By Evan Tan, Contributor
So you’ve decided to go vegetarian. The calendar already marked,
you’ve made the choice as a New Year’s resolution. The reasons
might be any of these: health, the environment or animal rights.
Finally, notwithstanding raised brows and
disbelief, you’re resolute.
Admittedly, vegetarianism is a daunting
lifestyle for lifelong omnivores. Add to that, celebrations in the
country are incomplete without a meat dish or two. Case in point:
Fiestas are rarely without lechon, roasted to hypertension-inducing
perfection. Filipinos try to include meat in the dinner table as
much as possible. (No wonder, considering that meat consumption is
perceived as a socio-economic status symbol.)
Decisions rarely succeed without proper
planning. The same is true with vegetarianism. If you plan to
succeed in this lifetime commitment, then you must understand what
you are diving into.
Firstly, identify what kind of vegetarian
lifestyle you aim to pursue. There are four types: Ovo-vegetarianism
excludes meat and dairy but incorporates eggs in the diet;
lacto-vegetarianism skips everything animal-derived except dairy
products; ovo-lacto-vegetarianism allows consumption of both eggs
and dairy; and vegetarianism, which means no meat, dairy and eggs.
(Veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism,
excluding animals from diet and any other human use. Also,
pescetarianism and pollotarianism are both frowned upon as
pseudo-vegetarianism since these diets include animals.)
Expect that there will be questions from family,
friends and people around you. Scepticism and curiosity are natural
reactions. Anticipate ridicule as well. Learn to take it all in
stride. Back yourself up with knowledge. People commonly think being
vegetarian makes one weak and lame. Refute their misguided ideas.
(Trivia: Olympic track-and-field medallist Carl Lewis is vegan—one
among the many vegetarian athletes who excel in their respective
Hypoproteinemia often worries the beginner
vegetarian. It is actually a mistaken belief that vegetarianism
means a lack of protein in one’s diet. There are numerous sources
of protein from plants; some (such as soy) even possess all of the
essential amino acids. But then, proper combinations of other
protein sources (beans, legumes and grains to name a few) can give
vegetarians adequate protein nutrition. Vitamin B12 meanwhile can be
derived from vitamin supplements. Just as with any diet, balance is
necessary for optimum health.
Vegetarian haunts and hunts
Manila is becoming a haven for vegetarians.
Through the presence of an international animal rights organization
here in the country, an increasing number of people are becoming
aware of vegetarianism. Thus, more businesses are realizing the
potential of catering to this growing market.
Vegetarianism need not mean suffering and
starvation. Need a quick bite? Don’t go looking far—a trip to
the neighbourhood convenience store will do. Snacks (such as potato
chips, green peas, peanuts) are almost always vegetarian-friendly.
(Skip the chicharon and remember to check ingredients.) Soy milk
(taho) is easily available, just in case you need your protein to
go. (Tip: Some coffee shops like Starbucks have soy lattes.)
If you’re in a mall, restaurants typically
offer a vegetarian meal or two. Asian-themed restaurants often serve
soy-based meals so be on the lookout. Pizza houses have vegetarian
options as well. (For vegans, ask for cheese-less pizza.) There are
vegetarian specialty dining places in and out of the metro; an
online list is available at www.happycow.net. Not on the list though
is Subway, which has delicious vegetarian sandwich on the menu; and
Good Burgers, with branches in Virra Mall and across Tiendesitas,
which makes the yummiest veggie burgers in town (skip the
Vegetarian meat can be bought at the grocery in
Market! Market! in Taguig and Varona’s along Leveriza Street in
Pasay. Vegetarian products are likewise available in Healthy
More ready than ever? Well then, welcome to the