I’ve experienced quite a lot of repulsion and backlashes from the people around me when I decided to stick to a plant-based diet. After one year of sticking to a vegetarian-only meal, I decided not to be too strict with my diet and incorporate some meat into my diet. But I had just lost my appetite for meat. I do eat some fish and seafood occasionally but on most days, I just enjoy eating vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and rice.
As a vegetarian living in Singapore, I’ve gone through several struggles and made sacrifices to live for the better and here’s what I go through from day to day.
1. Family and Friends Who Are Meat-eaters
Watching you graze over salads and fruits made them think you are on some kind of a crazy weight lost diet. “Are you on a diet? I could never eat vegetables alone. How did you do that?”
” How do you get your source of protein?”
” A diet without meat is not a balanced diet and it is unhealthy!”
” Oh c’mon, have a slice of chicken wing! Look, it’s freaking delicious. Aren’t you eating it?”
It is not any better when you have friends who eat meat only. I had a friend who doesn’t eat a single vegetable – just meat and fruits.
My aunt send me a text to warn me the dangers of going vegetarian.
They will go all ways to tempt you to consume meat like them but in my mind, I only thought of the cows and other animals which were slaughtered in the farms. Worse still, I could imagine how difficult it would be for my digestive system to digest all the tough meat fibre.
2. Social Gatherings Over Meals
” Have some meat! We bought it specially for you.”
Getting over this is the toughest because when you are dining out with friends, they wouldn’t order vegetarian food unless they are okay eating vegetarian food with you too. I was lucky that I have a group of supportive friends who wouldn’t mind eating salads and visiting vegetarian-friendly cafes with me. At work, they would order a vegetarian pizza just so that I had something to eat.
Sometimes, you will also feel like the odd one out.
Thankfully, more cafes and restaurants in Singapore are serving vegetarian and vegan-friendly meals. They even highlighted the vegetarian options on their menus. Thumbs up for that! Read my blog for food reviews of vegetarian-friendly places. My usual go-to eateries are The Soup Spoon, Vegan Burg, Cedele and any salad bars in Singapore.
3. Afraid of Troubling Others
When your colleagues knew you are vegetarian, they go, ‘ Oh, let’s find a place that serves vegetarian food.’ I go, ‘ No, it is okay. Any place would do. I will just order their salads as a side.’ I don’t like troubling others and that’s me. Sometimes going vegetarian means you have to make an intentional choice to dine at places which serve vegetarian meals. But now, I am less troubled by this inconvenience I brought to others because in a way, I am encouraging them to eat healthy too!
4. Limited food options
Food options can be limited especially at home. Salads and oats are the easiest meal to make but having to eat them almost every other day. I could have humus with pita bread but that would means I need to invest in a food processor. I would need time too. On most days, I would stick to white rice and 2 types of cooked vegetables for lunch at work. For breakfast, I stick to oats and fruits. For dinner, I would have salads or rice.
5. Societal Pressure
Yes, meat eaters are calling us vegetables killers because we eat vegetables only. They say that we are vitamin B6-deficient. Non-vegetarian advocates stepped out to argue how extreme we can be.
These are just excuses though. Even going 50% vegetarian has immense health benefits. My take is to go 80% vegetarian, eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce your meat intake. Hopefully, this will make the world a greener place, build a healthier you and put a stop to animal cruelty.