Veganism may have not been a new adopted lifestyle throughout the world, but the term is still new and strange to our aunties, uncles and grandparents whenever I visit my kampung over the Hari Raya break. Malaysians are often known for their wide variety of dishes that involve meat. Since the rise of social media usage among the youths, the vegan diet is being adopted by many - and the numbers are growing! Some have begun their green journey for health and the animals, while others did it for the environment. Whatever the reason is, the idea of living life with more purpose and meaningful values is definitely attracting our fellow Malaysians.
But there are still many others who refuse to take up the lifestyle - and for many reasons for that matter. Below I shall debunk some of the fears and opinions vegan-no sayers have:
MYTH: Malays don’t have vegan or vegetarian diets
Although majority of Malaysian vegans are Chinese and Indians due to the practice of Buddhism and Hinduism, Malays have also picked up the diet, some of which but are not limited to: Diyana Rahim (@diyanarahim), Akeen (@inikeeno), Myza Nordin (from Furry Friends Farm Malaysia), Syafiqah Shujairi (@syfqhshujairi) and many more! Malay dishes turned vegan are popping up on social media such as tofu rendang and nasi lemak with mushroom sambal and dried soybean crisps for ikan bilis replacement. Furthermore, the vegan diet does not conflict with the Muslim lifestyle because Islam promotes peace and healthy well-being for all – and veganism fits it well!
MYTH: You need to have a lot of $$$$ to be vegan
Unless you are planning to go to Village Grocer and buy imported ice cream brands and 100% organic goods from overseas, being vegan in Malaysia can be a great way to save up your money! Just drop by the gerai-gerai stalls by your workplace/school and you can easily buy a meal for RM4-5: rice, protein choice (tempeh/tofu), and two vegetables. Thankfully in Malaysia, soybean is our staple diet (tempeh, tofu, and soy bean drinks and desserts) - making vegan alternatives super convenient and affordable.
MYTH: The vegan diet makes you weak
How do you explain the strength of Germany’s strongest man, Patrik Baboumian and Australia’s olympic runner, Morgan Mitchell? We also have our own Malaysian athletes and fitspos who are proving the power of the ‘vegains’ from their diet. Sources of protein can be just as abundant and accessible in the vegan diet. For example, 100g of tofu can already provide you 8-10 g of protein! Plus, there are a plethora of vegan protein supplements that gym-junkies can take these days.
MYTH: I need my calcium from susu!
Yes - milk does provide calcium nutrients. But guess what else? Vegetables! From dark leafy greens to legumes and sweet potatoes - the options are endless. Pop some lentils into your dhal curry for your next breakfast with your chapati bread and you’re good to go!
MYTH: Cows need to be milked - so we need to use the milk somehow!
Cows actually need calfs to produce milk. Thus, cows are impregnated forcefully annually so that they will produce a steady supply of milk for the market. Plus, many large dairy farms use growth hormones and antibiotics in the rearing process. This will artificially increase the cow’s milk production. So commercial milk is not always “clean and healthy”.
Ta-da! Those are some myths that you can share to your friends and family members if they ever raise up the same concern. If you have more questions and myths you want to debunk, you can directly ask the experts on 4th or 5th November 2017 at World Vegan Day Malaysia 2017! Find out more details of the event on their Facebook page.