Over the last weekend (21 and 22 November), EatRoamLive held the second iteration of the Singapore Vegan Festival (SVF). The two-day event saw the Singapore vegan community coming together to shop amazing deals on vegan products and services, attend workshops and talks, learn from one another, and share their journeys and experiences.
As someone who has always been curious about the vegan lifestyle, I went into the festival with an open mind to learn more about this community here in Singapore and beyond. Admittedly, there were some assumptions I held about veganism prior to this which had held me back from adopting a vegan lifestyle; some of these were that veganism is a difficult diet to maintain, that I would be heavily restricting my food options, and that I’ll have to take supplements to ensure my nutritional needs are met.
However, all these myths and misconceptions were quickly debunked during the festival! Do read on to learn more about what was shared during the festival, and how it has completely changed my perspective on a vegan lifestyle.
Vegan food is boring
It didn’t take me long to realise that vegan food is anything but just salads and greens.
SVF brought together local shops and restaurants offering amazing vegan delicacies throughout the two-day festival. The SVF marketplace saw a wide array of vegan food products including energy balls, baked goods, vegan cheese, plant-based milk, and more!
As part of SVF, EatRoamLive also partnered with restaurants islandwide to bring vegan-friendly menus for an entire week (ending 29 November). These menus covered multiple cuisines including Italian, Chinese, Indian, and more, truly showcasing the versatility that is available in vegan eating.
During the panel discussions, panelists and speakers also introduced the amazing food that they enjoy while vegan. From vegan iterations of local delights like Nasi Lemak and Rendang, to wholesome meals like Quinoa bowls, the sky seems to be the limit as to what a vegan diet can look like.
Vegan lifestyle blogger Nicole (@_findingnicole) shared that in recent years, vegan options here in Singapore have exploded. Today, you can easily find vegan ingredients and food like plant-based ice cream and meat substitutes in supermarkets islandwide.
If you’re still not convinced, just take a look at Nicole’s Instagram for inspiration! Her fellow panelists (Joy @morethanveggies and Hero @whynotplant) are also vegan food bloggers. I’m not sure about you, but one look at their Instagram pages was enough to make me drool!
In fact, it’s possible that being on a vegan diet means more versatility in food rather than less since eliminating meat from your diet forces you to think out of the box and be more creative with meals!
A vegan diet doesn’t allow for enough proteins and nutrients
It’s common knowledge that in a normal diet, we get most of our proteins from meat. But what about on a vegan diet?
There are some who believe that a vegan diet is “not natural” or unsustainable as it means that an individual will have to take supplements to meet their nutritional needs. However, this couldn’t be more untrue!
In the SVF panel, The Eternal Debate: Can we Get Enough Protein on a Vegan Diet? Join World Class Athletes as they shatter myths and records!, we got to sit down with professional athletes leading a vegan lifestyle to hear their side of the story.
The panel consisted of mountaineer Kuntal Joisher, professional bodybuilder Pamela Christie, and stuntman and actor Jack Jagodka. If their credentials alone aren’t enough to convince you that a vegan diet can be healthy and sufficient for your body’s needs, their physique sure will.
Jack, in particular, highlighted that he did full health check-ups at regular intervals during his transition to a vegan diet to ensure that his body was still getting the nutrition it needed. He had moved from a typical meat-eating diet to a pescatarian one (just plant-based foods and seafood) before going vegetarian, and finally, vegan. After the long period of transition, he found that his body was in fact at its healthiest on a vegan diet; his blood pressure which had always been on the high side had fallen to normal range, and he reported feeling much more energetic overall.
Similar sentiments were shared by professional bodybuilder Pamela and food blogger, Nicole (in a different talk), whose physical and mental well-being all benefited from a transition into a vegan diet.
The three athletes shared openly about how they ensure their body functions at peak performance for their demanding careers. Repeatedly, they emphasised the need of eating everything in moderation, suggesting that you “put rainbow colours on your plate” to ensure that you’re getting a good array of micronutrients in your daily meals.
Jack swears by Dr Gregor’s Daily Dozen to get a healthy diet consisting of all the macronutrients and micronutrients your body needs, and often gets his proteins from a variety of beans. Meanwhile, Kuntal and Pamela also love exploring different ingredients to meet their protein needs including oats, seeds, nut butters, and more!
At the end of the day, they suggest that getting a balanced diet on a vegan diet isn’t so different from that of a meat-inclusive one. All it requires is a good mix of foods in moderation.
Being vegan is troublesome
This is definitely a belief I held when I went into the festival. After all, being vegan means a limited amount of eateries to choose from when eating out, and in many places that do offer vegan options, the menu options are extremely limited.
While these concerns weren’t fully dispelled after the festival, I did feel like they were somewhat assuaged. Specifically, Jack suggested that more foods are vegan than we realise. For instance, while many mains on a menu might not be vegan, sides often are (such as french fries)!
He suggested that when eating out, diners can ask restaurants if they are willing to mix up certain elements of their existing dishes to create a vegan dish. Otherwise, he suggests eating before meeting up with friends if that is not an option.
While these options can indeed be inconvenient, it’s only going to get better from here. With increasing interest in veganism, more vegan-friendly restaurants are popping up islandwide, and there are many restaurants that are introducing vegan-friendly items into their menus as well!
For home chefs, vegan ingredients such as meat substitutes and vegan dairy products are also becoming increasingly accessible. With more conversations about veganism sparking, it seems that this positive trend is set to continue, making veganism more accessible and convenient for all.
Being vegan is expensive
Some might argue that eating a vegan diet is expensive. This might be true if you’re primarily eating meat substitutes or eating out in vegan cafes and restaurants (since cheap vegan food options don’t seem to be widely available as of yet). Food blogger, Joy, shared this concern as a vegan, where she found that vegan food outside is either expensive (specialty cafes or restaurants) or unhealthy (economical bee hoon or rice at hawker centres).
As a result, Joy turned to cooking her own food and even published a cookbook recently on traditional Asian and Asian-fusion recipes made vegan!
By cooking at home, the cost of eating vegan is largely mitigated since vegetables are by and large cheaper than meat products. The bulk of a vegan’s diet is also often made up of beans, legumes, rice, pasta, and vegetables — all of which are some of the cheapest ingredients available.
Going vegan is difficult
There’s no doubt that leading a vegan lifestyle will be a transition, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.
When Jack decided to become vegan, he did so out of curiosity and a passion for avoiding animal cruelty. He spent nearly two years transiting into a vegan diet, spending six months eating a pescatarian diet (consuming only plant-based foods and seafood), then vegetarian, and finally, full vegan. Similarly, lifestyle influencer Nicole made the slow transition in her mission to return to a healthier physical and mental state after suffering from an eating disorder.
Ultimately, all the speakers who went vegan did so because of their conviction to ethical and sustainable living, and they remained vegan because it benefited them physically, mentally, and psychologically.
To them, it wasn’t a challenge as the benefits outweigh the cons. After all, if you’re eating food that makes you feel good, then surely the overall process is one that’s enjoyable rather than dreary.
Veganism is only about food
The seminar has also made me realise that veganism is not just about the food that we consume but an entire lifestyle.
Some of the speakers like Kuntal and Joy were raised vegetarian, but later transited into a vegan lifestyle after realising the implications of what they were wearing and using as well. While eliminating meat is a large step in the right direction, the beauty and fashion industry is still fraught with many ethical concerns when it comes to animal cruelty.
Most, if not all, the speakers who spoke at SVF revealed that the more research they did, the more they realized that animal products can be found in everything — leather belts, make-up, skincare, down coats, and so on. The knowledge they gleaned from research eventually convinced them to switch into a full vegan lifestyle as they wished to do their part in promoting ethical and sustainable living.
By the end of the two-day festival, I was inspired to make an adjustment to my own lifestyle habits as well. While I might not go full-on vegan from the onset, I’ll most definitely be taking steps to move to a more plant-based diet and be more conscious about what I am wearing and using in my daily life.
If you’re interested to learn more about leading a vegan lifestyle, you can check out EatRoamLive’s website for resources and also shop their marketplace for vegan products to get you started.