The following is an article by Katrina Paola Lugartos, a Filipino vegan living in Singapore. Katrina shares with us her life story as a vegan and how was it like surviving as a vegan foreigner in Singapore.
Six years ago, I graduated from the university, I was the perfect embodiment of optimism and rock and roll. But the thing is, I had no idea what I’ll do with myself, all I wanted was bring the message out about the pressing issues on animal cruelty and how we can help them. Wearing a wavy shag and heavy eyeliner, I was young, smart, sexy, and somewhat rebellious – as I’m not your typical conservative Filipina. At 25, I never felt better about myself.
But reaching this point wasn’t easy. In fact, I’d say it’s more of an adventure. During a childhood holiday to the countryside, I amused myself by playing with pigs, goats, chickens and geese in our backyard in La Union. I was called in for supper that evening, and to my dismay, the entire meal was made from my playmates! From then on, I told myself that I would never eat my friends again. So ladies and gentlemen, here’s my confession.
I’ve walked the streets of Manila dressed in lettuce leaves to draw attention to veganism; strutted my stuff outside the Manila Zoo wearing nothing but a black bikini, protested during the Hong Kong Fashion Week back in 2008, and a lot of other things that you can think of, everything for the sake of animals.
It doesn’t matter if I have to go naked, wear an animal costume in the midst of heat in Southeast Asia, or wear almost nothing even if it’s 7 degrees in Hong Kong, bottom-line is it’s nothing compared to the trauma, hardships, and suffering that animals go through everyday when they end up in your plate, in your wardrobe, or your beauty product.
Being vegan, especially if you’re in Manila, could raise a few eyebrows. People will think that you are squeamish. That or they’ll tell you flat-out that you are finicky. I can still remember eating tomato soup for prom night on my 3rd year in high school just because they don’t have any vegan option. I told them that I was vegetarian and guess what they served? Fish. Fish is not a vegetable. Ugh! Same thing goes to my salad. I ask them for a plain salad, just vegetables and fruits, and they still sprinkle parmesan cheese on it. That’s why I decided to dedicate my life in educating people about the benefits of going vegan. You’ll actually see me walking around rocking my animal rights tee.
For me, being vegan isn’t only about my plate, it’s a way of life. I left Manila months ago and moved here to Singapore. The first few weeks were a bit hard. I avoided going to Orchard Road because I can’t stand it when people stereotype me as a Filipino maid sometimes a prostitute – I was mortified! I am a thesis awardee for crying out loud! I also avoid that dreaded place called Lucky Plaza for the fear of being called one. But that didn’t stop me from exploring good vegan foods here in Singapore. Challenge accepted.
I started reading blogs. It was very helpful, aside from the fact that HappyCow is very useful, although it needs some update. The first blog that I came across is HungryAngMo.com (thanks, Luke) then this blog (you know I love you, Amanda!), so I go to the veg restaurants that they recommend almost everyday. And of course, who wouldn’t forget their first bite of the cracked pepper mayo burger from VeganBurg – it’s heaven! And since my office is near Chinatown, everyday is a mecca of vegan goodness. Slowly, it’s becoming easier and easier for me to adapt to a vastly foreign city. Needless to say, I love it here!
I don’t really push my opinions to other people. I just let myself be a good example of what a vegan is. Compassionate, friendly, caring – not to mention, good looking haha! It’s just one of the many benefits of a cruelty-free lifestyle and we can make this world a better place by sharing it with our friends.
So if you’re reading this and still chomping that piece of meat, let me tell you this. Vegans are not weak because we love and care for animals. You know what is weak? Giving in to the taste of meat just because you and you think that might makes right.
I kicked the meat habit and it rocked my world. It will rock yours too!