HERE’S THE skinny on going MEAT-FREE
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.