So you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change and diving into the world of vegetarians. Compared to popular belief, it’s really not that difficult to go vegetarian, even if our diet largely consists of cai png.
At the same time, it isn’t a quick process either. To help you ease into the transition, we created this quick guide to help you begin a vegetarian lifestyle in Singapore.
Know What Vegetarian Diet to Go For
If you’re just thinking about making the switch, the first thing you should do is to determine what kind of diet you’re going for, which will depend on your preferences and needs.
There are different approaches to vegetarianism (and controversies over which ones should be considered true vegetarianism!), such as the most common ones below:
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Known as the “traditional vegetarian diet,” this diet excludes meat (pork, chicken, beef) and fish but not dairy and milk products. In other words, someone with a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet can still consume eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products.
This diet excludes all types of meat (pork, chicken, beef, fish) and animal-based food except eggs. Contrary to the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, this diet doesn’t include dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk.
This diet excludes all types of animal-based products including meat, fish, dairy, and egg. A vegan diet only includes plant-based food, including plant-based dairy or meat substitutes.
As suggested by its name, a flexitarian diet is a little more flexible than other vegetarian diets. This diet encourages consuming more plant-based foods, but allows some meat and other animal products such as eggs and dairy sometimes.
This plant-based diet excludes all types of meat except fish. The consumption of egg and dairy products will vary from person to person.
Start in Phases
The biggest mistake that aspiring vegetarians make is that eating plant-based food would automatically make you healthy. That’s not always the case since some plant-based substitutes like almond milk lack in protein and other nutrients that your body needs.
We’re not saying that plant-based diets are inherently bad, but rather, it’s poor diet planning that can make them bad. Therefore, it’s important to start slowly and give your body ample time to get used to a plant-based diet, especially if you’re used to consuming meat.
You can start by eating less meat compared to your usual intake. From there, you can start cutting down red meat in the second month, then chicken in your third month, and so on.
Alternatively, you can also try limiting your meat intake to lunch only, then try to go for vegetarian meals for breakfast and dinner. Don’t be afraid to switch things up a little until you reach your goal!
There’s no strict timeline that you should follow, and you can go as slow as you’d like. Just remember to find other sources for iron, protein, and other nutrients for a well-balanced diet.
|Nutrient||Major Vegetarian Sources|
|Iron||Green leafy vegetables, lentils, legumes, iron fortified food and dried fruit|
|Vitamin B12||Tempeh, dairy products, eggs, fortified products (e.g. cereals)|
|Calcium||Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified products such as soybean milk, water, juice, cereal, bread, biscuits; tofu made with calcium salts|
|Zinc||Wholegrains, nuts and legumes, tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts and seeds, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products|
|Protein||Seitan, tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, green peas, quinoa, oats, wild rice, chia seeds, nuts, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes|
Explore Vegetarian Cuisine in Singapore
Admittedly, one of the hardest things of being vegetarian is knowing where and how to source your food. It gets even more difficult when you’re with friends who aren’t vegetarians.
Luckily, Singapore is considerably vegetarian-friendly.
If you’re unsure what kind of meals to eat, the easiest way to introduce yourself to vegetarian cuisine is by checking out vegetarian and vegan restaurants. There are also plenty of hawker centres that offer vegetarian options, particularly in Chinese and Indian stalls.
Give your taste buds a chance to find out what you like and don’t like, which you can use for reference once you start cooking your own vegetarian meals. As a tip, you can also check out some catering services specialising in vegetarian cuisine for boxed meals and dinner sets.
Otherwise, the internet is filled with vegetarian recipes. Use that to your advantage.
Get a good idea of what you want to cook, and then you can start experimenting with different ingredients. Don’t be afraid to spice things up by adding herbs and spices.
Remember that it’s always best to get fresh produce to minimise your intake of highly processed foods.
You can source whole, unprocessed food from wet markets or your local grocery store, many of which have delivery services. Alternatively, there are also some online food delivery services that specialise in plant-based dishes.