very attached to it and a lot of dairy.
When I found out about what happens in the dairy industry I realized I didn’t want to support it anymore because every mammal who has to produce milk, she has to give birth. So it’s not like the olden days where they would allow the cows to naturally give birth and then take the milk.
It became more like they would forcefully impregnate the cow to meet the demands of the dairy consumption and a lot more of these things. And then I found out about it. I decided to become an ethical vegan. Of course, when I heard the term and when people told me about it, I was like, I don’t want to know.
Don’t tell me. I love milk. I’m never going to give it up. But yeah, after a point I kind of opened myself to become more aware of what happens in the livestock industry. And that was it for me. Once you become aware it’s kind of, no going back from there. done.
After I turned vegan, like a year down the line, is when I found out about all the bonus benefits. Like the benefits to my health, the benefits to my spiritual journey, I could meditate better, do Reiki better, all of it. So these things I didn’t know about when I started out, I just thought it would be okay.
I’m just going to have stop having animal products and I’m going to be vegan and that’s about it, but it just changed my life. Entirely. It was such a positive experience.
I really want to dig into that a little bit. So I love how you began your vegan journey because of what you value because of your ethics.
And then later you realize the sort of benefits that you get are multifaceted. Tell me a little bit more about the benefits you noticed in your health.
Sure so growing up I was told that if you drink cow’s milk, it’s got calcium, so you get better hair and all those things. Every night before bed, I would drink a glass of milk and go to sleep. And I got quite addicted to dairy because it does have addictive properties.
I still love plain milk too, and then drink a lot of it and go to bed. And I used to constantly fall sick with a cough. Cold. All the time, sniffling. And I did not relate this to dairy because I just thought the pollution. I was riding around in a bike. I just thought that’s what it was.
After I turn vegan, it took me a year. I was living elsewhere. So I was in a slightly less polluted place. I wasn’t going out as much. I initially thought, Oh, it’s because of that all my cold and cough, everything stopped. And then when I came back home to Bangalore it just didn’t come back.
And I connected it and I was like, Oh, I see it’s because I’ve stopped animal products that I’m not falling sick as much as I used to anymore. And that was one thing. The other is I gained a few vanity pounds.Weight gain, weight loss, a few pounds here and there don’t bother me so much, but I had gained them.
And after I turned vegan, they just dropped. I was able to become a lot fitter without really doing too much in terms of exercise or anything like that. Like naturally became more suited to what my body type is. And finally, I started getting a lot of energy. Generally I’m an energetic person, but I think cutting out dairy, cutting out all animal products that helped me just become so much more vibrant.
That is exciting. And now that you say that about dairy, I’m thinking the same thing about myself. I eat very little dairy. I’m not vegan, but I don’t drink regular milk. I drink almond milk and I really eat very little dairy. A little bit of cheese every now. I used to get sinus infections all the time, like once a month and I don’t get them at all anymore.
Dairy is quite dangerous. A lot of people realize that so it makes a world of difference. Even though you’re not vegan, cutting down the dairy, that does make a huge difference in terms of health and in terms of for the animals, for the environment, all these things.
That too. Yes, definitely. So you’ve told me that milk, dairy, yogurt is really a big part of your culture and what most people eat in India. What is it like to be vegan in India?
The thing is growing up in a tropical country. Most of our food, even the people who eat meat, it’s never meat heavy.
It’s lots of vegetables. We do a lot of rice and other grains, and we do a lot of pulses like lentils and chickpeas and things like that. These are big part of food for all of our traditional cooking. Especially in the South where I’m from, we’re not dairy dependent.
It’s just that people like to add a bit of dairy. Add some yogurt on the side of the food if it’s too spicy. We have something called curd rice, which is basically rice mixed with yogurt and a little bit of salt. And that is something that culturally, we end the meal with. Especially our lunch.
Going vegan is really easy because it’s not because of the alternatives that I’ll come to, but because even if you just stop having dairy, you can still get plenty of food to eat. And we have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Lots available quite easily growing here. So that made it easy for me to be vegan in India.
But of course, because I love milk and yogurt and ice cream and these kinds of things, the moment I turned vegan, I started looking into alternatives. And back then it wasn’t so…soy milk was in the market, but other milks, not so much. Not so commonly available. So I started making everything for myself. I make all the dairy alternatives from scratch at home. I know exactly what goes into it.
Again I feel like that keeps me healthier because I’m choosing this clean, pure ingredients and making them yeah.
I love that. Instead of having that all or nothing attitude of, well, I can’t have dairy. Oh, well. You’ve found ways to enjoy what you used to enjoy about the dairy without it. I love that.
Yes when people ask me what advice I could give to new vegans, I always tell them. Use alternatives. Don’t just give up because veganism is not about just giving up. It’s about, I found more joy after going vegan. One of the reasons is because I found more varieties of foods.
Instead of one cow’s milk, or maybe Buffalo’s milk, I get to have maybe 20 or 30 varieties of dairy alternatives. The variety in my life just increased.
Yes, we can always find their way if we want to. And we put a little mindfulness and intention to it. Speaking of fruits and vegetables, I love the name of your restaurant Carrots. I want to know a little bit behind the story behind the name.
And tell me a little bit more about your restaurant.
Sure. So Carrots was India’s first vegan restaurant. It was started in 2013 by this guy called Krishna. I didn’t start it. I started out going there as a very, very enthusiastic, regular guest.
And I would be like talking about them everywhere because the very first vegan restaurant in India and it’s in my hometown. So I was very, very supportive of them. I would go teach them recipes and I had a great connection with their team. So later in the year after the restaurant was started, Krishna asked me if I would like to join the team and become a part of it.
And because of my my interest in recipes and cooking and things like that, I was like, yeah, sure. Let me do that. And within a couple of months, I was like, this is home. And then I invested and became a partner and I took it over and started running things gradually.
Carrots, the name, is when Krishna started the place he was looking for something that is cute, sharp, easy to recall. Then the two carrots form a V. So our logo, V for vegan. The logo carrots crisscrossed with each other. That look like a V. So it was a simple idea behind the name of the restaurant.
We are not just a restaurant. The restaurant is how it started off, but it’s more of a movement, more of a place, a hub for vegans from across the city, as well as across the country to come to us, learn from us, grow. We teach a lot of cooking and baking. The culinary training is a big part of our restaurant. We make everything from scratch in-house whether it’s baking, whether it’s dairy alternatives, whatever it is. So we have a lot of knowledge, which we like sharing to people so that they are empowered.
When somebody starts a new vegan business, we are always there to support them. We kind of act like a launch pad if somebody needs the that. These are just a few of the many things that the whole Carrots restaurant movement is about. But unfortunately now the pandemic really, really effected us. The business, just like most other small businesses.
And we unfortunately we’ll have to close down soon.
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Yeah, the pandemic has hit so many people hard, especially when it comes to restaurants in the service industry. But you are clearly a multi-passionate entrepreneur. So I know that you will have something else in the works soon.
I’ve noticed through multiple conversations with you what I absolutely love about you is that there is passion and purpose behind everything you do. And you do not just talk a good talk. You walk a good walk and you put your action in the direction of what is important to you. This is not a question that I’ve ever asked any other guests, but I feel like you are the perfect guest to ask this.
Do you have a general philosophy about life? Or a motto that you kind of live by?
Well, see, this is something that I have also learned over the years, but especially in the past two to three years, it’s gotten really strong in me. I believe that we all need to follow what brings us joy and do that.
And not really worry about what others think. What others say. Will I succeed? Will I not all these things. If something lights you up from within, then try it out and follow it fearlessly. And I do believe in the universe is greater power where, there is a plan and you will be supported in whatever you do for however long it’s meant to happen.
Well, I really love that. Because if what you’re doing brings you joy, then you are successful.
What is important right than actually enjoying your life. That to me is the definition of success. That hasn’t always been my definition of success, but it definitely is now. So I could not agree more.
So I wanted to follow up a little bit and get your favorite dairy alternatives that you like to use in your different recipes?
So usually for my tea every day, I make a cashew based milk at home. And it’s either with just cashews or sometimes I add some flaxseed or sesame seeds. It’s not a very particular thing. I just go with the flow, what I feel like doing.
And then I grind up the cashews and then make the milk. It’s really simple to do that. Cashew milk is very versatile. It can be used in desserts or any kind of cooking, like say if you’re making pasta sauce and things like that. Cashew is quite versatile and it goes great with tea. And then, in here, again in the South of India, we use a lot of coconut in our cooking.
So coconut milk is nothing new to us. It’s just something that’s been a part of some of the dishes that we make. So I like having coffee with coconut milk and I like my favorite yogurt. I have a variety of them that I tried, but my favorite is the one made with peanuts. You can make yogurt out of peanuts.
And the first time I discovered that I was like whaaat, it was mind blowing to me. These are just some of the dairy alternatives I use.
Yeah. I’m glad you shared that with us. Cause I’m going “what” too like, I’d never would have thought of that. So that’s great.
Kathryn, I teach online dairy alternatives classes. So if you’d ever like to take it from me, I’d be happy to teach you.
Oh, that’s so fun. Yes. I’ll definitely have to look into that. So following along those lines, what advice do you have for a listener who might be considering going vegan?
Well to start with, like I said, don’t look at it as a giving up or a deprivation. It’s actually going to make your life just so much better and joyful if you approach it from a point of curiosity and interest and an open mind.
Try it for a month. Very strictly go vegan for a month. Then see for yourself the kind of difference that it makes in your energy levels and your health, all these things. And the reason I say many people do it, they take different approaches to going vegan. There is no right or wrong way of doing it.
Some people just gradually eliminate animal products and then they go vegan. But the reason I recommend this strict following it for a month at least is because like I said, dairy has addictive properties. Some of the other animal products have certain other effects on your body. When you completely cut it out of your system, you are also detoxing yourself off that addiction.
A lot of us think this is not just for when it comes to veganism or food, but generally in life, a lot of us believe there are certain things we like we are used to, and we think that we can never live without it. And there is nothing in the world that you can’t live without.
You can, if you make up your mind, you not only can you live without it, you can live happily joyfully without it.
Right. If you let go of that limiting belief that you just can’t do it, you might be able to do it.
Absolutely, of course. I also suggest connect with other vegans or transitioning vegans. The community and a support system around you helps a lot because as vegans, it’s easy to find alternatives, recipes online, and all these things, but more than anything else, it’s the people around you. The kind of questions that you might be asked. There are chances that some family members may be supportive.
In some cases, there will be a severe lack of support. So then when you have other people who are on a similar journey to be able to go through that very easily.
Oh, I completely agree. The relationships we have and the people that we spend time with greatly affect our behavior. And if the people that we’re around aren’t supporting these new habits, it makes it so much more difficult to actually follow through and make those your habits.
I’m intrigued by your term, conscious entrepreneurship. Will you explain that to me?
Yes. I believe being a conscious entrepreneur is the future. Because we can’t just be getting about us or our own business anymore. We have to look at it from a wholesome perspective. Whatever work you do, whatever product you create, whatever service you give, whatever it is.
Always look at how it is helping the world, helping others, and uplifting the vibrations of the world overall. See how you can keep on tweaking and keep on improving to make it better and better and better for everyone else around you. Which of course you have to be conscious about loving yourself, charging your self worth all those things.
Yes, absolutely. But it should go beyond that. It should go beyond just your business. Because then it doesn’t matter how long your business or whatever it is, your project can last. Even if it disappears one day, you can still be satisfied because you have created these positive ripples across the world.
Yes, that is beautifully put. None of us live in a vacuum, all of our behaviors and everything that we put out in the world affects someone else. It might be a few people, it might be a lot of people, but we do need to keep that in mind that what we do affects other people. I really love that term and your definition of it.
You told me earlier that veganism has even helped you spiritually. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Yes, absolutely. So I’ve been on the spiritual path from quite a young age. While I was in 11th grade, I discovered Reiki. Even before that, I was always curious about these things, which are not very scientifically explainable, right?
So, you know, metaphysics and things like that. And I always believe there’s a greater power watching over us, supporting us, helping us. I just didn’t have a definition for it. And I knew it wasn’t, whatever religions were teaching. Yes. There was some definitely some powerful meaning to it, but it was still limited.
I believed it was a lot more than just religious rules and things like that. So, when I turned vegan, I started realizing that I was able to focus more whenever I meditated. And even whenever I did Reiki or other practices, I could feel more in tune with it, like a higher, like as if my vibrations just went up higher.
And I believe this is because, again, it comes back to the kind of practices that are happening in the livestock industry. I feel like if something comes from fear and pain and that much sorrow, and then you’re just taking that and putting it into your body, it does pull you down, it does bring your vibrations down.
And then you have to work twice as much to be more positive and to be more uplifted. So I’m not saying you can’t be spiritual if you’re not vegan. But I do feel that if you go vegan, it just goes hand in hand with the spiritual path and it just going to make it so much more easier for you to rise up and grow.
Yeah. I love that. What, so you have a meditation practice, right?
Yeah, it’s nothing. I don’t follow any one specific kind of meditation practice. These days earlier it used to be more of a listening to guided meditations. In the more recent years I’ve started to just meditate silently, just focus on my breath.
And so how long do you meditate and do you meditate every day?
No I don’t have a fixed routine like this. It’s not something that I have to do. It’s more of it, just a part of my life. Whenever I feel like it’s like drinking water. If I feel thirsty, I’ll drink water. It’s the same way. If I feel like, okay, I need to meditate right now, I sit down and do it.
I’m not as disciplined as I probably should be, because I know that just with what I do, this much of a benefit happens in my life. Then if I actually do it in a disciplined way there will be a lot more benefits, but I don’t want to do it like, something for chore or, Oh, I have to do this.
It’s something that I take pleasure and joy. It can go two to three minutes to half an hour or one hour, even if I feel really, really in tune with it.
So really what I’m hearing is you pay attention to your body in your mind and you know, when you need it.
And so what have you found the benefits of meditation to be for you?
I think, especially after getting into social media and smartphones and these things that have come up, which really take up a lot of your mental space. Most of your days is going into this. You have all these different thoughts and distractions and so many things that come up.
When I cut off and meditate, I’m able to still my mind to quite a large extent. That helps because then whatever stress or anything that I’m feeling, I’m able to kind of let that go through meditation. And that gives me clarity to take the next steps.
More than anything else, I think in one line, if I have to say, it fills me with hope. That yes, there is a purpose and this is meant to be, you’re going on the right path because otherwise it’s very easy to get into this, especially with the kind of year we went to last year.
Get into this cycle of questioning, like what does it all, what does it mean? Why am I even doing anything? Why are we even bothering. These kinds of questions do come up and I think meditating helps me kind of get over these kinds of thoughts.
There’s so much noise in the world and so much going on all of the time. It is so easy to get caught up in our minds with worry about it and worry about things that we can’t control.
I think we do need to listen to our hearts and listen to our bodies more. And to do that, you really do just have to tune out all of that noise. I could not agree more. So I know that you have a podcast because I have been honored to be a guest on that podcast called the feel-good factor.
So tell me a little bit about how you got started in podcasting and what your podcast is about.
Sure. So a couple of years ago I think somewhere in the middle of 2018. I was listening randomly to podcasts before that, but I found the one most inspirational podcast for me, which I really resonated with, which is Alison Melody’s Food Hills.
And when I listened to that podcast, that specific episode, it was like, it was meant for me. It was an episode where a bunch of really awesome entrepreneurs. These ladies, they were talking about spirituality and entrepreneurship and how, you can manifest things and abundance and success and all these things, and many benefits of spirituality in business and things like that.
I actually was led to the podcast because I was following a chef who was doing the kind of work that I someday aimed to do. And that’s how I discovered the podcast.I think it goes maybe 45 minutes and hour long. I don’t remember the length of the episode.
But as I was listening to it, I felt like my whole world opening up, I felt like there’s so much potential that I can tap into. It just inspired me. So initially I was just listening to it, but that is where the seed got planted. I’m like, okay, one day I have to meet Alison one day. I have to do this.
And I managed it. Within a year of me listening to that podcast, I was actually on their food deals, Italy retreat. I was meeting Alison and Leslie and things like that. It was just amazing to be able to do that. So yeah, it was almost unreal for me that things just fell into place and I money if I stirred it.
Then meeting them in person, meeting Allie in person, kind of cemented that idea more strongly in me that, okay, I have to do a podcast. Now, the feel good factor, it aligns with the philosophy I was talking about with you about following your joy, about making your happiness your highest priority.
That’s all the podcast is about. I interview people like yourself, who have something motivating, positive, uplifting to share with the world. Some kind of really good advice that will help my listeners take some good actions, make some positive changes. And I also have some solo talks.
I also record meditations as a part of the podcast. So it’s a mix and match of my couple things now. I could have easily done a podcast about veganism because that is my area of authority and I like talking about it. But I was doing so much content about veganism already. I have a YouTube channel and my Instagram, I was sharing recipes.
Talking about it. So I’m like, okay, I have to do something a little bit different here. Yes, veganism keeps coming into it because that’s a big part of who I am, but I didn’t want it to be focused only on that. I wanted it to be focused on the larger picture.Through my business, I was learning how I was prioritizing other people at the things, workaholic, all these things.
And through that, I was learning so many lessons about how you can be a happier entrepreneur. So, that again made me realize, okay, I have to talk about happiness on the podcast.
Well, I cannot recommend a podcast more than yours. I mean, everyone you are experiencing Susmitha’s incredible positive energy. And she brings it all the time. 24/7. I just love it. It’s absolutely infectious. I know that you came with the gift for our listeners today. Will you tell, tell us about it?
Yes. So I have a course called the vegan immersion experience and I would like to offer your listeners 20% off on it, if they would like. The courses again, it’s a three-pronged approach.
It’a an approach to veganism. Yes, of course. How to be vegan. So once you want to do it once, you know what it means, if you decide, okay, I want to go vegan, but I don’t know how to go about it. This is a course for you. So the course has a mind, body, spirit approach. For the body, it’s the recipes I’ve taught recipes or have shared tips about food and tips about alternatives.
Like, okay, if you’re using like the dairy alternatives I was talking about or say, if you’re using eggs in your baking, what do you replace it with? And some hacks and things like that. Plus a few of my favorite recipes, which I’ve recorded on video.
Then for the mind, I have shared a lot of mindset techniques. Because these are things again, I have learned over the years it’s not just about being vegan, but it’s about actually being happy and joyful. And spreading that out into the world. So how slight shifts in your mindset can actually make this journey more frictionless for you.
And then finally for the spirit, I have meditations that have spiritually aligned technique, like affirmations and so forth.
So this is what the vegan immersion experience is all about. It’s a one month course. I’ve given a course to Kathryn and when you use that, you’ll get 20% off.
Oh, thank you so much for that. That sounds amazing. And I will definitely include the information in the show notes, so everyone knows exactly where to go to get it.
So besides your vegan immersion experience, where can we learn more about you and what you offer online?
Sure, you will find all the information on my website, which is v Veganosaurus.com. That’s my website and all the different thing I do. All my passions, everything about me I’ve shared on there.
I’m most active on Instagram and social media. I’m not on Facebook. So you can connect with me there @ Veganosaurus again.
Okay. We will definitely do that. And I will include all that in the show notes as well. So I like to wind up every podcast by asking my guests the same question, which is what is one imperfect action you suggest we all take today to get closer to our best lives.
As we have started a new year, we need a fresh start. We need to attract new things. What I’d like to say is focus on letting go. Now just because we are committed to something and just because we have poured many years or time, a life passion into something, it doesn’t mean that you always have to stay committed to it.
You have to hold on to it, no matter what. That is what we all believe. We think that, okay, I put everything into this relationship or this business or this project, and whether it brings you joy or not, whether it is easy or a struggle, I have to stick with this. And you don’t have to stick with it. If it’s a struggle, if it’s not bringing you happiness, if it’s causing more stress than the joyfulness, then let it go.
Because that’s when you create space for new things in your life, which are made for you for your higher growth.
Okay. So I absolutely second that motion. And I promised that I did not ask Susmitha to say that, but it leads me straight into a pitch for the rest of the episodes this month and past episodes.
So I love that we just finished a series about decluttering our lives. We focused on closets, relationships environment, minds, and calendars. So if y’all missed any of those episodes, just go back and catch up to the rest of us, because it is about letting go of what does not serve your purpose.
What does not set you up for the life you want and does not bring you joy. So I completely agree Susmitha and I appreciate you being on the show today. I’ve had so much fun talking with you.
Thank you so much, Kathryn. I’m looking forward to listening to all those episodes too. I think we need more and more of that out there right now.
Thank you so much for having me here. It was a pleasure.
Well, I hope we can talk again soon.