Table Talk with Varun Deshpande
Date: 23 January, 2021
Time: 21:00 IST
In India, contrary to some western belief, most of us aren’t vegetarian. True, our per capita consumption of animal protein is nowhere near as much as in some more developed economies, but there are a lot of us, so we wind up eating a fair amount between us. I’m a meat eater too, but not one with an untroubled conscience. I’ve tried over the years to reduce my consumption of meat, eating it maybe once or twice a week, but I like it too much to quit entirely.
So, a few years ago, when I was with The Hindu, I was intrigued when my friend Lynn de Souza forwarded some material to me from the Good Food Institute, which had begun operations in India, and suggested I meet up with them. I did, and I have followed their work since. GFI is an international network of non-profits that works towards sustainable ways of giving us our protein, allying with scientists, foundations, governments, entrepreneurs, and corporations.
Our guest this Sunday is Varun Desphande, MD of GFI Asia. Varun has been deeply immersed in healthcare and technology from a very young age, studied chemical and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, and has worked on implementing digital health in India and the USA.
We will talk, as we usually do on Table Talk, about formative food memories, and from there we will go on to his journey to GFI and why he chose this work to focus on and more about what GFI does. Along the way, we will learn about the two main streams in this field, lab-gown meat and plant-based meat substitutes, and what the latest developments are. We will chat for a couple of hours, more if Varun and you folks are amenable. And, as ever, there will be plenty of time for audience questions.
Table Talk is free to attend, but we ask our guests to name a charity or cause they support, and we ask those attending to make a donation to that cause, Varun has two choices, GFI itself — it is a non-profit, as I said above, and this is their donation page — and Fortify Health Foundation, which works on anaemia and neural tube defects in India, through flour fortification. You can find out how to donate via this page.
You will need to go to the Zoom link and register with a valid email address, after which you will get the link to join the event.
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