Friday, 16 March 2012

A meatless diet in Singapore - it wasn't that hard, is it?

Yippee! I have just completed almost 4 months of a meatless diet, 115 days to be exact. I made the decision for health, spiritual and personal reasons. I do it once a year or sometimes more frequently with shorter periods. Suffice to say, there is always the misconception that it is very inconvenient to be a vegetarian in Singapore where it is a food haven. 

To me it was not so much of a problem compared to when I was doing a non-carbo diet, which meant no noodles, no rice, no bread, no cookies etc.... only meat and veggies. Aaarrghhh! That diet was tougher than this meatless diet. I was very encouraged to go vegetarian this time. Even though I have completed this diet, I may just continue being meatless (or almost 90% vegetarian) as I found that taking too much meat cause me to feel too full and bloated all the time, and not to mention, involving the act of taking the lives of animals. 

Here is a guide to being meatless in Singapore, based on my 4 months of diet.

Usually for breakfast at home, I have bread, toast with peanut butter or eggs. Breakfast choices outside at the hawker centres are: (clockwise) Chee cheong fun, roti prata from Mufiz, black carrot cake from Kim Lee, and famous chwee kway from Bedok. Or other times, I go for kaya toast with half boiled eggs.

Vegetarian hawker food
Yes there are many stalls that are out of touch, for example, bak chor mee (minced pork noodles), prawn noodles, chicken/duck rice stalls, fish soup stalls etc... However there are vegetarian options to chicken rice and wanton noodles too (check out my earlier post on Onn Vegetarian).  At chai fun rice stalls, I choose dishes like mushroom, stir fry veggies, eggs, tofu etc. At yong tau hoo stalls, there are many items without the meat paste too, like lady fingers, mushroom, radish, kangkong, yam, fried beancurd stick, tofu, fried tau kwa etc.

Indian vegetarian food
I am lucky that I enjoy Indian food and they have lots of vegetarian options.  From clockwise, I love butter and garlic naan with 3 types of vegetarian gravy (from Ananda Bhavan), masala thosai (potatoes inside), vadai is a snack, and dishes like aloo mutter and mushroom gobi (from Mustafa) and so on.

Western vegetarian options
There are fast food options which does not cost a bomb. From clockwise, the delicious vegetarian Chicken Chop from Ci Hang (see my earlier post), Egg Mayo from Subway, Potato Croquette Burger from MosBurger, and Vegetarian Delight pizza from Sarpino's Pizza.

Vegetarian Tze Char
Sometimes I have the craving for steaming hot stir fry noodles from tze char stalls which are cooked on the spot. From clockwise, delicious bee hoon from Eight Treasures stall, customised vegetarian Thai fried kway teow, vegetarian bee hoon /noodles, and hor fun. 

Most savoury dessert options such as curry puff, chicken pies, otah are out. However there are many types of sweet snacks which vegetarians can enjoy, like cakes and ice cream. From clockwise, deep fried sweet potato balls from Rochor Hawker Centre, sweet tang yuan soup (homecooked), and a malay snack, Kueh Lopes. If I feel like having something savoury, the sweet corn or french fries from McDonalds is always welcome. The choices are endless.

Muslim food
Ayam Penyet or muslim dishes like sambal sotong and ayam merah are out. But you can still have sayur lodeh (curry veggies) and (from clockwise) Lontong, mee rebus, vegetarian nasi lemak topped with yummy sambal petai, or rice with muslim dishes like sambal kangkong, fried bean curd with long beans, fried egg or bergedel. 

Homecooked vegetarian food
The most flexible would be cooking vegetarian dishes at home based on your preference.  Here are some of the vegetarian dishes I cooked.  As I love all kinds of vegetables, it was easy peasy. For example, I cooked lo han zai, egg with gourd, nai pak with mushroom, and potatoes tofu. There are so many variations.

Homecooked porridge/soup
When I am sick of everything else, porridge usually does the trick. We have our usual veggies dishes, our special braised beancurd sticks, or dark sauce tau kwa, and fermented cai sim, olive veggies, nuts. I also had vegetarian dumplings soup to go with rice or noodles. 

Homecooked pasta
I like variety. When I get sick of chinese dishes, I would cook pasta in different methods. Clockwise, stir fry curly pasta chinese style, cream spaghetti with broccoli and mushroom, or tomato sauce pasta with potatoes and mushroom, or vegetarian lasagna. Yummy!

And when I am really in the mood, I make Tofu Burger (check out my previous post). This is my Tofu Burger, with lettuce, sauteed mushroom (and dribbled with a little of its sauce), alfafa sprouts and some mayonnaise. I topped the piping hot grilled potato with a little butter. The Tofu patty was so juicy and tasty that it could easily substitute the pork patty, in my opinion. 

So, being on a meatless diet is quite doable in Singapore, isn't it? Have a great weekend!

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