Monthly Archives: October 2005

World Vegan Day

Tomorrow is World Vegan Day and there was an article on Veganism in yesterday’s The New Paper It ain’t hard to be a vegan“. The weight was more on the health benefits of being vegan, but overall good exposure and VSS cookbook was mentioned.

Here is my full reply to the email interview :

My name is Helga Koh and I am 53 years old. I am doing volunteer work such as helping to promote veg*nism (vegetarianism and veganism) and being the membership secretary of Vegetarian Society (Singapore)

How long you've been vegan for?

Sad to say, I only turned vegan at the age of 50, but better late than never J.

What prompted you to become vegan?

You mean why it took me so long? Maybe I finally had the courage to listen to my inner voice instead of blindly following traditions… There is much suffering in this world, why add to it? There is absolutely no need for us to imprison, torture and slaughter our fellow animals. In fact we are doing something good for our own health by following a strict vegetarian diet. The females of the species, such as cows and hens, suffer even more abuse in today’s factory farms, and for a longer time before they are also slaughtered at a faction of what would be their natural life span. Therefore eggs and milk are products of immense suffering.

Is it hard being a vegan in Singapore? Where do you go to get your supplies and products?

I think being vegan in Singapore is not really hard. It involves little inconveniences, such as spending extra time checking food labels. Vegan food is widely available at vegetarian restaurants, food centres and hawker stalls. I get most of my supplies at supermarkets or small neighbourhood shops. I buy organic food as and when I can afford. Some vegan convenience food can be quite costly, such as vegan cheeses but other delicious food items like tempeh, tofu and lentils cost even less than you would have to pay for animal meat.

So what do you eat when you get invited to parties?

It is always a good idea to bring a dish. Frankly, I do not fully enjoy some gatherings because of the amount of animal flesh that is being consumed on such occasions and I find the festive seasons - Christmas and Chinese New Year especially – to be sad occasions with pictures of the carcases of fowls and piglets staring at you from every paper and magazine. It is an even sadder occasion for animals as more “food? animals are being consumed while more “pet? animals are being abandoned as pet owners who have lost their interest in them find it convenient to ‘dispose’ of them during the busy festive preparations. In addition to causing immeasurable sufferings to their once-loved pets, it is sad that these people do not even realise that they are breaking the law by doing so as it is a punishable offence. Of course we still try to enjoy festivities and my family is always looking forward to a delicious nut loaf at Christmas and vegan Christmas cookies. Even the meat eaters love my delicious “meat? loaf! On Chinese New year we usually have a vegan version of steamboat and yu sheng.

Relate a funny or memorable incident being vegan, like for instance you may have had a strange reaction from someone, a family member, etc etc.

Well, when people come to know that I am German, they sometimes mention how much they like German sausages and ask where to get them in Singapore. Of course I know where to get them, but I won’t tell. Bad idea asking a vegan where to buy sausages!J

Do you guys get together often and what sort of activities does the group get up to?

I enjoy being around fellow vegans and vegetarians. We understand eac
h other and share common concerns. We often meet while volunteering for the Vegetarian Society or at outings organized by VSS where all the food is usually vegan.

Do you take supplements like B12?

I do take B12 supplements, though I do get some from fortified food, such as breakfast cereal and soya milk. As you get older, the body may not be as efficient in utilising the vitamin. I also supplement my diet with some Vitamin C, E and calcium, just in case…as I am not always eating the healthiest food… there is even vegan junk food!

Some people may be hesitant to turn vegan because they are afraid they may feel more tired, or there may be side effects. Are there any possible side effects? What would you say to convince them?

Why should a healthy vegan diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables have side effects? Any sudden change of diet may cause some temporary upset. If so, make the change gradually. Of course you can also be a junk food vegan, which would not be very healthy. Veganism is more then a diet and about personal health, it is a lifestyle, trying to do as little harm as possible, respecting our fellow animals and caring for the environment.

Can someone contribute an easy, simple to make and tasty vegan recipe?

I love a simple tempeh sandwich:

Season a piece of tempeh with some soya sauce and pepper and fry in a little vegetable oil. Place it on a slice of crusty bread (some breads may contain dairy products and bread improvers and dough conditioners that may not be vegan. You may want to check the ingredient labels). Add some lettuce, onion and tomato slices, mustard (without honey) and some pickles if you like.

There is also a wonderful new vegetarian cookbook out there in the bookstores, or you can order the book directly from Vegetarian Society (Singapore). Its called “New Asian Traditions?. All recipes are vegan!

The Vegetarian Society (Singapore) can be contacted via email at for further information and inquiries. Alternatively, you may browse the society’s web page at .

Is there a dish you miss? Or perhaps you've already come up with a vegan version of it. Please elaborate.

I can’t really think of a non-vegan dish that I miss, as most dishes can be easily veganized. Scrambled eggs become scrambled tofu and I make vegan pasta sauce and olive pesto, or even have sauerkraut with a vegan sausage for a simple German dish! I miss vegan cheese though, because I buy it only occasionally as a treat, and haven’t had some for quite a while. Most soya cheeses available at supermarkets contain casein (milk protein). I have tried the vegan cheddar slices, the mozzarella and cream cheese and love them all.


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Virus “Mixing Bowl”

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that cats could not play the role of “mixing bowl” for a new super virus!

I wonder what it takes before people stop eating animals…… The connection between SARS, bird flu and factory farming is so obvious. We are creating the ideal mixing bowls for the virus… but all we humans can think of is just killing more animals… Imagine that the deaths of millions of people could be prevented simply by people becoming vegetarians. A healthy and tasty solution!

Reports earlier this month that the virus had spread to pigs, with an immune system similar to humans’, turned out to be false.

Although the virus does not appear highly infectious for humans, health officials are worried that it could “mate” with a normal human flu strain to create a new highly dangerous bug against which people would have few defenses.

WHO said that unlike pigs, which can be infected at the same time with both the human and bird flu strains, cats could not play the role of “mixing-bowl” for a new super virus, such as the one that killed up to 50 million people world wide in 1918.

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No proof of link between cats and bird flu

Monday • October 31, 2005

Letter from Dawn Kua
Director of Operations
Cat Welfare Society

We refer to your article “Bird flu puzzle in Indonesia” (Oct 28). We are concerned that your article may give your readers the mistaken impression that cats are spreading the disease.

The article with the photo caption “A CAT-ASTROPHE?” may also spread alarm among the public.

What your article did not mention is that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Indonesian representative, Georg Petersen, said that the WHO has no reports of anyone contracting the virus from animals other than poultry and that no other animals, other than poultry or pig, are sources of the bird flu infection.

Mr Petersen also said that they are not yet concerned that animals, such as cats, may be spreading the disease.

Furthermore, Professor Michael Lai, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Southern California, has pointed out that given that avian flu has been around for a while, it cannot be that transmission of the virus occurs easily in cats.

We would otherwise have observed widespread flu infection in cats in areas where there have been cases of avian flu outbreaks. This did not happen.

While we do understand that the bird flu is a source of major concern for all of us, and we appreciate the coverage that your newspaper gives to it, we are concerned that misinformation can lead to undue alarm.

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Talk with the TC…

Dawn from CWS came to talk to our Town Council last week to explain the advantages of controlling the cat population through sterilisation as opposed to culling them. The talk went well and hopefully their mindset will change…Dawn also gave me much information materials and lent me a cat trap to catch the ‘wilder’ cats to get them sterilised..

Rocky has a new wound at his tail. Wonder if caused by fighting or abuse? Heard that the owner of the scratched car demands hat TC pays for the spraying of the car. How can people be so unreasonable? I worry about Rocky… maybe the cleaners have already been instructed to catch him… He is now outside my door most of the time… I guess he misses lying on the hammock in the big cage … but can’t keep him there for ever. At least he is safer up here at the corridor and less likely to get his wound infected. I am keeping his claws trimmed so I don’t think that he will scratch cars again.

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Nushi and Shasha…

Nushi has been getting more and more aggressive towards Shasha and chases her when Shasha makes a wrong move. I don’t think that Nushi is aggressive by nature but perhaps she is just curious and wants to follow Shasha wherever she goes. Nowadays, we keep the two cats in separate rooms at night, in hope that more personal space and freedom for each of them would help them to get along better. Shasha has become more timid ever since we brought her in. I think that it’s because she feels attacked and had become more defensive. She bites rather hard even when we stroke her gently! Nushi watches Shasha’s every move and does not even allow her to do her business in private! Nushi would be staring at Shasha intensely! However, once its time for their favourite ‘snackies’, they have no qualms sitting side by side and eating their tidbits.

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Three more cats sterilised this month

The first one to be sterilised was Pebbles (1st photo), as she was on heat and made a lot of noise. She recovered well but we had a hard time letting her go. She is one of those very affectionate cats that are just not meant to be left out there on their own…. easy targets…. easy prey…she is also young, I think less than a year old and she is very beautiful, the photo does not do her justice. Her fur is very soft and the gray and ginger patches are of a soft light pastel shade. If I only could keep her… and Boy Boy and Rocky, Baby… but it would not be fair to Nushi, so we won’t have more than 2 cats. Nushi and Shasha still have little fights and are not playing together, as we hoped they would… but maybe they need more time to get comfortable with each other.

Next was Howie (2nd photo), Shredder’s son, and then finally I managed to catch the big bad cat that keeps mauling Billy Boy. We call him Fighter. We actually had to transport him to the clinic in the cage as we could not transfer him to the carrier. He is one fierce cat! Let’s hope he will change his ways… and Billy Boy will get a break!


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