VE­GAN... MEAT?

HERE’S THE skinny on go­ing MEAT-FREE

FHM (Philippines) - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: TOTO LABRADOR WORDS: FELICE TUSI

A brave new world of healthy eat­ing

What if we told you there is no meat at all in this Bar­be­cue Banh Mi?

There isn’t. The “pulled pork” is re­ally un­ripe jack­fruit. “We are fa­mil­iar with langka, but mostly as ripe fruit or as gi­nataan when served as viand. When slow cooked, un­ripe jack­fruit takes on the tex­ture of pulled pork, so we are us­ing it as that in this recipe and cook­ing it in home­made bar­be­cue sauce,” de­scribes Mabi David, who runs the mo­bile ve­gan kitchen, Me and My Veg Mouth. She sug­gests us­ing jack­fruit as well as a meat al­ter­na­tive in dishes like le­chon kawali, adobo, and teriyaki.

So you see, go­ing all veg might not re­ally be a los­ing propo­si­tion at all for many of us meat lovers who are in it for the fla­vor, tex­ture and, well, be­cause meat is meat. “I am thrilled that ve­g­an­ism is gain­ing mo­men­tum here in the Philip­pines. It used to be un­think­able to eat solely plants and food with­out any an­i­mal prod­ucts,” says David. She finds it a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward, con­sid­er­ing that we are a na­tion that loves pork and chicken to a fault. Con­vinc­ing meat lovers to com­pletely ex­clude an­i­mals and by-prod­ucts in their diet and life­style is a long shot. The at­ti­tude to­wards ve­g­ans, for one, is quite telling. They can come across as self-right­eous when they pas­sion­ately ex­tol the ben­e­fits of ve­g­an­ism.

David knows th­ese per­cep­tions all too well. She has heard ev­ery joke there is, hav­ing been a veg­e­tar­ian for two decades and a ve­gan for two years. “Eat­ing is a very so­cial act for us, so when one makes a de­ci­sion to eat dif­fer­ently, some peo­ple might feel awk­ward or de­fen­sive and one way to ease the ten­sion (mostly theirs) at the din­ing ta­ble is to make jokes,” she sur­mises.

To change the un­pleas­ant im­pres­sion, David tries to let oth­ers ini­ti­ate the con­ver­sa­tion. She rec­og­nizes that many peo­ple are pro­tec­tive about their food choices be­cause it is rooted in their cul­ture and his­tory. Be­cause, se­ri­ously, who wants to be be­rated about the food we like to eat?

“But they can also be quite open if the en­vi­ron­ment for di­a­logue is hos­pitable,” says David. With­out get­ting into heated de­bates or sound­ing mil­i­tant, ve­g­ans can ef­fec­tively share in­for­ma­tion, stud­ies and other re­sources about the life­style.

Through Me and My Veg Mouth, David finds an av­enue to share her pas­sion and ad­vo­cacy. They hold cook­ing ses­sions for those who want to learn healthy ve­gan food, in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing pantry sta­ples and pre­pared meals. The ve­gan kitchen “pro­motes ac­cess to knowl­edge and skills that make whole food, plant­based eat­ing de­li­cious, ac­ces­si­ble and en­joy­able,” ex­plains David who car­ries the ti­tle of Chief Pur­pose, Plant and Peo­ple Of­fi­cer (C3PO) in her busi­ness card.

Care to give this Banh Mi a chance? Maybe we all should.

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