Practical Issues > Health - Index > Vegan Index

Another wei
It ain't hard to be a Vegan
October 31, 2005

TUESDAY is World Vegan Day, so put aside your steak knife and head for the veggie patch.

You know vegetables have become hip when the claymation duo Wallace and Gromit get passionate about pumpkins and zucchini.

There are many different types of vegetarians - vegans, in addition to avoiding meat and fish, abstain from animal products like eggs and dairy products, as well as products tested on animals or made from animals, like leather or beeswax.

Many turn vegan because they object to the killing of animals.

Web editor Zeph Shen, 31, said: 'I turned vegetarian overnight 11 years ago, when I realised the impact my diet had on the welfare of animals, my health and the environment.

'Meat is just an illogical choice. I did not want to play any minute part in the suffering of animals.'

Mrs Helga Koh, 53, turned vegan only at the age of 50, after 'finally having the courage to listen to my inner voice'.

She added: 'There is so much suffering in this world, why add to it? There is absolutely no need for us to imprison, torture and slaughter our fellow animals.'

And being vegan in Singapore is easier than you think.

Communications engineer Sendhuran, 24, said: 'Its even easier (here) than in traditionally vegetarian-friendly places like India because you have many Chinese vegetarian stalls and they don't use dairy.'

Mr Sendhuran recommends the creative vegetarian/vegan stalls at Circuit Road Hawker Centre.

He said: 'It is a one-stop vegan paradise!

'They have all kinds of vegan versions of laksa, wanton noodle, satay, otah, char siewpau, prata, yong tau fu, rojak.'

Financial trader Chris Turner, 42, who has been an organic raw vegan for 10 years, has this amusing episode to relate, from Australia.

He said: 'My brother and his family, who are big meat eaters, were joining my mum for dinner. I surreptitiously asked my mum to relax and allow me to prepare dinner - a vegan 'beef bolognaise'.

'Everyone, especially my brother, complimented my mum on a great meal.

'My mum let the cat out the bag and told my brother that there was no meat in the dish. Without saying a word, he got out of his seat and promptly thawed a steak from the freezer.'

If you are keen to try being a vegan, yoga teacher Vivienne Spanopoulos advises that you change your current diet one step at a time.

Ms Spanopoulos, 42, a vegan for three years and a vegetarian for 10, said: 'If you have an average diet, begin by not eating red meat.

'The next step may be to either eliminate chicken and seafood or remove processed foods, excess sugar and white flour.

'After that remove all dairy products and consider taking out tea, coffee and alcohol.'

During the transition, there can be some uncomfortable symptoms, usually lasting only a few days, as your body learns to do without certain foods.

You may briefly suffer headaches, irritability, weakness, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, acne or skin rashes.

Ms Spanopoulos explained: 'These processes are triggered as soon as the digestive system is given a chance to clean out, so the toxins that reside in the digestive tract are removed and eliminated through the lungs, skin and bowel.

'Once this occurs, the individual experiences a greater sense of well-being, usually an increase in energy and vitality, and less need or desire for meat and processed foods.'

PUMPKIN SOUP

HERE'S a delicious vegetarian dish you can try whipping up.

Just boil pumpkins (you can add other vegetables too, like sweet potato, carrot or celery).

For flavour, add any of these: ginger, cardamom, coriander, chilli, garam masala, or Braggs (a soy-based salt substitute).

When the pumpkin is cooked, blend soup and serve with fresh coriander or parsley.

If you like it creamy, you can add soy milk before removing it from the stove.

There is a new vegetarian cookbook, New Asian Traditions, out in the bookstores.

You can also order the book directly from the Vegetarian Society (Singapore).

For more details, visit www.Vegetarian-Society.org

World Vegan Day

WORLD Vegan Day is held on 1 Nov every year. It was started by The Vegan Society of the UK in 1994 to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Since then, in the UK and around the world, events of all types and sizes have been held on this day to celebrate everything that is positive about a vegan lifestyle.

The word vegan is made up of the first two and last two letters of the word vegetarian and was coined in the UK in 1944, when the Vegan Society was founded.

The Vegan Society seeks to abolish man's dependence on animals, with its inevitable cruelty and slaughter.

Vegans do not eat the bodies of animals. They do not eat milk, eggs or honey either. Most vegans do not wear leather, wool or silk. A vegan eats a plant-based diet.

People usually become vegetarian either in an attempt to avoid causing the suffering and death of animals or to protect their health from the hazards of animal-borne infections, saturated fat and cholesterol.

As their understanding of the concept deepens, becoming vegan is the obvious next step.