The following is an account by Yong Zen Tan, who is currently pursuing an engineering degree in NTU. A self-confessed “omnivore who is a 70-80% meat-eater”, Yong Zen shares with us his experience hanging out with a vegan friend (myself). SGVegan would like to thank him for with us sharing his sincere thoughts.
Before meeting Amanda, I totally had no idea what vegan was, I always thought vegetarians are missing out all the good food out there and thought vegetarians are always weak and lethargic because they are not getting enough nutrients. I shall begin my story on how Amanda changed my diet.
Being more of a carnivore than an omnivore, I cringed at the thought of a fully vegan meal the way Amanda had described; no eggs, no milk, all veggie and food derived from plants.
Then I told her how I thought cauliflower was broccoli accidently knocked into a pail of bleach and how I wonder who was the one who thought those moss like flowers are edible in the first place.
Usually, that’s when your vegan friend will roll his/her eyes and say “ok, I will not preach anything about being a vegan to you anymore.” But Amanda was persistent; bombarding me with the millions of benefits that comes with being a vegan, and believe me the list is longer than the benefits of a credit card and she makes a great insurance agent.
Then comes my first vegan western food, Veganburg. I admit that when she first told me about it, I had the thought of subway’s veggie delight which doesn’t really make me delighted. However, I always like trying new stuff, so I went along. Well, I’ve got to say my first vegan meal tasted fantastic.
There was this once I went to Loving Hut in Suntec for yet another shot at a vegan meal, I had the herbal soup rice set and when it came it looked like what my mom cooked with something that looks vaguely like a piece of meat with a small piece of bone.
Naturally I went for the “meat” first and Amanda said “That’s the mutton.” I shot her the stunned look before she replied “Fake mutton!” Well, she probably didn’t know that I am not stunned because of what she said, but because the “mutton” had a piece of edible bone and it tasted like mushroom meatballs but yet it’s purely vegan.
It was the first time I tasted vegan herbal soup and finish the unidentified stuffs in the bowl because Amanda said it’s good for me. Usually, the herbal soup I drink has pork ribs or some black chicken and I don’t really dare to slurp in the unidentified sediments.
I must say the bowl of soup was rejuvenating; it chased away a cold virus that was on its way, which I am seriously thankful.
After the fulfilling late lunch, we headed to Starbucks for a tea break. And since Amanda was having her soy green latte, and I can change the milk in my coffee to soy for free (Ok, I am a cheapo), I decided to try out the soy alternative of iced caffe mocha. There’s really not much of a difference to be honest and it tastes less sweet which is pretty good. I had a healthy vegan afternoon that day.
Whenever I went out with Amanda, she will tell me something new about being a vegan (I forgot to mention, she’s a good teacher too). With the recent setting up of her blog, I learnt even more about having a vegan diet.
Since I knew the fact that cattle rearing produces more greenhouse gases than any other activities, I cut down on going for a buffet; making a pact to eat only what I need because the amount of food wasted in a buffet does not only end up in the rubbish bin, it ends up in the sewers too. I am proud to say I have probably only eaten 1 buffet last year.
But I just couldn’t give up meat because it’s been part of my diet since I was probably 2 or 3 years old and it tastes good. Little did I know for every kilogram of feed a cow eats and every 11000 litres of water used, we merely get back a measly beef patty in our hamburger. For that I am ashamed.
Because I have an engineering diploma and I am pursuing an engineering degree and in engineering where efficiency and effectiveness are always measured and compared, I failed to see that the process that really needs to be improved or reduced lies in our daily diet. And the way to improve it, is so easy and it doesn’t even need any expensive equipments; just change your diet.
Of course asking any omnivore or carnivore to become a vegan is just torturous but if everyone could be a vegan for just one day a week, imagine how much land used to grow the cattle feed could be freed up to grow crops that could feed millions and how much less greenhouses gases we will produce.
Of course some skeptical people will start saying the market will still be there, even if you don’t eat, they will still rear, so what’s the difference? No offence, but if you are one of them, and you are reading this post, just take a minute to read about how demand and supply really works.
There will be a lag time in which the market starts to react to the demand changes and that will only happen if we are persistent in having a vegan day every week. Small fluctuations will be ignored and dislocations will put companies out of business. Like every difficult problems, be it climate crisis, global warming, energy crisis, etc, the solutions could be easy but the problem lies with who wants to make the change, who takes it seriously and of course who has the power to catalyze and enforce the change.
One thing for sure, such changes can never be carried out by one man alone, it is a collective effort made by everyone of us living in this world, on earth. I shall quote Mahatma Ghandi,
“Be the change you want to see in this world.”
Earth is our home, and if we want it to stay this way for generations to come, we have to make the changes necessary, starting from changes that could be easily made; reduce, reuse and recycle, switch off appliances that not in use, proper disposal of e-waste, using energy efficient products, switching to hybrids and the easiest of all, change your diet.
Eating what I need and treating meat as a delicacy to be enjoyed in small portion is the best I can do right now, but I will reduce more in time to come. Maybe then I will have vegan Monday and vegan Friday? I hope everyone would appreciate Amanda’s efforts to keep this blog going just as much as I do, because of her we are able to learn more about being a vegan. And also because of her and many other vegans like her, the damage done by cattle rearing is reduced (now she’s like a heroine <-not the drug).