How To Start Going Vegan (in Singapore)
Hello! It's been awhile since I updated this space, and a lot has changed in my life (our diet, getting engaged, getting our home etc) and I just wanted to do a post about our vegan diet so far, and hopefully guide anyone else who's trying to turn vegan as well!
Why vegan diet?
Remembering why you're thinking of doing it in the first place is very important in guiding you in your vegan journey.
If you grew up eating meat, dairy and egg products (what we used to be familiar with), you'll really need reminders from yourself to stay on the vegan diet.
These are the 3 main reasons people turn to veganism:
✔️To stop harming animals
✔️To reduce your carbon footprint for the environment
✔️For the sake of your health
For Sean and I, we decided on eating a vegan diet for the animals.
I'll be honest with you, I used to eat a ton of meat (it was like 60% of my diet, and then rice and carbs).. so when we drew the link that eating meat was us indirectly paying someone to kill an innocent life for our meal, I was very lost about what I could even eat.
So we really took baby steps and transitioned gradually.
Here's how we did it:
Step 1: NORMAL EVERYDAY FOOD
Start with your usual comfort food.
If I were to tell you to transit from your comfort piping hot noodle soup to cold quinoa salad, you'll probably give up in 2 days.
We started with Laksa, no fishcake, no cockles, add more beansprout/ taupok.
Although the soup base has shrimps in it, at least it was a baby step in getting us used to asking for no meat.
Yong Tau Fu (the soup base may have ikan bilis in it), but choose fresh vegetable ingredients that do not contain the fish filling. Continue to enjoy it with the sauces.
Mala hotpot, choose non-meat ingredients. The kelp, mushrooms, kang kong, instant noodles all still taste fantastic with the mala sauce.
(some mala sauce may have used animal broth for their sauce, but one step at a time..)
Go to mixed rice stalls and order the chicken curry (without chicken), and just have the potatoes. Order tofu instead of eggs, order stir-fried broccoli without the prawns.
Ask auntie to give you more broccoli haha!
Step 2: START LOOKING OUT FOR VEGETARIAN STALLS
We're lucky to be in Singapore where there are many cuisines that offer vegetarian/ vegan options.
Many vegetarian places do understand that you're looking for vegan options when you ask if their food contains "milk or eggs", and they can advise you accordingly.
Download abillionveg app to look for vegetarian/ vegan options near you, read the reviews and type your own reviews as well!
Super helpful and the app is free.
Also, the app will donate $ to your chosen animal charity when you leave a review.
Head over to Fortune Center where it's like a vegetarian heaven, and you'll definitely be spoiled for choice!
Vegan HOKKIEN MEE (at Gokul, level 1), veg oyster omelette (vegepot level 3), veg bak kwa (at the shops at level 1), and soooo much more!
Step 3: START LOOKING OUT FOR FULL VEGAN SHOPS
I think it's a lot easier to be a vegan now than years back when all they had were starchy mock meats.
If you're worried about some vegetarian shops not being fully vegan, you can head over to this website where they list out full vegan F&Bs, and also vegan dishes that you can order from non-vegan establishments like Dunkin' Donuts, Coco Ichibanya, Cedele, Thai Express etc.
It's saved my life many times when I'm out and need my dinner!
Step 4: CHECK INGREDIENTS LIST
Having snacks that are vegan friendly really helps make our everyday lives so much better.
And there are many items in our supermarkets that are accidentally vegan.
The yummy Lotus caramelised biscuit, some Sunshine bread, some mooncakes, some chocolate chip cookies etc do not contain any animal ingredients.
At the beginning, Sean and I struggled to remember to check the ingredients list, but now it's become a habit for us.
Of course, we do still make mistakes now and then because certain chemical terms are derived from animals and we weren't aware. So we're still trying our best!
When in doubt, Google the ingredient names, or just look for products with simple and straightforward ingredients.
A helpful IG account to follow would be:
Step 5: PREPARE YOUR OWN FOOD
Regardless of what diet you're on, if you were to eat out everyday, it's clearly going to be quite pricey.
So being able to prepare your own meals definitely helps a lot!
And you can be sure of what ingredients go into the food.
Prepare simple & hearty meals.
For me, soups are my go-to dish to prepare at home.
1 big pot, throw in ingredients, cook plain rice, and done!
I buy a lot of those pre-packed chinese herbs to cook herbal soup at home using vegetables & vegetable stock.
There are also vegetarian sambal paste (no shrimp) for your fried rice, vegan laksa paste available online, chicken rice paste, vegetarian tom yum paste etc.
You can find them on Lazada, FairPrice app, https://www.friendlyvegetarian.com.sg/, or head over to Fortune Center to touch touch see see haha!
It's actually very exciting and amusing when you're like "OMG there's vegan XXXXXX leh!"
Little tip: Get a food processor or immersion blender, it's AWESOME!
Step 6: START EXPERIMENTING
When you get a little familiar with the vegan alternatives out there, you can conduct your own random experiments to see if you can achieve a vegan version of a dish you used to be familiar with.
Like who knew that canned bean water (aquafaba, yes the liquid people usually throw away) can be used to make macarons (usually made with egg whites)?
When you're open to trying out the properties of plant based ingredients, the possibilities are endless!
They say that mushrooms have the closest texture to meat.
So Sean and I usually slice up the king oyster mushroom thinly and fry them with bulgolgi sauce + black pepper to simulate our own Korean BBQ. Super shiok!
My carbonara pastas are usually made up of: soy milk, vegetable stock, oatmeal (for the thickness and creaminess), nutritional yeast (for fragrance and vitamin b12), garlic and onion, or whatever random stuff I can find in my kitchen cabinet.
We also tried making mac and cheese using cashew nuts and a mixture of other ingredients like tumeric, carrots etc!
Even Grand Hyatt & Shangri-La are now offering full vegan dishes for their customers.
This Battered Banana Blossoms & Chips really blew my mind because that's the original texture of the plant! Who would've known?
Of course, there are also more "processed" options like the heura mock chicken meat, Beyond Burger patties, or Impossible meat patties. These may not be as ideal for vegans who are doing it for their health, because usually they try to steer clear of processed foods.
But for Sean and I, we're the junk food vegans, we love them haha!
Step 7: SUPPLEMENTS
I'll be honest with you, we're really not familiar with this because even when we ate meat previously, we weren't big on supplements.
We try our best to eat a variety of greens for different vitamins and minerals, but the one vitamin that vegans are always reminded to consume is vitamin b12, which comes from the ground. (you can google more about this)
But since we wash our vegetables so cleanly nowadays, it's important to add a small amount into your diet.
You can get vitamin B12 from some fortified plant-based milk, vegemite, or just buy nutritional yeast from Phoon Huat/ Lazada.
It tastes like cheese and can be added into your soups, pasta, rice etc.
I always remember to add it into my food because I love the taste of it hahah!
I also googled "vitamins and nutrients that human body needs", and then searched for the plant-based sources of these vitamins and minerals cause I'm kiasu (scared lose) LOL!
I have a few highlights on my Instagram about the plant-based food we eat as well.
They may not always be the healthiest, but we have a lot of fun with our food now haha!
In fact, Sean's more interested in food than he's ever been previously so it's great!
You can check out my IGS highlights here:
We've only started our vegan diet since April 2019, so we still have a long way to go.
Hopefully our personal step by step transition is easy for you to follow, and can be helpful to those who're looking to try a vegan diet/ have problems maintaining a vegan diet in Singapore!
The vegan community in SG I've met so far are some of the most helpful people ever, and I really hope I can do my part to help others too.
Feel free to drop me a message on IG anytime if you have any questions/ need food recommendations too, I think I'm the most active there now.
Thank you for reading!