Going Vegan in Asia

vegan pancakes

About 6 months ago, scrolling through the internet looking for a morning read, I found a video that turned me vegan over night.

I was around 10-11 when I looked at meat and realized what it is: a dead animal. At first I tried ignoring it, but soon looking at meat made me feel sick. I started poking out bits of meat from my food. I couldn’t stand the look, smell or taste of it anymore. When I was 13 I found out that my school served vegetarian food. I tried it for the first time and I was in love. So I learned to cook vegetarian food, and tricked my if-it’s-not-meat-it’s-grass dad into eating falafel. He really loved it, and from then on my family started to eat vegetarian lasagnas and quiche.

I was vegetarian for about 5 years, until my depression reached new levels and I had a mental breakdown. I became unable to take care of myself and lost all my sense of self, identity, beliefs and values. Nothing mattered anymore, not me, not you, not the animals. I got drunk and ate a hot dog. And then it was over.

As I began to recover, I felt shame. I felt banish from some sort of vegetarian world I had imagined in my head. So I’d make jokes like “I was vegetarian until I ate a hot dog” to hide my guilt. I didn’t like meat, but I’d eat it once every week just so that I couldn’t call myself a vegetarian. A really strange situation.

Then I saw that video, and my problems didn’t matter anymore.

My husband wasn’t impressed. “Of all the places in the world where there are lots of vegans, you waited until we moved to ASIA?!” We’d just moved to Singapore, and had been living here about a month when I saw that video. We hadn’t figured out food yet, but one thing was clear, the locals are very fond of their meats!

Being vegan in Asia is not easy. It’s not a thing, and most locals don’t know what it is. I’ve had to learned to cook everything myself (vegan mayonnaise, vegan cheese, vegan cakes and cookies…now learning to make vegan youghurt). I’ve learned to be responsible and never assume that the restaurant knows what I’m talking about. I’ve learned to google every dish before ordering it, and I’ve become smooth enough to research restaurant menus online before going there.

There were lots of trial and error. Vegetarian is more known so I try to be smart and order vegetarian food where I think it’s safe. But I’ve had vegetarian noodles with eggs, and vegetarian noodles with prawns. So I’ve learned to study every dish and think ahead “can I have vegetarian noodles, no egg, no sea food, no prawns, no fish, no fish sauce.” I’m every food courts dream.

But I try to stay positive, don’t loose faith, take personal responsibility, read more, think more, and try again.

Homemade and homegrown vegan food

arugula vegan burgers vegan chocolate cake  vegan pasta

images from instagram

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