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 traditionsâ€¦ 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 todayâ€™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 â€“ 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 â€œfoodâ€? animals are being consumed while more â€œpetâ€? animals are being abandoned as pet owners who have lost their interest in them find it convenient to â€˜disposeâ€™ 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 â€œmeatâ€? 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 wonâ€™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 caseâ€¦as I am not always eating the healthiest foodâ€¦ 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 â€œNew Asian Traditionsâ€?. All recipes are vegan!
The Vegetarian Society (Singapore) can be contacted via email at email@example.com for further information and inquiries. Alternatively, you may browse the societyâ€™s web page at www.vegetarian-society.org .
Is there a dish you miss? Or perhaps you've already come up with a vegan version of it. Please elaborate.
I canâ€™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 havenâ€™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.