I am privileged to have been recently invited by the sweet folks over at Mr & Mrs Vegan to be their first guest contributor. For the uninitiated, Roland & Priscilla started the lifestyle blog in January 2013 to share their recipes, café/restaurant hunting, shopping, travels, their thoughts and other information about all things vegan. I was pretty excited when I realised there’s a new vegan blog in the Singaporean blogosphere – it’s a tangible manifestation of the awakening of our collective consciousness to the horrors of animal exploitation.
You can read the original post here.
Before we started this blog as a couple who are vegan newbies, we often sourced out informative vegetarian/vegan singapore bloggers such as Hungry Ang Mo or overseas cooking blogs such as Vegalicious and so many others found below on the links we follow. One particular blog struck us most as a few months back we bumped into an old friend and her friends who were heading to 7 sensations vegetarian restaurant at Millennia Walk the same time as we did. They were thinking of going vegan too and told us about this young lady who is a vegan and has a lovely blog! That every night, we googled VeganAsh and it’s the no.1 vegan blog to visit in Singapore.
The vegan community seems rather small in Singapore and it is a difficult task to find like minded people. Hence, we decided to start a contributor segment to help connect each other and share our thoughts. For this first contributor post, we have none other than Ashley herself who was so willing and generous to be a part of our humble blog when we asked her some questions a few weeks back.
1- A little intro about yourself and your blog. What made you decide to create your blog? Was it motivation from friends or family?
Hey there, I’m Ashley, otherwise known as VeganAsh in the blogosphere. I’m 24 this year and I’m currently training to be a lawyer.
I’ve always been a foodie when I was a no-veg-ever carnivore (for most of my life) and then a vegetarian (for 9 months), so when I made the switch to veganism (in July 2011) I knew that I had to actively seek out new food experiences regularly to avoid getting trapped in eating the same old stuff all the time and then feeling deprived and eventually losing my motivation to stay vegan. So I was always going to new cafes and restaurants at least a few times a week. Transitioning to veganism was a really exciting time for me because I realised there is so much good vegan food in Singapore and I also realised I knew so little about food until then – when you take the dominating flavours of meat and dairy out of the equation, a good chef’s creativity really shines through. To quote Evolving Wellness, “[t]here are so many fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, fungi, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, not to mention an almost infinite amount of combinations or things that one can do with them!”
Consequently, you can imagine my frustration when people kept feeling sorry for me whenever they realised I’ve become vegan. The most common question I’ve ever had about my ethical choice (aside from “why did you become vegan?”) is definitely “What do you eat? What can you eat?” So I decided to start the blog to dissolve the dichotomy between reality and public perception about vegan food both generally and in Singapore. I figured, it would be nice if stuffing myself with good food is more than just that – it could contribute to promoting awareness of veganism and spreading the love of good food in Singapore.
Another important motivation was to help people who want to incorporate more vegan food into their diet or who are seriously considering transitioning to a vegan lifestyle to know where they can go to find good food in Singapore. I think that is very important for most people – we might understand all the compelling reasons to go vegan but it is an uphill struggle if we hate what we are eating. Conversely, if we love what we eat, the transition will be much smoother.
2- How has your vegan journey been so far? What are the downs and ups?
Honestly? There are no “downs”. Veganism is the easiest and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
As for the “ups”. Just to name a couple – 1) A clearer conscience resulting from an alignment of my ethics (i.e. non-violence) with my lifestyle. 2) Connecting to all the wonderful people who are fighting for more compassion in the world, such as in the Vegetarian Society (Singapore). 3) A much higher level of energy (I need less sleep than before, and I never feel sluggish after lunch, etc.). 4) All the impossibly beneficial health benefits resulting from a well-planned plant-based diet. 5) Researching about veganism has greatly increased my knowledge about the animal rights movement, health and nutrition, the environment, food economics, etc.
3- Are there any books or videos or links that you could recommend to our readers?
Here’s a short 2-minute clip that animal lovers in particular can relate to: “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”
I would also recommend this video about the truth behind meat production: From Farm to Fridge
I would recommend this multi-award winning documentary as a must-watch for anyone – it is truly life-transforming: Earthlings
And if anyone is concerned about their health and/or the health of their loved ones, I would recommend this essential documentary featuring acclaimed nutritionists: Forks Over Knives
I loved Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals – it is an extremely well-researched investigative report, but even more so a personal memoir about his transition from carnivore to vegetarianism with forays into ethical philosophy.
As for recipe books, I would recommend the Heart Smart Oil-Free Cookbook recently published by the Vegetarian Society (Singapore) in conjunction with the Singapore Heart Foundation, as reviewed here. It features over 40 recipes sourced from contributors from different fields, including global nutrition experts and famous vegetarian restaurants in Singapore. It is based on the ground-breaking 20-years nutritional research of Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, which illustrates that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease but can also reverse its effects.
A surprisingly easy yet impressive Mixed Mushroom Barley Risotto, based on a recipe from the Heart Smart Oil-Free Cookbook
Also, the best-selling Post Punk Kitchen’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is an absolute must-have for fellow bakers!
My friends loved PPK’s Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles – rich chocolate with a hint of a spicy cayenne kick and a beautiful crackled top
I would recommend the well-loved NutritionFacts.org by Dr. Michael Greger for the latest in health and nutrition related research delivered in short and easy-to-understand videos.
4- What is your favourite vegetarian spot in Singapore? It does not need to be vegan.
In my opinion, the best vegetarian restaurant in Singapore is Whole Earth. I’ve brought many carnivorous friends there, and all of them (with the exception of a friend who insists he feels like gagging whenever he consumes plant-based food…) love it. Whole Earth also has the most realistic mock meat I’ve tried so far, and the best part is it’s made with shitake mushroom instead of the typical processed soy-based mock meats – don’t forget to order the Penang Rendang when you’re there. Also, all the food is vegan except for the occasional use of honey, e.g. in their Chinese New Year menu.
Whole Earth’s rich and meaty Penang Rendang
The menu at Ci Yan changes daily but always includes the wholesome Brown Rice Set (side dishes change regularly)
5- Your daily or any particular comfort food/snack you enjoy the most?
Something I snack on without fail every day are raw nuts (mostly sweet and crunchy raw almonds that have been soaked in water for 10-12 hours). I also always have some fruit with me at work.
As for comfort food, there are too many to list…! Usually if I’m feeling down, I’ll be craving carbs (there are few things more pleasurable in life than a perfectly al dente bowl of pasta) and hearty, satisfying food (e.g. vegan bean chili and curries). I also love pizzas! Unfortunately I’ve yet to find the perfect vegan lasagna and vegan mac & cheese in Singapore. Savoury foods aside, I love dark chocolate, and I also like to turn to Brownice (as reviewed here) when I have those I-just-want-to-drown-myself-in-ice-cream moments:
Creamy brown rice ice cream with stellar toppings at Brownice
6- Are there any new eatery places you want to review soon?
There are too many to name! Off the top of my head – and these places are not necessarily new in Singapore, I just haven’t had the chance to visit yet – I’m intending to try the vegetarian menu at Pollen and various Chinese restaurants like My Humble House and Lao Beijing. I’ve also been craving some Mediterranean food so I would probably pop down to Pita Pan soon for a quick fix, as well as Café Le Caire. I would also like to visit Vegetarian Era, since it has been highly recommended by Luke over at Hungry Ang Mo as one of his favourite vegan eateries in Singapore. Fellow lovers of good food are certainly welcome to join me!