Tempeh Bak Kwa – Updated Recipe + Channel 8 Feature

Hope everyone’s 2019 has been good so far! 2019 so far has given me some new opportunities and positive changes. I hope that things are finally looking up and all the hard work I did in 2018 will pay off. My closest friends will know that 2018 was tough in certain aspects. I really want to thank all the amazing friends that supported, listened and gave me advice – couldn’t have made it without you!

In late December 2018, I received an email from a Channel 8 producer, asking to feature my old tempeh bak kwa recipe on the Hello Singapore show. She had found the recipe on this blog as she was searching for one that is healthier and isn’t conventional meat bak kwa. As an introvert who isn’t comfortable being filmed or photographed (I really prefer being behind camera!), I struggled at first on whether to accept it. But this is a great chance for the masses to learn that our favourite traditional foods can also be made with plants. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put my discomfort aside.

It was a fun and interesting shoot with Youyi 有懿 thanks to Channel 8’s amazing crew! I was very nervous and awkward because it’s my first time being filmed. Everyone was very patient and nice during the shoot and wrapped everything up in the most professional manner I’ve ever seen on a set (I’ve worked on sets before as assistants). The show will be aired on Hello Singapore 狮城有约 on 28 Jan 2019, 7.15pm and will be available online on Toggle. Also really glad that the crew enjoyed the bak kwa (and tapao-ed everything back)!

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You Yi and the crew were amazing and so professional!

Recipe is based on the one I posted 3 years ago, but simplified. Here’s the updated detailed recipe which is easier, slightly shorter with ingredients that are rather easy to find. I chose tempeh as the base protein as it’s a more digestible alternative to processed mock meat. Flaxseed powder is used as the binder, the other ingredients contribute to taste.

This is a slightly tricky recipe to make as temperature and time control is crucial, usually some pieces (especially those at the edges) will be burnt.

Tempeh Bak Kwa (makes 12-15 bite sized pieces):

For base:

  • 400g tempeh
  • ½ cup neutral flavour plant oil (don’t use olive or unrefined coconut)

For marinade:

  • 1 block of fermented red beancurd
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed powder (for binding, cannot omit, found in organic section in NTUC)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp red rice yeast (optional, for colour, from TCM shops)
  • 90g raw sugar (or use regular sugar)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp rice wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp maltose (can be bought from Chinese goods shops in market)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp of each: five-spice powder, ginger powder, chilli powder, white pepper powder, black pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional but highly recommended, can be found in bigger Cold Storage outlets)
  • 1/2 tbsp white miso (optional, improves umami)
  • 1 tsp marmite (optional, improves umami)

For glaze:

  • 1 tbsp maltose
  • 1tbsp water/red water (see step 2)
  1. Steam tempeh for 5-10mins and let cool. In a food processor, blend with the oil to a thick, smooth paste. This step is important in removing the fermented taste from tempeh.
  2. Mix or boil 1/2 cup hot water and red rice yeast in a bowl. The water will be reddish, strain and let cool.
  3. Add all marinade ingredients into food processor on top of blended tempeh and oil. Blend till combined and well mixed.
  4. Transfer paste to a bowl. Cover bowl and leave overnight in fridge, or for at least 6 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. Spread paste on baking paper on a large baking tray. Spread out the paste with spatula to about 0.3 cm thick. Sides will be thinner so gently push back the sides to minimise burning while baking.
  6. Bake in oven for ~25 mins till paste is dry to touch and able to lift slightly in one piece. Remove from oven. 
  7. Let the paste cool slightly before cutting. Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 230C. Mix 1 tbsp maltose with 1 tbsp red water to make the glaze.
  8. Using a pizza cutter, cut into bite sized pieces. Brush one side with glaze.
  9. Bake for 7-10mins then remove tray from oven, flip each slice over and glaze the other side. Return to oven and grill for 5 mins or until sides are slightly charred. Watch the oven carefully here, at this point it burns easily!
  10. Remove and let cool, minimize touching when hot, as it breaks easily. The slices will harden when cooled. Brush with the remaining glaze (optional, it will look shinier) Can be kept in airtight container in fridge for up to 1-2 weeks.

Due to time constraints and the amount of labour needed to make this, I won’t be able to sell them. If you want good vegan bak kwa, I can recommend the one from Yes Natural brand. 🙂

Thank you for reading my posts as always! This happened because of your amazing support. I hope to continue producing good, plant-based content to help fellow Asians who want to eat healthier/vegan. Due to my new responsibilities, the posts may not be as frequent as they were in 2018 but I will keep them coming 🙂

PS: On a side note, I made a short travel film of my Japan trip here. Enjoy!

YouTube Channel Launch – Kueh Bahulu Recipe Video

Happy New Year!

A new year, a new beginning! 2018 marks the start of my first ever YouTube channel. In 2016 some friends had already suggested YouTube since I’m trained in video and animation. But I was so occupied with work at a design studio that I didn’t have much free time. It was only when I started freelancing in 2017 (even though the workload is the same), I had the flexibility to take on new personal projects.

Hope to bring more engaging content to anyone interested in healthier foods, as I know people generally like viewing than reading. Many recipes also require techniques that are best shown visually. Please like, subscribe and enable notifications to my channel to be notified when new videos are out. Currently planning to release one video per month, that’s the best I can do as I need to prioritise my clients’ works, but the wait will be worth it! I’ll still have regular 2-3 times monthly blog posts here, so don’t worry, I won’t be leaving here 🙂

In some Southeast Asian countries, kueh (or kuih) is a generic Malay (or Bahasa) word for snack, usually referring to traditional snacks made with wheat or rice flour, coconut, tapioca, sticky rice and pandan.

Kueh bahulu is a bite-sized sponge cake quite similar to French madeleines but with much simpler ingredients, in fact it’s been called the Asian madeleine by some. It was chosen to be the first video recipe as this snack is close to every Singaporean’s heart. I’ve never seen an eggless recipe for it yet. It’s something that every neighbourhood bakery has, packed in small plastic bags, usually sold for a dollar or two. Also a regular sight at Malay or Chinese familys’ snack tables during Hari Raya or Chinese New Year. If you don’t take eggs for whatever reason, you won’t miss out on the nostalgia with this recipe. Here I used aquafaba (chickpea water) to replace the eggs and tweaked the traditional recipe to maximise rising. Since there’s a limit to the degree of fluffiness achievable with aquafaba, it’s not as airy as the egg ones. Still it’s a soft, slightly chewy and delightful snack reminiscent of childhood.


Kueh Bahulu (makes 18-22 depends on mould)

  • 90g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 90g raw sugar
  • Aquafaba from 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence/paste
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/355F.
  2. Grease and flour your mould(s). If you’re using the traditional aluminium one, preheat it in oven for about 20mins after greasing, then flour it after removing from oven.
  3. Put flour and sugar into metal pans and place in oven. This is to remove moisture so it keeps longer.
  4. Using an electric mixer, whip aquafaba and vinegar in a large bowl till soft to stiff peaks. Took me about 15mins on high speed.
  5. Remove flour and sugar from oven.
  6. Add 1/3 of the sugar into the whipped aquafaba, and whip at medium speed till just combined.
  7. Repeat till all sugar is used up. Beat till mixture ribbons, about 10-15mins on high speed.
  8. Add oil, vanilla and mix on low for few seconds till you see no more patches of both.
  9. Sieve the heated flour into the mixture 1/3 at a time. Using a whisk, mix till just combined.
  10. Repeat till all flour is used up. Do not over mix.
  11. Pour batter into your mould(s). Tap the moulds lightly few times to remove air bubbles. Bake for 15mins or till golden brown, rotating the pan at around 8mins.
  12. Repeat till all batter is used up. If you’re using the same mould, you will need to grease and flour again before pouring the batter.
  13. Let kueh cool in mould for about 5mins or until it is easy to remove, then use toothpick to release it. Let cool on a rack completely before storing.

Notes:

  • Use a non-stick metal mould instead, the traditional aluminium one sticks too easily and is very hard to clean :/
  • Don’t keep sugar in the oven too long as it’ll melt. About 10-15mins of heating on fan mode is good enough.
  • Bake longer for more crisp and brown exterior.
  • Keeps well in fridge for 1week, not recommended to keep at room temperature (in the tropics) for more than 2 days.
  • The kueh will harden in the fridge, best to toast it lightly for few mins before eating.

If you enjoyed the video, please like, share and subscribe for more! Thank you SO MUCH for your support over the past years! I’m really excited to bring more varied recipes to different platforms, hope to show more people the beauty of vegan food! May your 2018 be full of blessings, health and happiness.

 

Dark Chocolate Brownies

This is not only a recipe post, but a message to all girls.

Some girls have the habit of rejecting dessert, counting calories to a T, avoiding certain whole foods like coconut, nuts or avocados for the sole goal of “I don’t want to look fat.” What I find even more disturbing is the number of slim girl friends saying that they are “fat”, and the increasing number of eating disorders among young girls in recent years.

Firstly I’d like to question, with my usual frankness that’s notorious among my friends:

  • Why do you want to avoid being “fat”?
  • Is being bigger than “normal size” a bad thing?
  • Do you think there even should be a “normal size”?
  • Are you truly happy counting calories everyday?

My take on this is very simple:

  • Humans have survived millions of years thanks to genetic diversity. A smaller body that lived in a warm climate would not have survived well in a winter climate compared to a larger body. A larger body could be better at intimidating away predators than a smaller one.
  • Fast forward to modern times, body size was suddenly assigned positive or negative values purely based on appearance.
  • In most developed countries, anything that jiggles is bad. In some developing places, like my family’s hometown in North China, a bigger body = richer pocket = promises financial security (for men) and in good health to bear children (for women).
  • Your body is a result of the complex and practical evolutionary story – there’s no good and bad to your size. Diversity is to be celebrated and there should not be a “normal size” as a benchmark to judge yourself against.

Whole foods that contain good fats like nuts, seeds, avocados etc, are incredibly good for us when taken in suitable amounts. As long as you’re eating whole foods roughly 80% of the time, moving regularly and getting enough rest, I believe our bodies are smart enough to regulate our metabolism well.

For the other 20% of the time, enjoy your favourite coconut-rich curry cooked by grandma, don’t say no to the piece of cake at a party and indulge in those pineapple tarts when they come once a year.

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Life’s too short to reject a bite of fudgy, moist brownies, especially if they are egg-free, dairy-free,  hydrogenated oils-free and refined sugar-free. Here’s my favourite chocolate brownie recipe. Treat yourself well!


 

Vegan dark chocolate brownies

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour, sieved (If you want to use whole wheat, reduce the amount of flour and increase the amount of non-dairy milk.)
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 200C. Mix all together into a large bowl, make a hole in the centre and leave aside.

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cup plant oil (I used grapeseed oil, avoid using strong flavoured ones like olive or coconut.)
  • 1 tbsp black coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 1 and ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk.)
  • 15g – 20g dark chocolate (at least 70%. More or less is fine, depending on preference)
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, for cheaper but lower quality chips, go for the dark chocolate chips at Phoon Huat)

Melt the dark chocolate in the non-dairy milk over low heat. Whisk sugar, molasses and oil together in a medium bowl until combined. Add coffee, vanilla, non-dairy milk and chocolate mixture and mix till a smooth paste.

Pour wet mixture into dry mix. Using a spatula, mix until just combined then add chocolate chips. Sprinkle some chocolate chips onto the surface. Line a pan with baking paper. Pour mixture into pan and use spatula to flatten it out evenly. Bake for 15 – 20 mins, until a fork inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove, let cool in pan for 1 minute before transferring onto rack. Cool completely before cutting. Note: a longer baking time will result in a crumblier brownie, a shorter time makes a fudgy brownie.


 

 

 

 

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If fitting into society’s skewed ideas of beauty is making you unhappy, re-evaluate your goals. Pursue physical and mental health rather than a weight. A strong body and mind can do much more than just getting the look you wanted. Don’t gauge your worth on how you look, but how you feel.

This message from me was inspired by my friend Allison from New York. Allison has a brand inspired by China’s strong women, called 女汉子 pronounced as Nü3 Han4 Zi4 in Chinese. Although frowned upon especially by guys, I identify as a Nühanzi as I grew up among strong women. My grandmother fought for her right to enroll in university while her father wanted her to stay on the farm to raise pigs. My aunt overcame domestic abuse and is now running a business in China. My mother mocked for her poor English when we just arrived in Singapore and used that as the driving force to successfully climb up the corporate ladder. She has never cushioned her opinions and I got my frankness from her. To the guys that criticised me for being too direct, sorry not sorry, it just runs in the family!

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Imagine how thrilled I was to receive Nühanzi’s tops (now my Muay Thai class’ go-to tank) and necklaces! Some proceeds from her necklace will go to the MoreThanMe organisation, helping to build all-girls, tuition free schools in Liberia. Check them out and support a good cause for all girls.

How to Be a Herbivore in Singapore Part 5 – Eating Out & Being Social

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Previous: 01 why vegan . 02 nutrition . 03 cooking04 groceries . Next: 06 eating at hawker centres07 challenges and support.

Singapore is vegan food heaven – the Lion City has been named by PETA as the 2nd most vegan-friendly country in Asia! However, to enjoy this, you must understand the local food culture. If not, be prepared face inconvenience, heftier price tags, and very confused servers.

Types of diets

The concept of ‘vegan’ has not taken root in our mainstream society yet, but there are several types of vegetarians in Asia due to a history of religious influence in the region. In Singapore, you’ll meet these common types:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian (奶蛋素): People who avoid meat (including seafood) but take eggs and dairy.
  • Lacto-vegetarian (奶素): People who avoid meat (including seafood) and eggs but take dairy.
  • Buddhist vegetarian (斋): People who avoid meat (including seafood) and five pungent herbs – onions, chives, leeks, shallots and garlic. Most take dairy and some take eggs.
  • Chuyi Shiwu vegetarian (初一十五斋/素): Religious people (usually Buddhists) who avoid meat (including seafood) and possibly alliums and eggs only on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar calendar.
  • Indian vegetarian: There are many Indian religions that advocate avoiding meat (including seafood) and possibly eggs and/or the five pungent herbs. Takes dairy.
  • Non-religious vegetarians: People who are usually not religious and avoid meat (including seafood) and possibly eggs for other reasons (food preference, health, ethics and/or the environment).

Locals usually confuse veganism as a type of vegetarianism and think we probably take eggs and/or dairy and don’t take onion/garlic. Don’t be offended if you’re served something you don’t take. Always be politely specific when placing orders to avoid misunderstandings. There are a surprising number of people that don’t know the definition of dairy.

I’ve found the best way to put the point across to Singaporean servers is “I eat vegetarian without honey, eggs and dairy.”

In case you meet servers who aren’t fluent in English (not common but they exist), I’ve made these language cards for you to show them. They are also applicable in Chinese-speaking countries. For Singapore, Malaysia and mainland China, use the simplified Chinese versions. For Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, use the traditional Chinese versions. Download them here.

 

Types of Eating Spaces

The typology of Singapore’s public eating spaces is diverse. Here are the two main types of eateries and the pros and cons of eating vegan there. It’s best to avoid soy and konjac based mock meats as they may contain eggs and milk as binders. Gluten-based ones are safest.

Hawker centres and food courts are the heart of Singapore’s food scene and daily life. The non air-conditioned hawker centres were the first sanitary eating spaces in Singapore to offer a variety of cooked local food. Most have been replaced by air-conditioned food courts in shopping malls with similar stall setups and the inclusion of international cuisine.

Pros – The majority of locals eat their daily meals here, since it is very affordable, usually costing below $5 for a meal. Vegetarian food is common, dedicated vegetarian stalls specialise mainly in Chinese food.

Cons – Might not be the healthiest. Some can be heavy on mock meats and fried food with some egg dishes. MSG may be prevailant as a cheap and easy flavouring, as these stalls usually do not use allium plants due to religious beliefs. If you are sensitive to MSG, best to check with the stalls before eating. Not all servers can speak good English.

 (Typical selections from vegetarian stalls. Such stalls will display Chinese characters 斋 or 素, meaning vegetarian.)

Eateries, restaurants and cafés are the result of gentrification, rising affluence and increasing demand for more international variety and upscale dining experiences.

Pros – They have better service, and thus it easier to make requests. Many places have vegetarian or vegan options labelled. These places also feature bigger selections of cuisines and are often much healthier than hawker centres.

Cons – Prices can range from $5 at a family-friendly fast food joint like Komalas, to $50 for a meal at fine dining places like Sufood. Any meal more than $5 is considered too pricey to be eaten on a daily basis for lower-middle class Singaporeans. They either have to eat less healthy options at hawker centres or cook at home.

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(Vegan burger place nomVnom. Thanks Wai Lek for the photo!)

 

Eating Out

Thanks to racial diversity, a global city status, prevalent vegetarianism and a food-centric culture, vegans can be spoilt for choice here. Within ten minutes by foot of the HDB block I stay at, there are three vegetarian food stalls, one vegetarian grocery and a vegan ice cream spot! Choices have increased especially in recent years. Here are some yummy dishes I had in recent months.

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(Kwan Inn Zhai’s famous laksa, kimchi fried rice at Boneless kitchen, yam cake, chee cheong fun and shwee kueh from Bishan bus interchange cafeteria veg stall, fried hor fun from Lin Lin, capsicum pesto pasta from  Sautè and pita & falafel platter from Fill-a-Pita.)

SG Veg*n eateries’ directories

  • Happy Cow is a global directory of vegan, vegetarian, veg-friendly eateries and health stores. The Singapore directory is well-maintained by a local representative and volunteers. They have a great location-based app too. A must – have during travels!
  • Hungry Ang Mo is Singapore’s number one veg food review blog.Has excellent reviews covering most vegetarian/vegan eateries. You can filter eateries by region and proximity to an MRT station.
  • Little Green Wok has a list of vegetarian eateries by area withdetailed information regarding whether they sell dishes with onion/garlic, operating hours and contact information.

Because the local F&B scene is highly competitive, eateries can come and go. Some places with veg*n options may also have stopped offering them. That’s why it’s best to call before visiting a place you’ve not gone to.

Eating with non-vegans:

  • Animal Allies Singapore has tips on what to eat at popular establishments like MacDonald’s, Starbucks, Soup Spoon, Cedele etc, that are NOT salads and fries.
  • Why not take this as an opportunity to show how good plant-based eats can taste? Many veg*n places do excellent comfort foods that make many omnivores go “I never knew vegan can taste so good!!”. My go-to food outlets in Singapore that elicit this reaction are: Miaoyi (Cantonese vegetarian), Real Food (fushion healthy food), Brownice (pizza & ice cream), NomvNom (local flavoured burgers & awesome earl grey muffins), Veganburg (Western flavoured burgers), Kwan Yin Zhai (best $3 laksa), Well Dressed Salad Bar (awesome sweets), Gokul (vegan murtabak!).
  • Vegan choices in non-veg restaurants – a database compiled by volunteers. Many non-veg places in Singapore have veg*n options often labelled.
  • If you are eating with a group of non-vegans, find out what the eatery has to offer beforehand. Look up their online menu or call them before visiting. If the vegan options are poor, suggest alternative eating places beforehand to your friends. This is to avoid awkward situations.
  • Informing the host / organiser of the gathering/event beforehand will help reduce inconveniences too. Since religious vegetarianism is ingrained here and Singaporeans are brought up to respect others’ beliefs, people are usually accommodating.
  • Be flexible, specific and polite. If there is no vegan option, choose the dish that has the least animal ingredients and request the dish to be prepared without them. Be patient with servers if you’ve been served with non-veg food. Everyone makes mistakes, especially during peak eating hours.
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Many popular vegetarian places have mock meat vegan dishes that even hardcore carnivores will love, like this incredible mutton masala from Gokul.
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Even if your omni friends don’t want to eat vegan food with you, plenty of non-vegetarian places have vegan options now, like Cocoichibanya’s veggie curries.

Good friends will always consider your needs and respect your preferences. Likewise, I will not force a hardcore carnivore to go to a vegan eatery. That never needed to happen anyway as my non-vegan friends always asked me to suggest places when going out. (Thank you everyone!) And I personally don’t know any hardcore carnivores – I guess the saying “like attract like” is right! If people are sincere about wanting to spend time with you, they’ll find ways to include you.

 

Social events

The average local will understand religious vegetarianism. But ‘coming out’ as vegan who, on your own free will, relinquished food that society deems the most tasty will attract lots of curiosity with a polite “why ah?” and, “but chicken rice!” Once you get used to that, it’s not difficult to be a social vegan here. We have ‘normal’ friends and family members too, whom we endearingly call omnies!

Going to home reunions/parties

Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and similar festivals are when we gather with our non-vegan families and friends. Vegans can face challenges not limited to food. Unfortunately most Asian cultures place importance on obeying the older generation, not rejecting food and not being too outspoken or disagreeing. Here are some tips from my vegan friends of various ethnicities on how to survive the holidays and not be put on anyone’s blacklist!

  • Chinese food can be easily veganised as soy and gluten have been used since ancient times in China as plant proteins. Dairy isn’t in most dishes too. All it takes is a polite call to your host! I’m considered lucky as there are many vegetarians in my extended family. Other than the need to endure body-shaming and single-shaming remarks, my Chinese New Years are made enjoyable with, hotpots, water dumplings and various home-cooked veggie and soy dishes.
  • As Malay food is often meat-heavy, I asked Izam, my Muslim vegan friend, to share how he visits during Eid. He made a video to show you how they look like! Savoury foods can include rice cakes like ketupat or lemming with peanut satay sauce, serundeng, sambal goreng and lontong without meat. For kueh/snacks there are sticky rice based kuehs (e.g. kueh lopes, rainbow kueh), cracker snacks like banana chips, tapioca chips and nut-based snacks like peanut candies and belinjau crackers.
  • My friend Harsha shares that Indian food is easily veganised thanks to prevalence of vegetarianism in India. Simply request the host to leave out the ghee, yogurt and paneer in vegetarian Indian food. Desserts can be made with coconut milk instead of cow’s milk too.
  • A fellow vegan who had a Eurasian extended family followed the advice above  – telling them in advance so they separated vegan food from non-vegan food and bringing a veganised dish to share. If any Eurasians have tips to contribute please email me, as I don’t know any traditional Eurasian families.

Tips to make eating vegan at non-vegans’ places pleasant for everyone:

  • Inform: Telling the host in advance to make one portion for you is the most important. Be very specific as not every person’s understanding of veganism is the same.
  • Give: Make or buy something to share. It can be a veganised version of a traditional dish or something simple like drinks or fruits. The host will greatly appreciate some preparation stress taken off him/her. A great chance to share nice eats with non-vegans!
  • Enjoy: Though it’s common to face an onslaught of sometimes not very nice questions and comments from relatives and friends, we shouldn’t let such comments dampen the mood. Being asked such questions is a great opportunity to share the benefits of this lifestyle, but with everyone in a festive mood, barely anyone will want to hear about negativities no matter how true they are. Rather, explain briefly about how you benefitted from a lifestyle change and then just enjoy the company. After all, a happy vegan is more convincing than an angry one.

Going to barbeques

BBQs are a common Singaporean way of socializing. Lots of things can be grilled besides meat! Starches like sweet potatoes and potatoes, proteins like tempeh and tofu, and firm plants like mushrooms, green/red peppers, eggplant and okra can be made delicious over the grill with a marinade or a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Quality mock meats like veggie patties and sausages from Cold Storage often can impress omnivores with their meaty flavours. Thanks Cloud for providing the photo!

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Going to formal events

For weddings, networking events, company functions and D&Ds, always inform the host or HR department beforehand. Caterers will often have vegetarian options. You have to specify vegetarian with no dairy and eggs as by default some veg options, especially Western and Indian foods, have dairy. As a request can be lost in logistical processes of big companies, putting forward that you are “vegetarian and allergic to dairy and eggs” will guarantee your request being taken more seriously and followed through.

Facing remarks and judgement?

The hardest part of being vegan at gatherings is not the food; it’s talking to the people who suddenly become nutritionists after you decline their offer of salmon. I won’t talk facts first. That can come off as preachy; people’s carnist reflexes will cause defensiveness and might close their minds to a positive lifestyle. Only if someone asks (I don’t bring up veganism to everyone), I always share how this lifestyle benefited me and leave it up to individuals to decide.

As a vegetarian since I was 3, I’ve received every remark from “having not enough protein” to “what if you’re on a desert island?” and the downright rude body shamers. I barely bat an eyelid to such remarks now (partially thanks to architecture school for the thick skin). Living as a minority of society teaches one a lot about humans’ psychological defence mechanisms. Using anger and criticism to divert vulnerable feelings of guilt and sensitivity is a normal part of human nature.

(From Vegan Sidekick facebook. The struggle is real.)

Lots of vegan friends tell stories about people who are irrationally disturbed by their choice of food. Just keep doing what you believe is best. If you don’t behave like an offensive militant vegan, it’s not your fault when people attack you for choosing not to eat chicken. Don’t feel bad! Likewise, don’t criticise non-vegans as we were meat- and/or dairy-loving once. Positivity and compassion (for Homo sapiens too!) matter greatly. It’s the confidence that you show in your chosen way of life that people can respect and be inspired by.

Next > eating out at hawker centres.

How to Be a Herbivore in Singapore Part 4 – shopping for groceries!

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Previous: 01 why vegan . 02 nutrition . 03 cooking . Next: 05 social eating . 06 eating at hawker centres . 07 challenges and support.

Note: This article contains reward links to products from iherb.com. I’ve tried these products and genuinely like them, hence I can recommend. If you purchase from my links you will get 5% off the next order and I will get 5% rewards credit, thanks in advance if you do! 🙂

“So hard to find vegan groceries and snacks here!”

“Vegan food is expensive!”

True, because:

  1. Vegan labeling isn’t common here yet.
  2. Vegan meat and dairy alternatives are imported from foreign countries and thus pricey.
  3. Vegan foods are often wrongly equated with health foods, and health foods always cost more.

Not true, because:

  1. Vegan food includes fresh produce which are plenty and cheap.
  2. If you read the ingredients you’d be surprised at the number of accidentally vegan packaged foods available.
  3. Many cheap local foods are vegan, just not marked as vegan.

This is my complete guide to places to buy everything from breads to nutritional yeast to ice creams, with indications of price range!

 

1) Wet markets (pasars) – Affordable

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I get my bulk of ingredients here. Not only the produce are fresher and sometimes cheaper than supermarkets, you can also support local businesses directly. Markets are stock full of local and imported veggies, tropical fruits, fresh tofu, local condiments, spice packs, dried foods and tempeh so fresh that it’s still warmly fermenting on the shelves. And in a lucky neighbourhood, you get a well-stocked vegetarian grocery stall full of vegan goodies.

 

2) Regular supermarkets (NTUC, Giant, Seng Siong) – Affordable

The second biggest bulk of my food comes from mainstream supermarkets. They have a great selection of fresh, dried and processed foods like miso, kimchi, non-dairy milks, canned beans, organic tofu, breads, edamame and granola bars that are not available in wet markets.

The health section is a gem – quality beans, nut milks, cider vinegar, organic grains and flaxseeds at cheaper prices than dedicated health stores. If you want cheaper, buy from iHerb or Mustafa!

Accidentally vegan breads: according to ingredients listed on NTUC’s online shop, my experience and confirmations from fellow vegans:

NTUC:

  • Sunshine Multi Grain
  • Sunshine Smart – Carb
    (not listed on website, confirmed from fellow vegan)
  • Sunshine Enriched Walnut Bread
  • Sunshine Potato Wholemeal buns(not listed on website, confirmed from fellow vegan)
  • Sunshine Softmeal Bread
  • Sunshine Wholemeal Cream bread rolls (Chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, cookies & cream flavours)
  • Sunshine Extra Fine Sprouted WHITE Bread (not the wholemeal one)
  • Fairprice Wholemeal
  • Gardenia Wholemeal Hamburger Buns
  • Gardenia Foccacia (not listed on the website, from my experience)
  • Top One Enriched White Bread
  • Top One Enriched Wholemeal Bread
  • Five Loaves brand has a good variety of vegan bread items (like cinnamon rolls), available at some NTUC finest.

Giant Supermarket (in-house breads, source: accidentallyvegansg):

  • Multi_Grain
  • Flaxseed
  • Charcoal multi-grain
  • Multiseed
  • Walnut bread
  • Sultana

This may not be a complete list. In case I missed out any or companies change recipes, always check the ingredients first.

 

3) Traditional Chinese dried goods and medicine (TCM)
shops – Variable prices


They aren’t just about Chinese medicine and herbs! You will find :

  • Cashews, peanuts, walnuts and similar nut snacks
  • Various dried fungi like shiitake, wild mushrooms, kelp, seaweed etc.
  • Dried flowers – rose, chrysanthemum, lavender etc.
  • Beans – Dried red bean, kidney beans, green beans etc
  • Grains & Seeds – Barley, millet, oats, lotus seeds, sesame etc
  • Superfoods – Chinese dates, gojiberries etc.

Hock Hua, Eu Yan Sang are the most well-known chains. Smaller shops are also found in most neighbourhoods.

Prices will depend on the quality of the product or how exotic it is. The morel mushroom in this photo (top left) costs $45 per bottle as it’s a rare delicacy. Common ingredients like green/red beans, peanuts, dried shiitake and kelp are around $2-5 per packet.

TCM shops’ staff are usually knowledgeable about their goods, don’t be shy to ask for recommendations.

4) Indian provision shops – Affordable

Legumes, lentils and spices heaven! There’s one in almost every neighbourhood. My fav biryani and curry spice packs are from here. Many dry indian snacks are vegan – can’t resist a $2 pack of muruku!

Vegetarian products from India are always labeled with this green circle in a square. Simply look out for dairy.

5) Mustafa – Affordable

You’ll be surprised at the amount of vegan foods sold at this supermarket on steroids. The maze-like layout, poor organisation, crazy weekend crowds and unhelpful staff can drive one insane. But with prices that are too good to be true and selections unmatched by any other store, braving the madness is worth it.

Vegan groceries there:

  • Singapore’s biggest selection of dates all year round.
  • Huge range of Bob’s Red Mill’s products!
  • Cheapest vegan cheese. Sheese brand, variety of cream cheese spread, slices and melt-able cheddars – not often in stock so stock up while you’re there.
  • Nuttlex and Natura vegan butters, Soylife vegan yogurt.
  • Non-dairy milks like almond, macadamia, soy, oat milks of various flavours.
  • Instant soy, oat and nut milk powders and cereals.
  • Black salt! And many other condiments.
  • Fry’s faux meats, Linda McCartneys and various Chinese mock meats.
  • For seitan, only Chinese canned seitans are available in SG. Otherwise, making from a pack of Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten flour is your best choice.
  • Various sizes and types of TVPs (textured soy proteins).
  • Nut butters (some with prices that will make iHerb cry) – pistachio, tahini, raw, roasted, blended with cacao, hazelnut chocolate blends, etc.
  • Various canned beans (read: aquafaba), veggies and fruits. They don’t have canned green jackfruit but have fresh ones at the fridge section in veggies & fruit area. Tekka Market nearby also sells fresh green jackfruits.
  • All sorts of nuts and dried fruits.
  • Various flours, grains, organic beans, lentils, quinoa, chia seeds.
  • Wraps – wheat, spelt, oat, rice and gluten-free.
  • Baking section has nutritional yeast, rice/date/maple syrups, cacao nibs, coconut flakes, real vanilla extracts and beans.
  • Interesting Italian dried pasta selection (note: black pasta = squid ink)
  • Huge variety of oils. Avocado, walnut, coconut, herb-infused, etc.
  • Many dark chocolates bars there are vegan.
  • Mind-blowing amount of snacks – chips, seaweeds, local sweets, nuts, nut bars, granola bars, murukus.. I even saw raw kale chips once!
  • Spices – dried, powdered, mixed, in shakers, in grinders, etc.

Shopping there can be overwhelming, so ask a seasoned fellow vegan to guide you there – their staff are the most unhelpful service personnel you can meet. Mustafa sometimes can run out of stock for certain items for months so best to get when you see – you never know when it runs out!

 

6) iHerb – Varied price range

Vegan heaven – protein powders, marshmallows, fruit-flavoured B12, nut butters, cosmetics,  shampoos, EVERYTHING! Free shipping to Singapore for orders above USD85! My go-to for items sold too expensive or unavailable here. Here’s a list of links to good stuff I’ve tried and tested:

Use my code ZHB975 to get 10% off your first purchase!

 

7) Local health stores and vegetarian grocery shops – Varied price range

Health stores in Singapore comes in 2 types – Asian and Western. They carry interesting, often healthier and organic niche products (nutritional yeast, gluten-free cookies, etc) not found in mainstream supermarkets.

Cheaper places (mostly Asian groceries):
Most Chinese vegetarian eateries have a grocery shelf with local-style veg foods (斋料) like egg (and dairy) free Chinese New Year cookies, meatless bak kwa and vegan sambal belacan. There are also many Chinese vegetarian groceries hidden in neighbourhoods – check this list or Happy Cow to find one near you!

They often stock various noodles, local condiments (I get sambal and belacan here), dried beans and nuts, preserves, cereals, seaweeds and instant foods (my travel staples!). Check ingredients before buying. Again, please let me know if I’ve missed out any store offering vegan groceries.

image
  • Fortune Centre – This vegetarian enclave is mainly known for the variety of vegan – friendly food spots. It’s also got a few shops and eateries selling Asian groceries at level 1, 2 and 3. Men, you may want to avoid the “massage” parlors at levels 2, 3 and 4.
  • Green Natural – Chinese vegetarian health shop with both Asian and Western health foods.
  • Kian Joo  – A popular Chinese vegetarian grocery shop, part of the small belt of old-school vegetarian businesses along Sims Ave. Carries Asian mock meats, frozen and canned foods, local sauces and health foods. Neighbour to Eastern Highlands veg bakery mentioned above and Kwan In Vegetarian food court (best cheap laksa here!)
  • Redmart – Have a good selection of imported vegan meat and dairy alternatives (Beyond, Gardien, Fry’s etc) but may be sold out by now. Do email them to ask for restock.
  • Mekhala Living – Fair-trade, organic, vegan and gluten-free Southeast Asian sauces, rice, spices and oils. I’m a fan of their delicious Thai-inspired sauces!
  • Nature’s Glory – Mainly organic Asian groceries. Good range of local and imported dried and fresh produce.
  • Phoon Huat – Doesn’t matter if you’re making parfaits or ang ku kueh, they can meet most of your baking and confectionery needs! Carries various flours from rice to gluten-free, nuts, chocolates, extracts and flavourings. Also has a shelf of imported foods with vegan ones (I saw vegan ramen, snack bars and digestives). Gullon brand has many vegan cookies and biscuits. Note that their dairy-free creamer is not vegan and they have no other vegan butters except Crisco (ugh).
  • Sunny Choice – A delicious organic (mostly) vegan eatery that sells Asian health food and organic groceries.
  • Taste Original – Excellent Asian sauces and healthy ramen selection.
  • Yes Natural – Large selection of vegetarian and vegan foods and body care products. Have a vegetarian bakery (vegan options labelled) and restaurant at their Aljunied outlet.
  • Zenxin Organic –  Carries everything from fresh local produce to eco-friendly vegan household cleaners.

A note on Asian mock meats: Many of them contain milk, eggs as cheap binders and they aren’t always clearly labeled. Some untrustworthy suppliers even use animal-based flavourings, but an insider from Agri-Veterinary Authority (AVA) says they DNA test vegetarian mock meats for animal meats. Gluten-based ones (seitan) are the safest as gluten is a strong binder by itself. If the packaging looks dodgy – don’t buy. My advice is to either buy from well-known brands or avoid them completely.

Pricier places (Western groceries):
Carries imported items like organic kale, gluten-free, vegan faux meats, non-dairy cheese, vegan eggs and yogurts. Since they are often flown in frozen or refrigerated, prices can be a shock.

image

“So what do you drink if you don’t drink cow’s milk??” Fellow vegan Shimin bursting with joy over the abundance of non-dairy milks at Mahota. Thanks for providing the photo!

  • Brown Rice Paradise – Large organic and healthy lifestyle store. Carries vegan dairy products and Follow Your Heart vegan egg.
  • eat ORGANIC  – Has Follow Your Heart vegan egg and some vegan meat alternatives.
  • Four Seasons –  High-end and quality imported health foods.
  • Marks and Spencers – Although not as many as the others on this list, they carry some accidentally vegan snacks (gummies, bourbons, digestives etc) which are delicious and quite affordable! Often have clearance sales where a pack can be as low as $2. Vegetarian, dairy and eggs are clearly labeled under diet & allergy information. I’m a huge fan of the chocolate bourbons!
  • Super nature – Large organic and healthy lifestyle store.
  • The Organic Grocer – Imported organic Western groceries and foods, pricey.
  • Vitakids – Kids’ health store with lots of vegan products.

If you’re an expat vegan living here, note that health foods, vegan meat and dairy alternatives available in your home country are sold here at much higher prices! If price is a concern, I encourage you to eat more whole foods and more like a local. Healthier and there’s less food miles too 🙂

8) High-end (atas) supermarkets – Pricier

“Atas” is a Singlish term for expensive, high-end and Western things. The main ones here are NTUC finest, Cold Storage and Marketplace selling mostly produce and foods from America, Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Every one will have a selection of imported vegan ice creams (So Delicious, Tofutti, Booja Booja etc), faux meats (Fry’s, Gardein etc) and dairy alternatives (Nuttlex, CoYo, Pacific, Silk, Natura etc). They are tasty and often clearly labeled vegan, but pricey and often highly processed. I rarely patronize them as cheaper places are enough to meet my needs. Veg*ns from foreign lands will welcome the familiar sight but not the unfamiliar price – remember, you’re paying for the products’ plane tickets here!

 

9) Vegan bakers – Varied price range

When I started being vegan around 2008 there were almost no vegan bakers..but look at the choices now! If you do vegan sweets and bakes, or have a vegetarian bakery with many vegan options, email me to be included here.

  • April’s Bakery – Veganize-able Asian pies in flavours like coconut, taro, BBQ etc.
  • Bakening – Free from all grains, gluten, dairy, refined/artificial sugar, soy, additives, gums, colourings and preservatives. Many vegan options available.
  • Better Breads – Healthy homemade artisan breads and spreads.
  • Brownice – Famous in the local vegan scene for their handmade ice cream and pizzas; they have a selection of delicious ice cream cakes too.
  • Bunny Bakery – 100% vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.
  • Delia.v – Beautiful and elegant 100% vegan pastries.
  • Delcies’ – The priciest but healthiest bakery with gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, nut and soy-free options. Certified halal, 100% vegan. I’m a fan of their sugar-free mooncakes!
  • Eastern Highland Vegetarian Bakery – Promotes themselves as eggless vegetarian but 95% of their bakes are vegan. Main selling points are the affordable price and local old-school nostalgic charm – fluffy buns, sandwich breads, durian rolls and brightly-coloured cakes. Always ask the friendly boss (uncle in singlet) for vegan as not all the staff are knowledgeable.
  • Sayang’s – Home cake baker with 100% vegan, beautifully frosted chocolate cakes, halal-friendly.
  • SG Cupcakes –  Makes cupcakes and brownies, blend of local (eg cendol and bandung cupcakes) and Western flavours.
  • M Bakery – Vegetarian bakery specialising in local-style sweets and bakes with many vegan options.
  • Peace of Cheese – Handmade and healthy cultured vegan cheeses and butter. Singapore’s first vegan creamery.
  • Teeny weenie treats – Handmade oat balls and other treats as cute as their name!
  • Well Dressed Salad Bar – Rustic, homemade and beautifully flavoured sweets baked with love. They have VEGAN DONUTS too! Thanks Zenna for the pretty pics!
  • Yes Natural Bakery – Healthy buns, breads, a few cakes with good vegan options, clearly labeled.
  • Vegan Vice – Impressive handmade, from scratch, healthy vegan gelatos. See my review here.
  • Amy’s cakes – I’m putting this here only because it’s good in an omg-forgot-her-birthday emergency. Chocolate and orange flavours available from high-end supermarkets. Pricey for
    just a bare cake – try to support our local bakers instead.

 

10) Vegan Ice Cream & yogurts – Varied price range

Look at this list compiled by local vegan outreach group Animal Allies Singapore. I prefer buying local brands as they can be much cheaper.

I’d like to add

  1. Mr Bean – They have 2 outlets (Yew Tee Point and One-North MRT) that carry vegan flavours – original, gula melaka, durian, blueberry, green tea, chocolate. I was told the cookies and cream has milk. Also sold in tubs.
  2. Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy flavours are available at some Cold Storage.
Really love their green tea and durian flavours.

If you’re as turned off as me by the prices of non-dairy yogurts here, I wrote about how to make yogurt here. Super easy, no culture starter and machines needed – only a handful of quinoa, water and coconut or soymilk!

 

11) Local organic farms

Organic is better for our health, environment and I taste a huge difference in overall quality – sweeter, juicier, more tender and flavourful. I don’t eat full organic due to the cost, but I support local farms sometimes. Supermarket organic produce generally isn’t as fresh as buying direct from farms. Quanfa farm is my current favourite because of their low free delivery quota, you can find a list of local veggie farms here.

The government is now eyeing many farmlands for redevelopment. A lot are family businesses and their livelihoods may be affected. I highly encourage you to support our local farms as much and as soon as possible.

 

12) If you need lots of fruits and nuts..

Teck Sang is where you go if you’re nuts about nuts at wholesale prices! Probably the most affordable nuts and dried fruits place in Singapore.

To get all the fruits for your raw or HCLF/RTF/801010 needs, befriend your neighbourhood fruit stall’s sellers. They are usually friendly folks and can give good discounts if you bulk purchase or buy off their almost overripe fruits.

 

13) Bonus: Vegan lifestyle products & services

  • Bubbly Petz is Singapore’s first 100% restraint-free grooming studio that stocks vegan and eco–friendly pet supplies! A family of friendly folks are behind this studio that feels more like a furry babies daycare. Located opposite Loving Hut, one of the best vegan cafes here.
  • Handmade Heroes is another 100% locally-grown vegan brand that sells handmade quality skin care products. Shampoos, scrubs, face masks and lip care items – the perfect gift for your vegan friend!
  • Julian is a tattoo artist who uses vegan ink!
  • Luke Tan is a Singaporean vegan bodybuilder and does physical training and coaching tailored to vegans’ needs.
  • Kinokuniya and library@orchard has a great selection of vegan cookbooks in their culinary section.

 

Lastly, reading labels is a must

image

No one will judge you for reading ingredients on a pack of food because Singaporeans mind their own business. There are sneaky animal products in the form of food additives and emulsifiers (E numbers) lurking in many processed foods. A handy app is Animal-Free or simply Google the strange-sounding names. For E numbers, check against here.

Here are some examples:

  • Cochineal/Carmine/Natural red colouring – Red food colouring made from crushed red insects.
  • Isinglass – Fish bladder extract used to distill alcoholic drinks.
  • Rennet – Cow’s stomach lining extract used in cheeses.
  • Gelatine – Gelling agent made from melted animal bones used in gummies.
  • Vitamin D3 – Sheep’s wool or fish liver extract often added in juice.
  • Bone char – Animal bones, a slaughterhouse by-product used in sugar refining process to make white sugar. Widely used local brand SIS is bone char free. When in doubt, use unrefined sugar.
  • Castoreum – Fake vanilla flavouring usually called ‘natural vanilla flavours’. Extracted from beaver anal glands.

If you’re into junk food, Accidentallyvegan instagram features processed foods and snacks in local supermarkets and convenience stores that are vegan. The girls behind this account have read the ingredients for you!

Contact me if I missed out anything.

Next > How to eat out in a social setting?

How to be a Herbivore in SG Part 3 – How to cook?

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Previous: 01 why vegan . 02 nutrition . Next: 04 groceries . 05 social eating . 06 eating at hawker centres . 07 challenges and support .

You may realise that it will be harder to meet your nutritional needs if you almost always eat out. Making food gives you full control and more access to nutrients at a cheaper price. Keep in mind that 1) I am not a medical/nutritional professional, always consult one if unsure AND 2) advice here may not work for everyone, as we are all unique individuals with different needs.

Note: This article contains reward links to products from iherb.com. I’ve tried these products and genuinely like them, hence I can recommend. If you purchase from my links you will get 5% off the next order and I will get 5% rewards credit, thanks in advance if you do! 🙂

All about balance

Whether you’re eating out or cooking, a balanced meal should include these nutrient categories (unless you’re on a diet prescribed by a medical professional):

  1. Carbohydrates
    – Rice, bread, pasta, rice noodles, wheat noodles, starchy plants (potato, pumpkin, sweet potato). Not all carbs are bad. If you blanket ban yourself (unless on doctor’s orders), you’re missing out the nutrients in good carbs that are vital to function well. Unrefined carbs are the better choice. Less white and more brown!
  2. Protein
    – Any bean, nuts, seeds and gluten (seitan/面筋) foods.
  3. Vitamins and fiber
    – Any fruits, green veggies, non-green veggies, root veggies, sea veggies and mushrooms. Important to eat your colours! And, fruits SHOULD NOT be equated with refined sugar. The way to eat less sugar, is simply eat less sweet foods with ADDED sugar.
  4. Good fats
    – First press plant oils (Extra virgin cold pressed olive/coconut oil), avocados, coconut milk, nuts, nut butters and seeds. A small amount is enough. Choose a whole food over processed oil whenever possible.
balancedmeal_beehoon
Here, brown rice noodles makes the carbs, mushrooms and veggies gives vitamins and tempeh is the protein source.

For in-between meals, there’s plenty of vegan eats we can buy easily from supermarkets or foodcourts:

  1. Snacks – nuts, granola bars, nut bars, fruits, dried fruits, seaweed snacks, dark chocolates (most are vegan, check label), local desserts (pulut hitam, bo bo cha cha etc), local kueh and fritters (most are vegan, double-check with seller), beancurd (tauhua), local jellies (agar is used instead of gelatine), chips and (occasionally) accidentally vegan junk food. (Yes SG oreos are vegan!)
  2. Drinks – non-dairy smoothies, soymilk (Silk Chocolate and Natura vanilla are my favs), nut milks, oat milk (Oatly Chocolate IS AMAZING), juices (go for freshly juiced ones instead of bottled), tea and coffee with non-dairy creamers (most coffee places have soymilk option), non-dairy bubble teas (pearls and jellies are made from tapioca and agar).

 

mrbean_icecream
I enjoy junk foods 20% of the time – like this ice cream from Mr Bean.
jap_snacks
Many supermarkets have vegan snacks like these daifuku, adzuku ice cream, mikan juice and soy red tea from Jmart.

 

Putting together a meal

You don’t have to cook well to eat well. Firstly, cooking is a common sense understanding of 1) how long to heat things (hard ingredients = longer time) and 2) what foods goes with what flavours (blueberries might not work in miso soup right?).

My tips to maximize time and money for the best nutrition and taste:

1) Use ‘fast’ ingredients

Use ingredients that are:

  1. Little washing & peeling needed – Rinse with baking soda to remove pesticides. Plants like mushrooms, cucumbers, french beans, tomatoes, most fruits that’s got no skin or edible skin, no roots, visible sand and mud need minimal preparations!
  2. No cutting involved – Soft or crisp veggies (bak choy, spinach, broccoli etc), tofu, beancurd skin can be broken into smaller pieces by hand. No knife and chopping board to wash up!
  3. Ready-to-cook – Can be used immediately after removing from packaging. Frozen edamame, frozen veggies, sprouts (alfalfa, wasabi, broccoli sprouts), canned beans, dried seaweed sheets, pickles, plant milks and condiments are completely fuss-free.

Plants that take much longer to prepare but important to include in your meals:

  1. Dried legumes firstly need to be soaked for shorter cooking times, less digestive trouble and more nutrition. Canned ones are more costly and less fresh. Soaking can take a few hours to overnight depending on variety and soaking water MUST be discarded. Cooking times vary too. Here’s a detailed guide to cooking legumes commonly found in Singapore and detailed steps using pressure cooker and recipe ideas. The cooking water can be used as soup stock – just add salt and spices.
  2. Dried mushrooms and hard seaweeds like kelp, need to be softened before cooking. Wash and soak for at least half hour with warm water, remove mushroom stalks then wash again in case there is sand. Don’t throw away the soaking liquid – use as a vegetable stock. For softer seaweeds like wakame, washing once is usually enough to soften it for cooking.
  3. Starchy plants (potatoes, yam, pumpkin, sweet potatoes etc) takes time to be cooked. Duration varies depending on heating method, variety, size of cut, and temperature. Steaming with skin is the fastest and healthiest way. To check for doneness, poke the centre with fork or chopstick. If it sinks in or cuts easily, its done.

2) Food prep

Food prep is preparing ingredients in advance to make your daily cooking faster and easier. Take a couple hours on weekends for food prep to reduce weekday stress.

foodprep

  • Wash in bulk: Wash veggies/fruits and portion them into containers or bags. Can also be frozen and thus kept for long. Soft leafy greens and mushrooms can spoil if refrigerated after washing so freeze instead.
  • Boil then freeze: For hard-to-cook foods like starches and legumes, cook in bulk. Portion and freeze them, taking some out whenever needed.
  • Cook carbs in advance:
    Cooked grains, starches and noodles can be refrigerated (up to 2 – 4 days max) or frozen (for months). If freezing, separating into individual portions in bags or boxes is a MUST.
  • Buy frozen: Ready to use, no washing and cutting needed. Frozen edamame and the classic corn peas carrots are found in most local supermarkets. Larger supermarkets might carry frozen broccoli, spinach and smoothie fruit packs, yum!
  • Preserve and pickle: Make a huge bulk of fermented or pickled veggies so there’s a tasty raw side dish during the week. They can keep for weeks in the fridge too.
  • Cut and portion: Unlike veggies and fruits which oxidize after cutting, proteins like tofu, tempeh can be cut in advance without much nutrient loss. Separate large blocks into smaller cubes and refrigerate or freeze them. Frozen firm tofu has a great texture and absorbs sauces better. For more flavour, marinate in different sauces then bake or saute.

3) Making ‘fast’ food

One-pot meals

Everything is made in a single pot. Minimal smoke is produced which keeps the kitchen clean too. Refer to my guide written last year to making Asian one-pots focusing on pantry basicsflavours and textures and cooking times.

onepotmeal
One-pot porridge: Carbs – Sweet potato, rice. Protein: Braised navy beans. Vitamins: Cherry tomatoes, spring onions.

If you have no access to a stove, a mini electric cooker is a great idea. Small size, affordable, easy to clean AND it can boil and steam at the same time. I used to use it in office everyday to make one-pot lunches, steamed veggies and buns.

If you don’t have a stove or electric cooker, fret not. As long as you have any source of heat, you can make a decent hot meal.

Microwaving

I barely use them as there is evidence that it turns molecular structure of foods into something our bodies don’t recognise. It also doesn’t taste as good as food cooked on direct heat. Still, good to use when you’re in an emergency! Note that:

  1. ONLY use glass and plastics labeled microwave safe to heat food. DO NOT USE METAL.
  2. Gluten foods (pizza, breads, buns) can dry out and harden while reheating. Add about 1 teaspoon water per piece into the container during cooking.

Toaster oven

They can do much more than reheating breads. Note that I’m referring to toaster OVEN not toaster for bread slices. In my house it even replaced the microwave completely. I treat it like a junior oven that can be used like an oven except for roasting starchy plants and baking.

Things to note:

  1. Always line the tray with aluminum foil or use a stainless steel plate. Don’t heat food directly on the oven tray as it will permanently be stained. I don’t recommend parchment paper. The heat source is close to the paper and that might burn it and become a fire hazard.
  2. Exercise common sense and wear kitchen gloves while removing the tray after heating. It’s HOT!
  3. Preheating will help to shorten cooking times. Before starting your meal preparation, turn the time dial and let it run.

Here’s some simple foods I cook in the toaster oven:

  • Toasted mushrooms & veggies: Simply wash them and mix in a bowl with 1 tsp oil + ½ tsp salt + any spice. Toast for 10-15mins until soft and juicy.
image
Made this for a colleague last time. Onions with black pepper and Sheese, lady fingers and edamame heated for 15 mins. Most plants can be toasted, as long as they are soft, crisp, not hard like raw potatoes and broken into smaller pieces.
  • Toasted garlic tempeh: Crumble or cut a block of tempeh into small pieces, mix with 2 tsp oil + ½ tsp salt + crushed or sliced garlic. Toast for 10 mins until lightly browned.
  • Sambal tempeh: Cut a block of tempeh into bite sized pieces, mix with 2 tsp oil + 1tbsp vegan sambal + juice from 1 lime. Toast for 10-12 mins until juicy and fragrant.
  • Pizza toast: Coat 2 slices of bread lightly in oil and place on aluminium foil lined tray. Spread any sauce, add sliced veggies/proteins of your choice, top evenly with crumbled vegan cheese and sprinkle with spices. Toast for 15-20 mins or until cheese melts.
Used to make these in the office toaster oven for colleagues. Mushroom floss pizza toast with cherry tomatoes and portobellos, sprinkled with crushed toasted laksa leaves. Fresh herbs, when toasted without oil, become very aromatic and crisp, making them an excellent topping.
  •  “Fried” rice/noodles: Mix a bowl of cooked rice/noodles with ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp oil, any preferred spice, sauce and finely chopped veggies and proteins of your choice. Toast for 10-15min until the centre is hot (check by either touch or taste). Great way to clean up leftovers!

Using Hot Water to Cook

This is inspired by instant noodles and much more wholesome. Simply add boiling water to cover all ingredients, put a lid on and wait 5-10 minutes till everything softens. This is extremely useful when traveling.

Here’s a list of ingredients that can be cooked this way:

Carbs: Thin non-wheat noodles (bee hoon or tung hoon), quick cook wheat noodles (快熟面), cooked rice and grains, instant oatmeal.

Proteins: Tofu, tempeh, seitan, pre-cooked legumes, ready-to-eat beancurd snacks (from Chinese vegetarian groceries).

Veggies: Green leafy veggies (usually stems may be too tough to be cooked thoroughly), thinly sliced crisp veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers etc), freeze-dried veggies, kimchi (or any other pickled/fermented veggie).

Mushrooms and seaweeds: Ready-to-eat dried mushrooms snacks (from Chinese vegetarian groceries and Japanese shops), fresh enoki mushroom, seaweed snacks.

Condiments and seasonings: Any savoury sauce (soy sauce, chilli sauce, pasta sauce), fermented beancurd, miso, powdered spices, spice mixes, vegan MSG-free seasoning powder, nutritional yeast.

Toppings: Toasted nuts, dried roasted seaweed, vegan soy floss (from Chinese vegetarian groceries, chopped herbs (chives, parsley, coriander), deep-fried onion (炸葱头), preserved veggies (like chye poh or achar).

Some instant lunchboxes I packed to a no-cooking office I used to work at:

1 – Cooked rice and green beans with sliced tomatoes, flaxseed powder, chopped cilantro, himalayan salt, white pepper powder.

2 – Brown rice noodles with steamed sweet potato chunks, silken tofu cubes, bok choy leaves, lemon slice, curry powder mix and himalayan salt.

3 – Dried kway chap (flat rice noodle) with baked tempeh, frozen sweet corn, dill, sliced green chilli, fermented beancurd and white pepper powder.

4 – White rice vermicelli with cherry tomatoes, sautéed tempeh crumbles, goji berries, sliced green chillis, frozen sweet corn, white pepper powder, black pepper powder, ginger powder and himalayan salt.

5 – Green bean vermicelli with cherry tomatoes, sauteed tempeh, toasted pumpkin seeds, dill, ground black pepper, ginger powder and miso.

6 – Brown rice noodles with boiled chickpeas, carrot, toasted tempeh bits, spicy red beancurd (nam yee) and chopped spring onions.

Since no high heat is used, nutrients in the plants are well retained. However it will be less tasty than cooking with oil and high heat. So flavour needs to come from the soup base – mix and match fermented sauces with lots of spices and herbs for best taste.

“Salad” bowls

Being Chinese, my definition of salad is not a bowl of raw vegetables. In Asia, hot dishes are preferred but there are some foods meant to be served at room temperature or chilled. They are often appetizers or summer dishes with strong flavours and a mix of cooked and raw, like Malay kerabu, Thai som tam and Chinese liangpi. Like most Singaporeans, I’m not a fan of Western salads so I use Asian condiments and spices with both raw and cooked ingredients. They can be prepared in advance with anything on hand and hence make a great lunchbox (dressing must be kept separate or ingredients will get soggy).

My tips to a balanced bowl that’s NOT lettuce and mustard:

Base – My preference is carbohydrates (cooked pasta, noodles, rice) but I know friends who love a bed of leafy greens – why not! Make your own rules.

Add softness – My favorites are chestnuts and soft tofu. Well-cooked fluffy legumes and starches are great too.

Add protein – Tofu/tempeh/seitan, cooked legumes, nuts and seeds.

Add interest – Dried fruits, sauteed mushrooms/garlic, fermented foods, wasabi, pickles, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, spices and herbs, toasted nuts and seeds. Anything you love to make you feel excited to dig in!

Add texture – Hard or crisp veggies (cucumber, bell pepper, carrots), crunchy or juicy fruits (apples, pear, jackfruit).

Dressing – Find a balance between sweet, sour, savoury and creamy. Sweet can come from dates, juice and syrups, sour can be from citrus fruit juices and vinegars. Savoury can be from salt or any savoury sauce, and creamy is from nut butters, hummus, avocado, blended silken tofu or non dairy yogurts. Experiment with your favourite combinations by blending or mixing in a bowl for a quick sauce. Top with fresh or dried spices and herbs for extra taste!

coldnoodles
Cold noodles that needed just 10min cooking. Black rice noodles tossed in soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil, premade kimchi, toasted tempeh crumbles and raw mint leaves.

Possibilities are endless

Anything can be veganized, there are endless online recipes and resources to help you with that. If you want to explore international flavours, here are some recipe apps that can help.

3 meals a day means nearly 87,000 meals by the age of 80. A lifetime of dependence on our grandma, mother, partner, commercial eateries or profit-driven corporations for a
basic need isn’t ideal – proven by studies on the rise of chronic diseases related to diet over past centuries.

That’s why making good food is an important self-care life skill.

Keep trying new ingredients, methods and combinations. Worse thing that can happen (if you remember to turn off the heat) is a bad tasting but still edible meal. Make every meal a contribution to your well-being.

Next > buying affordable groceries in our little red dot.

How to Be a Herbivore in Singapore Part 2 – Where to get nutrients?

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Previous: 01 why vegan . Next: 03 cooking . 04 groceries . 05 social eating . 06 eating at hawker centres . 07 challenges and support .

I wrote this from my experience and research as a long-time veg*n (vegetarian then vegan) living in Singapore. I’m not a health professional so this is not medical advice. Do your research and make your own conclusions, if I made any factual mistakes please let me know 🙂

Note: This article contains reward links to products from iherb.com. I’ve tried these products and genuinely like them, hence I can recommend. If you purchase from my links you will get 5% off the next order and I will get 5% rewards credit, thanks in advance if you do! 🙂

“But iron, protein and calcium come only from meat!” Well..not true! Every single plant is highly nutritious in it’s unprocessed form. Take the humble spinach for example, it has at least 33 health benefits – including iron, protein and calcium.

Protein

More protein doesn’t always mean good. A rough guide from the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is minimally 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for the average adult, depending on your activity levels. Anything more over a long period of time can be harmful. Published health studies like Proteinaholic and The China Study linked excess animal protein to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, obesity as well as disordered kidney function, bone and calcium imbalance. With a  developed country’s lifestyle it’s easy to overshoot the healthy amount, hence the prevalence of  first-world diseases.

Plant protein is much more than soy. Almost every plant food has protein, just less or more. Here’s a non-exhaustive list (because listing everyone will be too long) of them that are mostly easy to find and affordable in Singapore. (If you aren’t sure where to find email me):

High-protein:

  • Soy-based – Tofu, tempeh, textured soy protein (TVP), edamame,
    beancurd pudding (a.k.a. tau hua), beancurd skin (tau kee), soymilk.
  • Gluten-based – Seitan (a.k.a vital wheat gluten or 面筋 ), wholewheat breads/pasta/noodles.
  • Grains – Millet, barley, oats, all wholegrain rice (brown, red, black rice), etc.
  • Non-soy legumes – all legumes (petai, red & green beans, green peas, chickpeas, black eyed peas, kidney beans, dhals and lentils, , peanuts – they are not nuts, etc).
  • Nuts – Cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts (all nuts are high protein, listed here are the cheaper ones).
  • Seeds – Quinoa, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lotus seeds, tahini, boiled jackfruit seeds (try it it’s yum!), etc.

Less protein but don’t skip them! (you’ll see why soon):

  • Veggies – Sprouts (soy/green bean sprouts), starches (pumpkin, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pumpkin, yam), broccoli, corn, spinach, string beans, french beans, sweet peas,
    holland peas etc.
  • Fungi & algae – All mushrooms (oyster, enoki, woods ear etc) and seaweeds (wakame, kelp etc) have varied amounts of protein.
  • Fruits – Coconut meat, guava, dates, avocados, durian, jackfruit, banana, prunes, etc.

Unsure of amounts? Google “(food name) protein” for USDA’s estimates or use a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal. What all these sources do not have is cholesterol!

About protein combining

Protein is made of 9 amino acids. Most plant proteins are known as incomplete proteins, as rarely do plants contain all 9. It has been an old myth from 1971 that vegetarians and vegans must combine protein sources but newer studies shown that it isn’t necessary. A healthy body knows how to store and balance the amino acids from plants with any amount of protein. There’s no need to eat all 9 aminos within a bite. In fact there are good sources of complete proteins – hemp, chia, spirulina, soybeans, quinoa, buckwheat etc. Thus, getting enough calories from varied and minimally processed foods is important!

If you’re an athlete, vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke has an excellent introduction to plant-based fitness. Singapore-based athletes Luke and Emilie Tan spoke about how going plant-based was the main factor for increased performance. Personally I know many Singaporean vegan runners and they consume high amounts of fruits and veggies!

Luke

(Local bodybuilder Luke Tan won 1st overall for Spartan Race 2016 opens.)

Iron

Dried beans and dark green leafy veggies taken with Vitamin C are the best iron sources – even higher per calorie than animal sources. It’s true that our body absorbs plants’ iron less efficiently – but no worries, there’s an easy hack. Simply eat iron-rich plants with a good source of Vitamin C in a meal to ensure max absorption!

Avoid:

  1. Taking tea, coffee and calcium-rich foods at the same time as an iron source they inhibit iron absorption.
  2. Heating the source as heat destroys most of it.

Some iron-rich food combinations:

  • Rice and beans stew topped with tomato sauce, chopped raw chilli and coriander.
  • Steamed or blanched dark greens with lemon, lime or orange juice dressing.
  • Tofu (it’s made from a bean!) and broccoli stir fry drizzled with lime juice or garnished with raw chilli, coriander or parsley.
  • Edamame with lime juice, sesame oil and soy sauce dip.
  • Red dates and longan tea sweetened with black sugar is a traditional Chinese way to increase blood and energy especially in menstruating and pregnant women. DIY for the most nutrition and taste!
  • Or eat any iron source with a fruit or juice.

Eating foods cooked in iron cookware can add a small boost but don’t depend purely on that.

Calcium

Surprise: Calcium is literally everywhere.

Studies have also shown that:

  1. Cow’s milk likely leech calcium from our bones. Because of the acidic animal protein, our own bone calcium is used to neutralize it.
  2. Though some vegans may have less calcium and protein intake, their bone density is fine.

Many grains, legumes, leafy greens, fruits, nuts and other veggies plus fortified vegan foods (non-dairy milks, cereals, granola) have plentiful calcium. It’s equally important to get enough exercise and sunlight plus reduce salt and caffeine to utilize the calcium.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids

There are 3 types of omega-3:

  • ALA – found in many plant foods.
  • EPA – found in fish, easily converted from ALA.
  • DHA – mostly found in fish and very little seaweed, less easily converted from ALA.

Omega-6 is plenty in a plant-based diet and it inhibits omega 3 absorption to some degree.
Omega-3 is still being studied. To be on the safe side, researchers advice vegans to:

  1. Take less omega-6 (Eat less high omega 6 oils like corn, soy, grapeseed, sunflower. Use olive, peanut, canola instead.)
  2. Take more high omega-3 foods (Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts)
  3. Consider an algae-derived DHA supplement when needed, like if one is allergic to high omega-3 foods or during old age, pregnancy or breastfeeding. (where do you think fish
    get their omega fatty acids?)

A recent study found that in populations which had a history of plant-based diets, some people have a “vegetarian gene” that evolved to help the body utilize omega-3 and 6 more efficiently. 70% of South Asians, 53% in Africans, 29% East Asians and 17% Europeans have it. Since we can’t be certain if we have it or not, I think it’s still safest to get a good level through food.

 

Vitamin B12

This is the ONLY nutrient that has no proof of any plant sources yet.

B12 is naturally made by bacteria in water and soil. In modern times our plant foods are scrubbed clean of earth. Unless you eat organic unwashed veggies (which I don’t advice due to chances of contamination from other bacteria). So take a supplement regularly. Your local pharmacy surely has it affordably or you can get fancier ones (flavoured lozenges, liquid drops etc) from iHerb. I take a lozenge every week and my B12 levels have been tested to be good.

 

Vitamin D

There are 2 types of vitamin D – D2 and D3. Because both are rare in natural foods and modern people are often indoors, it can be an issue for everyone, vegan or not.

D2:

  1. Sun exposed mushrooms. Place any mushrooms under sunlight (like on open window sill) for 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Fortified vegan drinks and cereals. Common brands sold here (Natura, Rice Dream, Silk, Pacific, Almond Breeze) often has added D2 (plus other nutrients). Food sources of D3 are from sheep’s wool so look out for that in ingredients lists.
image

(fortified non-dairy milk found at NTUC finest)

D3 :

  1. Direct sun exposure – According to the Singapore Health Promotion Board, let sun shine onto
    uncovered arms and legs for 5-30mins (darker your skin is, the longer you need to be exposed) twice a week is enough. D3 is found to be the better vitamin D. So go out more!
  2. Vegan supplements – if you can’t get either from sun (like during winter) or foods, consider taking one. Do not overdose as too much is toxic, seek advice from a professional if unsure.

 

 

Iodine & Selenium

These 2 minerals are slightly trickier. Both too little and too much of can cause serious health issues. Amounts in produce highly depend on how much iodine and selenium the soil had, thus it can be an issue for everyone too.

Iodine – Many countries add iodine to table salt to prevent deficiency but in Singapore that isn’t
compulsory. Best sources are sea algae, also known as seaweeds. Since ancient times, kelp, kombu, wakame, hijiki and nori have been a staple in most Asian cuisines. They are also rich in fiber, proteins, iron and vitamins.

Selenium – The richest plant source is brazil nuts, just 2 nuts is enough for an average adult’s daily needs. If you can’t confirm whether your food is grown in selenium rich soil, snack on some brazil nuts now and then but think twice about taking a supplement unless on doctor’s advice. I get them here.

 

Zinc

Legumes, nuts, seeds and grains have zinc, yet they also have phytates which reduces zinc absorption. Not to worry as there are many food combinations and preparation techniques to solve that! Vegans are generally not found to be deficient in zinc.

  1. Soaking, then sprouting or cooking legumes, nuts, seeds, grains greatly reduce phytates and will unlock a multitude of other nutrients. Many cultures have been doing – bean sprouts are staple in East Asia and Indians soak legumes before cooking. Here’s more on the detailed methods of preparing them for max nutrition.
  2. Fermenting increases zinc absorption. Examples are breads made with yeast and fermented soy (tempeh, miso, fermented beancurd).
  3. Protein and vitamin C (citric acid) help increase absorption too. Thus legumes are a great choice as they are rich in protein and zinc.

The bottom line

Going animal-free means you’ll need to pay more attention to your diet and lifestyle. Only if you are truly unable to do so, consider supplementing with fortified foods or vitamin pills as a last resort. If not, eat whole plant foods as much as possible as our bodies are meant to do so. On a well-planned diet with sufficient sun exposure and exercise, the only supplement needed is B12. 

If you’re a typical Singaporean eating mostly at hawker centres, you may find it harder to get all the nutrition. That’s where the DIY food part comes in to help you!

Next: Cooking for the time and budget conscious.

How to Be a Herbivore in Singapore Part 1 – The big WHY?

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Next: 02 nutrition .  03 cooking . 04 groceries . 05 social eating . 06 eating at hawker centres . 07 challenges and support .

Here’s a series of resource posts intending to help the vegan-curious, new and struggling vegans navigate their journey in Singapore.  Changing lifestyle habits takes unlearning and relearning. There will be challenges. Set goals and take it a step at a time.

This first post is to explain the reasons people go vegan. Knowing the whys are important because:

1) If you’re not interested in this but have vegan loved ones, you’ll make their lives SO MUCH easier by understanding and supporting. I’ve seen many friends go through much emotional turmoil over this choice – from being alienated by friends and family to being threatened by their own parents.

2) If you want to change, this knowledge can strengthen your resolve, inspire and take you further.

3) I want to clear the misconception that we are either health freaks or misanthropes – Animal welfare isn’t always the first push factor and “healthy eating” isn’t in every vegan’s vocabulary.

There are 20,000 species of edible plants worldwide; the misconception that vegetarians/vegans eat only vegetables needs to be out. The other edible non-animal food groups are grains, legumes, fruits, seeds and nuts, fungi and algae (actually, botanically speaking the last 2 aren’t even plants). Plenty and abundant.

Why on Earth did these tree hugging, kale chomping (I don’t even like kale) people give up fried
chicken? 3 main reasons:

Health

It’s proven that by not taking animal products one cuts down on growth hormones, cholesterol, saturated fat, uric acid, carcinogens, etc. It’s also getting out there that dairy isn’t as nurturing as we thought. A well-planned plant-based diet can be as nutritious with lower inflammation, stroke, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes risk.

For me, going from being a junk food vegetarian to junk food vegan then (mostly) whole foods vegan was a major step in improving my childhood irritable bowel syndrome, as well as:

  • Less fever and flu. Used to catch one few times a year now once every few years.
  • Less acne and oily skin. Needed to use oil blotting sheets daily now I don’t need them.
  • No more sugar cravings now.
  • No more frequent headaches.
  • Less acid reflux and no more random attacks of painful diarrhea.
  • Lots more energy without coffee – very helpful in productivity-crazed Singapore.
  • Exercise drained me and now it’s a hobby – can’t start the day without some.
  • Better mood, generally happier.
  • Increased appetite and foods tastes much better.

Environment

Based on numerous scientific studies, animal agriculture is extremely inefficient. It’s a huge burden on our planet’s land, water, forests, a contributor to world hunger and climate change. In fact, going animal-free generates the smallest diet-related carbon footprint as seen here:

(Shrinkthatfootprint)

Many people see little hope in certain people at important meetings to solve environmental issues, thus they take action on a personal level.

image

(Monkey Parliament by Banksy)

Singapore is highly vulnerable to climate change. Rising seas threaten our land mass, increasing temperatures breed more dengue mosquitoes, more dry months means worse yearly haze and food prices will rise due to unpredictable weather causing lower yields. We can do so much more in addition to the usual drive less, off lights, recycling etc.

Ethics

People are outraged over animal testing and fur as many cosmetics, tobacco, household products are made on by a cruel process. Major public outcry over the mistreatment of animals for entertainment. What most might not know is that production of meat, fish, milk and eggs is more outrageous. Won’t it be nice if it’s like what people think: cows and chickens run on grassy fields milking and laying eggs then tranquilized and killed. But it’s not true. Since we have compassion and vote with our dollars, the industry makes sure the process of making animals into food is hidden. Here’s the link that explains all briefly and it’s not graphic. That’s why people who chance upon the truth, cannot bring themselves to support the animal farming industry or other forms of exploitation anymore.

Whoever passed the law that says a human can’t torture cats and dogs but okay to force beagles to smoke 30 cigarettes a day, mince “useless” male chicks alive and kill newborn male calves just because they can’t make milk, you’re proof that evolution can reverse.

1-1

(Vegetarian Society Singapore)

 

Watch

If you don’t prefer to read, these are highly informative documentaries that address all 3 aspects of the plant-based lifestyle. They are highly responsible for turning meat-lovers into herbivorous creatures within hours – you’ve been warned.

image

 

The intention

Try your best, don’t pursue perfection. When we walk, insects die, when we eat veggies, we ingest toxic chemicals. Our food may also be made by child labour. We still need to use energy so we’re contributing to climate change. As long as we exist, it is inevitable to cause unintentional suffering or death to other human or non-human beings AND damage to the Earth. Best we can do is minimize it. Hence the definition of “Veganism” as stated by The Vegan Society

“…a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food,
clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment.

Everybody’s reasons for change are different. I know vegans who love the health benefits and vegan junk foodies who are 100% passionate about animal welfare and 0% about health. I know people who eat and live like that and prefer the term “plant-based” – that’s fine! I know people who are flexible – vegan as much as possible unless in certain situation. Go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. As long as one reduces animal consumption in any way, that’s awesome and keep doing it! My favourite way to describe this lifestyle is borrowed from an Aboriginal saying: “Touch the Earth lightly.”

Next > Nutrition on a vegan lifestyle