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Being Vegan in the Philippines

“Aren’t you supposed to be skinny?”

Sometimes it’s sad to know how much people in my country know about Veganism. The fact that the Philippines is one of the most active countries when it comes to social media, veganism never passed by their feed. Must be the algorithm!

Filipinos tend to interchange the word Vegan and Vegetarian most of the time but we all know it is different. If you are fortunate and studied a food related course such as Food Tech or Hospitality Management, you might have stumbled upon these words. People have many expectations about being a Filipino and a Vegan at the same time.

First, Vegans are supposed to be skinny. Knowing that vegans don’t eat meat, people think that they won't gain weight at all. They think that you are weak and get sick because you don’t eat that much. They also assume that you are very healthy and will probably live for a hundred years (which could be a possibility).

Second, they expect you to hug a tree. I mean, it would be nice to hug a tree and science has proven it to be healthy but they assumed you would just stop walking and hug a random tree. They once saw on the news that Vegans hugged a tree and they expect every one will do the same.

Another thing is that they think we only eat salads. Seriously, just salads. They didn’t realize that there's a ton of Filipino dishes that are actually Vegan. It's just someone decided along the way to add pork, chicken or fish in those dishes for some reason. With the amount of Vegan friendly cafes popping up and products in the market labeled as Vegan we can no longer settle for only salad.

One important thought is that people assume that being Vegan is expensive. Yes, it is if you buy from supermarkets and highly processed vegan foods. But if you buy from the farmers market, you can save a lot. Planning your food for the week could also spare you some cash.

Lastly, they assume that you miss eating meat. If they only knew how they end up having pork, beef and chicken on their plate, I don’t think they would even think of eating meat ever again. But it's their denial that stops them from making changes.

Deciding to go Vegan in a country surrounded by meat-loving people is challenging. Showing them the benefits of eating plant-based, physically and mentally, is my way of telling them that they could make some minor changes in their diet to feel better about themselves.



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