Q&A: Is Varakh vegan?
There is something about Indian festivals that gets us all so excited. Especially when it comes to eating those festive laddoos or irresistible Kaju Katlis. We know that you can't have just one. What really makes these sweets attractive, royal and enticing is the silver plating or better known as Varakh, which is an ultra-thin sheet of silver which covers traditional sweets.
But if you look beyond the glitter of Varakh, into the places where it is produced and at the lives sacrificed in the process, you might want to change your decision during the next festival.
What is Varakh?
Silver foil or formally known as Varakh, is a thin delicate foil of very pure silver that is used for garnishing sweets. It adds to the attractiveness and glitter to mithai (sweets) and fruits. Apart from that, the silver-topped sweets are also served in temples as prasaads and in Ayurvedic medicines.
Varakh is surrounded by controversies and allegations of being made by animals and their crucial body parts. Well yes, we wouldn’t deny the fact that by and large, Varakh is made by pounding silver metal between two surfaces of animal tissue. Animals with tender skin are identified for slaughter (primarily sheep and baby goats) so that the epidermal layer of their skin can be used in the Varakh manufacturing process.
Around 12,000 of such animals with tender skin are slaughtered to produce 1 kilogram of Varakh on the beloved Kaju Katli. With an overall demand of around 30,000 kilo of Varakh, we can't even imagine the number of innocent lives being lost to satiate our sweet-tooth.
Some reports suggest an even deadlier way of producing the same foil is by using Ox guts. The intestine of an Ox, covered with blood and mucus, is pulled out after it is slaughtered and sold for the specific purpose. It is then washed and cleaned and placed between two sheets which are hammered all day long by the artisans.
In the process, the pounding leaves behind tissues from the animal’s skin and gut, blood and excreta on the varakh, which makes it non-vegan and absolutely unsuitable as an offering at places of worships. And we hope that it is not something you would wish for on an auspicious day.
Are there Vegan Varakhs?
Oh, yes! There definitely is one. Varakh produced by a Jaipur based company Kanishka, is cruelty-free and machine-made. The company provides to various other sweet shops in country. Inquire where your shops source varakh from. Suggest this vegan varakh to them.
Let our asking create an informed demand for cruelty-free varakh.
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