Letters

2007 VRG Scholarship Recipient Graduates,Looks Forward to Nutrition Career

I want to thank The VRG, as well as those who make their scholarship fund possible.

I was a 2007 recipient and graduated with my bachelor of science in nutrition in May! This fall, I will be a dietetic intern at Cedar Crest College, and I am sitting for the exam to become a registered dietitian next May. Also, I will be presenting on vegetarian/vegan nutrition at Bethlehem VegFest, providing information from the American Dietetic Association and, of course, The VRG.

Thank you again for helping me make my dreams a reality! Nora, via e-mail

Note:Read about the 2011 VRG Scholarship winners on page 16. The deadline for the next scholarship contest is February 20, 2012.

Thanks for Writing Simply Vegan!

I just wanted to say “Thanks!” to Debra Wasserman. I became vegan when I was in high school, and my first official vegan cookbook was Simply Vegan! I’m now 33, and I have a vegan wife and two lil’ vegan kiddos! Thanks, Debra! Chris, via e-mail

Note:More than 90,000 copies of Simply Vegan have been sold. Readers can order the fourth edition using the form on page 34 or online at www.vrg.org/catalog.

Naan Served in the U.S. and India Is Seldom Vegan In response to “Nutrition Hotline” in Issue 2, 2011, of VJ:

I was reading Vegetarian Journal and felt compelled to write because of info from your “Nutrition Hotline.” It is mentioned that naan is usually vegan. I think this may be misleading.

I was in India two times— first for two weeks, then for two months. Both times, I found it hard to be a vegan because milk and yogurt are added to so many foods. The first time, I did eat the naan because a waiter said it did not have dairy in it. (Now, I think that was a misunderstanding or a willingness to please.) Since then, I have found that it usually does have dairy in it and avoided it my second time there. I have tried to buy it here in stores like Whole Foods, and it always has milk in it.

I have run into the same thing in Indian restaurants in the U.S. I was at a wedding at a nice restaurant in California a couple of years ago and asked them. The waiter assured me the naan was not made with milk, so I decided to go talk to the cooks who were outside cooking the naan in barrels. They said that their batter did have milk in it. I just do not eat naan now.

When I was in India, I was working for a company that was owned by an Indian-American and employed many people from India. When I asked them about it, they said as far as they knew, naan was usually made with milk. Maybe the preference for naan made with yogurt, milk, or water is regional, but I am not sure.
Michelle, via e-mail

I just read your answer to a “Nutrition Hotline” question about Indian bread on page 23 of Issue 2, 2011.

As someone who has lived in India and has been vegan for three years (on top of being vegetarian for 20), I have to inform you that naan is not vegan. In fact, it almost always contains yogurt. Even store-bought, prepackaged naan (like those sold at Whole Foods) contain dairy. Roti, on the other hand, is almost always vegan, as it is made with water, atta flour, and a little oil. Also, be aware of keema naan, which has meat in it.

You reversed naan and roti. But as noted in the column, good vegans always ask if animal products are included in their food.

You should do a recipe special listing some Indian recipes; they are easy to make and extremely flavorful.

Thank you for all your publication does to promote the vegan lifestyle. :)

Frank, via e-mail

Note: The author of the “Nutrition Hotline” said the readers have valid points that naan does sometimes contain animal products. She said, “In my experience, when I went to Indian restaurants, I have been told almost 100 percent of the time that naan does not contain dairy/egg if it is not brushed with ghee/butter. Certainly, you should ask the waitstaff, but as examples above illustrate, this isn’t a certainty either.”

VRG asked the opinion of Saurabh Dalal, a longtime vegan Jain who is active with the Vegetarian Society of D.C. and the International Vegetarian Union. He said, “I usually do not eat naan because I assume it has dairy in it. In the U.S., I believe many Indian restaurants also use eggs, which would likely not be the case in India. I would not say naan is usually vegan. Often, the roti or puri is vegan, ... but it’s still good to ask the waitstaff if there is any milk/dairy, egg, or even butter or ghee put on top.”

In a Punjabi store in Baltimore, we did find naan that was labeled 100 percent vegetarian, parve, and halal. It shouldn’t have dairy if parve, and there are no obvious eggs on the ingredients label. It does contain cane sugar and l-cysteine. This product was distributed by Kontos Foods and labeled as Alexander’s Great Flatbreads. They have several varieties of naan. For more information about these products, see 208.64.161.54/kontos/Pages/products_flatbread.lasso?markets=foodservice

For information about calcium content in the vegan versions of popular Indian dishes, see www.vrg.org/ journal/vj2009issue4/2009_issue4_calcium_indian.php.