The following was first published in Vegan in Singapore. SEAYSS would like to thank Amanda for sharing this post with us, and hopefully she’ll be back recommending good vegan food in Singapore and SEA as she comes across them!
Being a young vegan in Singapore, I am often mistaken as a junior college/poly student. People tell me I look like I am 17-18 years old. Being female, I love it when my looks do not match my real age.
Of course, this means that I am sometimes taken lightly by people who believe they are more experienced when they are in fact younger than I am. It can get a bit frustrating sometimes. But we can’t have our vegan cake and eat it too, right?
For people who are curious about my age: I am 23 years old, and will be turning 24 this August.
I shared my story on how I became vegan on 31 Jan 2012. In it, I mentioned how I was influenced by my Aussie friend Liam to turn vegan. He showed me how easy it is to prepare vegan food at home.
Of course, eating vegan food is easy. But making it, or even having easily accessible vegan food here in Singapore is a challenge.
When I first arrived back in Singapore, it was the start of a new semester back in university. I could get food from the school canteen as there were vegetarian stalls.
However, after eating healthily in Australia for 11 days, my body did not enjoy the oily food that was being served by the vegetarian stalls. Now, this is where the misconception of vegetarian food in Singapore arises – food must be oily to be tasty.
Why do I say this? Singapore is a food (meat) paradise. Almost all of our well known dishes are high in sodium content, high in (saturated) fat and contains bad cholesterol. Such that our government has to get hawkers to cook healthier versions of their signature dishes.
On the 6th day, I could not take it any longer. I decided to remake the vegan homemade tofu salad that I enjoyed in Australia:
But making this salad took up a lot of my time, because I had to search for organic broccoli, organic sweet potatoes and prepare them. Or maybe because it is more convenient to consume a meal outside instead of having to prepare food,carry it out, consume it, and bring the container back home to wash.
Anyway, I brought a Tupperware to bring the homemade vegan tofu salad I made to uni the next day so that I could eat it during lunchtime.
I had my lunch by myself, without my usual group of friends as I did not want to explain too much about bringing food from home. Why did I do that?
When I was in primary school, I remember my mum bringing food for me and my younger brother. All I could remember was disliking the fact that my mum came to my school everyday.
Why so? On hindsight, I did not recognize the fact that I was so lucky to have a mother who cares about my diet. At the age of 10-11 years old, I gained an infamous reputation in my school, that my mother always brought food for me.
It was not nice. At that age, most of us want to “fit” in with our peers, and enjoy “junk” food, such as potato chips. We also wanted to get up to mischief. If your mother visited you in school everyday during break, and happened to run into your (form) teacher(s), all your movements would be reported to your mother, right?
I guess whatever experiences we have when young leaves an imprint on our minds. So that was the reason why I ate my lunch alone that day.
Even so, being a youth, I was also highly conformed to peer pressure. I wanted to “fit” in with my friends. Many, if not all of my friends, were not vegetarians. Whenever we tried to organize a group dinner, they would jokingly push the blame to me, that because of my vegetarian diet, they could not eat at a lot of places. Thus, when I turned vegan, I did not widely publicize this change as I did not want to draw more unwanted attention to myself. I tried to attend gatherings as much as possible – I just didn’t order any food there.
So how did I manage to withstand all these “negative” influences and maintain my vegan diet?
This is because I stumbled across a video where newly hatched male chicks were sorted on a factory line belt and flung into a blender alive, where their meat fed back to the mother hens.
This is the driving force behind my maintenance of a vegan diet. I would highly recommend you to watch this:
After watching such a video, I can no longer live in ignorance eating any form of meat/dairy products that are easily available. I would rather go hungry than to even contribute to the suffering of these animals.
Of course, I have to be realistic – if I specially ordered my food but its mistakenly served to me with some milk/egg in it, I may eat it. Because I do not want to waste food. But if there is meat inside, I would definitely send the dish back to be re-prepared.
Being in Singapore, I have to learn to be flexible – is it better to eat the meal or return it back to the kitchen where the food will be dumped? It’s a dilemma.
My friends would often tease me – so what if I don’t eat meat? There are so many other people who eat meat. Its not like me not eating meat makes a huge difference.
Personally, I partially agree with what they say. However, I always tell my friends that no matter what my choice is, at least my conscience is clear. Even if I am just a single person who is maintaining a vegan diet, I believe that somehow, at least an animal somewhere did not die to be on my plate. At least there is one less demand for meat. So hopefully, the supply of meat will also be affected.
I may not be an influential person like Bill Clinton, but at the very least I can make a small contribution.
So whatever negative criticisms I face from those friends of mine, I try not to let it affect me and instead, focus of the positive aspect that I am helping and doing my small part for the animals, society and Mother Earth…
And because of that, I am thankful for the friends who treasure our friendship and choose to stand by me, respecting me for my choice(s).