Introducing MADE SAFE® Certified products from Ahimsa, along with our Q&A with the company's Founder and CEO, Dr. Manasa Mantravadi.
Ahimsa strives to provide families with alternative mealtime solutions to the toxic option of plastic dishware. Growing up in an Indian immigrant household, her family, like many Indian families, would eat their meals using steel plates and cups. Drawing from her background, she found the inspiration for the solution to toxic children’s food ware: stainless steel dishware.
Why are you proud of your MADE SAFE® Certification?
As a brand owner, I am proud of my MADE SAFE certification because it demonstrates that my products have been thoroughly vetted to be made without known harmful chemicals. This not only helps to protect the health and wellbeing of my customers, but it also sets my brand apart as one that prioritizes safety and transparency. It is the reason I started this company as a pediatrician! It gives parents who are looking for safe children’s products peace of mind because of the trust that comes from vigorous third-party testing and science-based certification standards. Overall, our MADE SAFE certification is a symbol of our commitment to creating safe, high-quality products that are good for both people and the planet.
Why is it important to have third-party validation for your products?
As a scientist - and now brand owner - I understand the importance of rigorous testing and validation for my products. Third-party validation, such as MADE SAFE certification, provides an independent assessment of the safety and effectiveness of my products. This helps to ensure that my claims about the safety of my products are accurate, and that my products meet the highest standards of quality. Unfortunately, we live in a world of misinformation and false claims, thus third-party validation helps customers identify credible brands.
In addition, having third-party validation helps me stay up-to-date with the latest scientific research and industry standards. It even helps me to think of new ways for us to be industry leaders in quality and safety for products that hit the family dining table.
Why did you start your company?
When I first introduced solids to my twins, I fed them from plastic bowls and with plastic spoons. My mother was horrified by this, as she had concerns about the chemicals in plastic transferring into her grandchildren’s food. So, one day while I was at work, she replaced all of my plastic with traditional Indian stainless steel. Like many Indians, I grew up eating and drinking with steel plates and cups at our family dining table. Five years later, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warned parents about plastic’s harmful effect on children’s hormones, growth, and development. My mom’s instinct was backed by science!
As a pediatrician I had access to the knowledge, and as an Indian immigrant I had the solution for my three young kids – but I realized that almost every American mother did not. If you walk down the aisle of any store you will see mostly plastic feeding products for babies and kids. I wanted to bridge the gap between what science was saying and what the industry was offering.
My job as a pediatrician is to advocate for kids, so I felt compelled to start a company that is rooted in science to keep harmful chemicals off the dining table. On my journey, however, I quickly understood the laxity of regulation for many food-related products. Today, there are more than 10,000 additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many were carried over from the 1950s, and several have no research showing they are safe for people to eat or drink. So, I set out to work with scientists, physicians, legislators, and environmentalists to set a new standard for children’s products.
From avoiding plastic in our products and packaging to using a coloring process that avoided toxic-run off, to intentionally designing tableware that excites kids to eat healthy at a young age, I wanted each step to mean something for children and Mother Earth. After all, people and the planet are connected, and the lasting impact between the two will be felt not by us, but by our children. Ahimsa is not just a business to me – it’s a chance to change the system, change our thinking, and take actionable steps to make a positive impact on the world.
Why are your products different from other, more conventional, products in the space?
The commitment we have to safety is based on my own medical background, but also with the guidance of our science advisory council – made up of the world’s leading scientists and experts in toxicology, environmental health, and nutrition. There is no other brand on the market in the children’s feeding space that has the same caliber of scientists (who are literally writing the national and global guidelines for doctors) advising them on how to keep their products the safest around. In fact, we will happily hand over our lab reports done on our products because we feel so confident in our quality and safety.
In addition to providing that degree of trust and transparency for our products, we also have the most intentionally designed products on the market. Every aspect of Ahimsa products is built with real pediatric knowledge of growth, development, and nutritional needs based on my years of experience as a practicing pediatrician. We’ve essentially created roadmaps with our products for families to eat healthier and create healthy habits at a young age – ultimately creating lasting positive effects for kids when they grow into adults.
What’s the one thing you would never do as a maker of better products?
I would never sacrifice the quality and safety of our products, fair trade practices for our workers, or our commitment to keeping every part of our process safe for the planet. People and the planet are the heart and souls of Ahimsa. From the tiniest customers, to our workers across the world, to the lands they live in – I would never sacrifice the health and safety of any person or our one and only Mother Earth. After all, Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning “avoiding harm.” I wanted to create a company that avoided harm for children’s health and for our planet.
What do you wish shoppers thought about more, and why?
I wish shoppers knew how powerful their purchasing decision really is – well beyond what they buy for their home. You truly speak with your wallet. So, when you support brands who are providing the best safety or supporting the workers that make those products in a fair and equitable way, you are voting for something. And if more and more consumers vote for the cleaner, greener, fair-trade companies, it will force better oversight and regulation of all companies that bring products into your home. The goal is to not have brands with “better” products – we should just all be doing what is right for people and the planet as companies because otherwise … what are we really doing?
What’s the one product in your line you can’t live without, and why?
Our Balanced Bites Plates. My children, husband and I eat from these for every meal. It keeps me honest as a mom because I see the compartments and they remind me to ask myself “did you serve age-appropriate sized portions and a solid variety of food to your family?” And if I forgot a food group, the children point it out! I get asked all the time about what I did to get my kids to eat so healthy. It’s truly because I started these healthy eating habits at a young age and they just stuck. I don’t force them – they just quite honestly don’t know any different!
A close second is our Smart Snacking Bowls because, while we are healthy eaters, it’s important to also have a healthy relationship with junk food. Our smart snacking bowls help teach that to families! It’s all about age-appropriate portion sizes and making junk the exception to the rule rather than making it the norm.
What have you done to make your life healthier (i.e., do you meditate daily, practice mindfulness, yoga, walk, etc.), and why?
In a world of Zoom for the past few years, I have found that taking a few minutes at the very least to walk outside and get some fresh air and sunshine does wonders for my brain and mood. Another one is deep breathing (5 seconds in and 5 seconds out for 5 cycles) when I wake up and right before bed, which helps me feel balanced. I even do it with my kids, and have noticed that this short little daily practice has made a huge difference in everyone’s moods at wake-up and bedtime!
Thanks to Dr. Manasa Mantravadi for helping us introduce Ahimsa to the MADE SAFE community.
Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician and the founder of Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dinnerware for kids. She is also an Indian immigrant, a mom of three young kids, and a passionate advocate for children's health and environmental sustainability. As a pediatrician, Dr. Mantravadi was deeply concerned about the growing evidence of chemicals in plastic harming children's health, and as an Indian immigrant, she was inspired by her mother's use of traditional stainless steel plates and cups at their family dining table.
Determined to create a safer and healthier alternative for American families, Dr. Mantravadi launched Ahimsa, which not only provides a safer and more durable option for children's dinnerware, but also sets a new standard for children's products by avoiding plastic in its products and packaging, and intentionally designing tableware that excites kids to eat healthy at a young age. Dr. Mantravadi's mission is to empower parents with evidence-based information and to help create a safer, kinder, and healthier future for all kids.
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