Mahi Priyanka Kolvekar, a vegan model who won India’s top model 2022 has had an extraordinarily powerful story. Being born and brought up in a small town of Karnataka, Hubli, she says, “I carry ultimate love for animals and have been bringing small kittens and dogs at my home since childhood to feed them.”
An out-and-about sporty kid who used to stay with her grandparents in a chawl, Mahi was always high on emotional quotient right from her juvenile stage and used to feed her lunch to stray animals without wasting a single bite. “I feed the unused food to homeless animals and have cultivated that habit over time. I can feel the pain and emotions of these animals because of the increased emotional empathy that I carry. Even while going out with my friends, I always teach people about the importance of serving food to street animals,” she elucidates.
Despite being a professional in mechanical engineering, Mahi wanted to become a voice for the voiceless and therefore she started rescuing animals from the street. Recalling the flashbacks from the past when she started asking the help of local autos and people strolling around to take injured animals to the hospital, “No one cared enough to offer a hand and sometimes even the autowallas don’t allow me to bring injured animals inside the cabs or cars. People used to beat me on the street just for feeding the animals or asking for help.” The joy she gets after helping animals, however, converted into an overwhelming task when people legally accused her. “Not even the police have ever supported me and they even told me to stop feeding animals if the people are getting distracted,” Mahi.
Mahi then decided to buy her own car and convert it into an ambulance to rescue homeless animals. “I used to do events in my early 20s as a part-time job and bought a car with whatever savings I did in my younger age to take injured animals to hospitals. Then, after realizing the non-availability of doctors and not getting enough support from the staff of many government hospitals I decided to learn veterinary services. I myself started practicing basic vet assistance training and there I learned everything right from the types of animal diseases, first aids to treatment and injections.”
Her journey was fraught with anxiousness as she had to overcome both physical, mental and emotional battles to help the voiceless animals “People literally laugh at me, they abuse me on my face but I realized that crying will not make any sense until I stand up and work on what I want. When you do something out-of-the-box, people will judge you, but you have to stand for the voiceless,” the belle said proudly.
Mahi is a certified professional in animal aid from an NGO for animals and animal aid in Udaipur, Rajasthan, and WVS HICKS INTERNATIONAL, Goa. “When I was studying, my family members used to taunt me a lot saying, focus on the studies, feeding the animals won’t take you anywhere. There used to be the same dispute every day in my home since we were not that financially strong nor did we have the place to keep the stray animals,” she reveals.
While most of us merely keep up with our emotional and mental state during the unprecedented time of COVID-19, Mahi has been helping animals in different regions, “The deaths of animals have raised to 3 lakhs during the period of the pandemic. I worked slowly towards animal safety at that time and used to give shelter to at least 9-10 stray animals at my home every day.” The gutsy gal has rescued over five hundred animals from nearby places including Hubli, Dharwad, and Gokarna in the last 5 years.
However, Mahi encountered a critical moment in her life when she started undergoing depression and anxiety after watching cruel slaughterhouse videos and the torture that dairy animals undergo. And that’s when she decided to turn into a vegan. Ella’s speaking of her vegan journey, she reveals, “the transition was extremely difficult as I was a meat consumer since birth. Although it’s been 7-8 years since my vegan journey began.
“I only use animal-free products and have been promoting a vegan lifestyle. I don’t want thousands of people to change, but people need to understand and walk with me to make society a better place. If the meat industry continues to serve people, a significant disaster will hit by 2050. Shifting to vegan replacements like vegan cheese, vegan pork, and vegan leather will make the world a better place where everyone has the chance to live without harming each other, Mahi adds.
She shares a quote that is truly the need of the hour “Every compassionate act makes the world a better and peaceful place to live’ She continues, “My only vision is to scratch out animal abuse which is something that encourages me to keep going all these years. Vegan food is just like satvik food that not only harms the environment, animals and surroundings but also improves my health a lot. I used to weigh 90kgs but veganism helped me in reducing pounds,” she smiles benevolently.
Mahi, who holds several beauty titles under her belt including Miss Mangalore 2012, Manappuram Miss South India 2014, and Miss Bharat Earth 2018 maintains a simple down-to-earth demeanour and aspires to fulfill her passion for fashion by representing India on an international level . “For a person there is always a passion, profession and mission that make them successful. My profession has always been helping the animals, my passion was always fashion and my mission is to make the world a better place,” she signs off.
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