You’ve probably become vegan for a few reasons.
You don’t believe that animals should have to die for your meals.
Or you might believe that it’s a more sustainable way to consume foods.
Whatever the reasons are, being vegan is not that easy in Singapore.
When I was living in the U.K., being vegetarian (not vegan), was easier. There were entire aisles marked with ‘vegan’, allowing me to choose mock meats and beautiful, juicy burgers to cook.
Moving back to Singapore, a food paradise, was different.
Being vegan in Singapore can be difficult, especially when you’re in the hawker centres, and you’re not sure what the hawker has placed to give you that all too delicious food.
Here’s how you can do it in Singapore.
Be a little kinder on yourself
If you’re a strict vegan, who insists on no cross-contamination (meaning that pans that have cooked meats cannot be used to cook your foods), good luck convincing your hawker uncle of that.
Be kind to yourself, even as you embark on your vegan diet in Singapore.
There are going to be times when there will be occasional contamination, and how I’ve learnt to live with it is to tell myself that no one is perfect, and that as much as I want to do right for the Earth, others are trying their best too.
Don’t try to change others
You’re going to encounter resistance from your loved ones, especially from your family.
They will talk about how you’re not getting enough protein, how you seem to be losing weight, and how you need to eat more meat.
Don’t try to change them.
It’s your life, and your decision, not theirs.
Don’t take the moral high ground
When I first became vegetarian in January 2019, I thought I was better than others who were not.
I thought I was ‘woke’ for taking the moral high ground of not eating animals, and I thought others who continued being omnivores were being cruel.
When people ask you
“Why are you vegetarian?”
It’s not an invitation to fight.
It’s just an invitation to share why you’ve made their decision, and not to change their eating preferences.
Instead, why not take the time to understand from them through questions like
What do you think of not eating animal products?
What do you think of people who are vegans or vegetarians?
You might prompt quite a good conversation.
Choosing restaurants with friends is about taking the initiative
Food is a big part of social life in Singapore, and you may find some friends being unhappy about your food preferences.
Even in restaurants, you will probably find yourself being greeted with a strange stare when you ask if they have anything vegan.
Rather than trying to tell your friends your preferences, take the initiative to find the restaurant that will work for you.
You’re probably part of the minority, and insisting that your friends find another restaurant for you may be more difficult.
Choose sustainable sources of food
Being vegan isn’t just about having no animal sourced products in your food.
But it’s also about being willing to find more sustainable sources for the food you eat.
This can mean finding foods that are upcycled from the by-products, rather than foods that are made from scratch.
An example is W0W Noodles, made from Kosmode Health, an agri-tech company based in Singapore.
W0W Noodlesis a food that’s made from spent barley grains, a by product of beer and malt production.
Rather than having to constantly grow new plants for your consumption, this allows you to eat more of what has already been produced.
Don’t burst your budget on fancy, upmarket supermarkets
Sure, you can go to places like Little Farms to have exclusive, premium aisles filled with vegan food.
But what might probably work better is to cook on your own, with the cheaper raw vegetables and vegan products like tofu that you can get from mainstream supermarkets like:
- Sheng Siong
- Prime Supermarket
Being vegan is not just about being sustainable, but also about financially sustainable, and being able to spend within your means.
Being vegan is not about the sacrifice, but the sustenance of our Earth
When I became a vegetarian, I often looked longingly at the foods that my friends were eating. The juicy pork.
The tender steak.
The delicious cod fish.
And I wondered what I was giving up when I chose a vegetarian diet.
It’s not about the sacrifice you make, nor the moral high ground you occupy when you eat vegan.
Rather, it’s about ensuring a more sustainable way to live on our Earth. One that doesn’t involve us constantly taking from our Earth.
But one that could involve us giving back to it.
Full disclosure: I was vegetarian from January 2019 to September 2019 and no longer label myself as vegetarian. However, I do eat a vegetarian diet 2 days a week.