Lady behind Nepal’s first full vegan restaurant

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Samu Yonjan from Makwanpur never knew she would be the first to start a full vegan restaurant in Nepal. She along with her brother Shakti Yonjan had started the full vegan restaurant at Bouddha in Kathmandu. She has been a vegan since her childhood and has never ever tasted the non-veg dishes. Hence she has been a Buddhist by birth. And as a sincere disciple, it’s her duty to preach about the non-violence and show love towards the innocent creatures.
When asked about the flow of guests with the economic crisis due to worldwide Covid-19 outbreak, she cheerfully replies that they still have the guest flow. However, the flow has declined comparatively. Now a days, the otherwise bustling Thamel has been silent and vacant. But at the Z-street one can still find some tourists moving around. That is the place on the right hand side, where the ‘Loving Hearts’ vegan restaurant is located along the street.
She strongly believes that the world will end if the act of kindness ends from here. She has been married to Ishwor Rai and has two kids. Before the marriage, her husband was not a vegetarian; but slowly he too joined the campaign. The two kids are also vegan like her. She shared with us how her son looks for vegan tags at the super markets before buying the snacks or the biscuits. “They are very kind enough to share their lunch box with the street animals,” she shared with a big smile on her face. The mother is proud that her kids carry the empathy and are with her in her campaign. Her relatives had also helped her in the initiation.

“It’s not that how much profit we earn, we feel satisfied and happy to see the vegans guests enjoy their food and return back satisfied,” she reveals.
“In our childhood, we never had to share our mother’s milk with others; but the young ones of the innocent animals are killed for the same. It’s more heart breaking to see them being brutally killed before their mothers. The dairy industries have crossed the limits in their greed to collect more milk for their sole profit,” she says.
In their ‘Loving Hearts’ restaurant they make curd out of soya and don’t include dairy products too in the food items. Even the tea and coffee is made without using the milk. Mushroom is also used most in the vegan food preparation. It contains good amount of protein, Vitamin D and B12. Some of the food items taste like non-veg stuffs, but they are all purely vegan processed food.

The Loving Hearts Vegan Restaurant has been located at the Z-street in Thamel, since two years now. Earlier, they had the restaurant at Bouddha for 3 and half year. She had started the restaurant just before the earthquake of 2015. It had taken a good pick, but the devastating earthquake destroyed the business. She was about to shift the things. And one day Krishna Gurung, the president of Nepal Vegetarian Association, suggested her not to stop the business.Gurung was the one who helped her find the new location in Thamel. Later he also joined them as a partner and now work together. The 46 years old lady is always cheerful, thinking that there may not be much profit; but her their service has satisfied and brought a smile on many faces.
“In Europe there has been a big campaign in about going vegan. And when some of them come here in Nepal, it’s very difficult for them. I had seen many crying, because they don’t get what they want to eat. And as per their principles they cannot take food at any restaurant serving animal flesh.
When ‘the walker’ team asked her whether she gets the proper required nutrition for her body; she quickly responded that she is always energetic and has never felt the weakness. Moreover, she told that it not necessary to rob the energy of the innocent animals at the cause of their lives.
She doesn’t like the commercialism in the service industry. “Guests are like our God and they deserve kindness and humbleness along with warmth,” she exclaims. At the same time she feels proud to see the way the women tempo drivers carry themselves becoming economically independent. “Women are the strength of the society and should be encouraged to move ahead on the path of independence,” she concludes !