Posted on March 26, 2018 at 8:36 pm.
Written by Yuliana Zhang
Singapore’s reputation as a food paradise extends to its vegetarian and vegan dishes as well.
Singapore, also known as Lion City, is a vibrant Asian country with rich culture mostly drawn from four main ethnics: Chinese, Indian, Native Malays, and Eurasians.
The vegetarian and vegan foods are equally interesting making Singapore the No. 2 spot on PETA’s list of the Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Cities in Asia in 2016. With Changi Airport quoted to more vegan options than few major cities in the world, let’s explore the vegetarianism in this country further!
Traditionally, vegetarian food in Singapore is contributed by Chinese and Indian ethnics due to religion beliefs because many people are Buddhist and Hindu. These foods are usually sold at hawker centres, which are collections of stalls selling simple, local, economical foods. Many Chinese practice flexitarianism during first and fifteenth day of lunar month – which are important selling days for vegetarian shop owners. Traditional Chinese vegetarian foods usually come in form of an economic rice setting, where the customers choose the base (fried rice vermicelli, fried noodles, or white rice) and sides (protein and vegetables). The protein choices are heavily soy-based, such as tofu braised in soy sauce stew, deep fried tofu, or mock meat made of gluten or textured vegetable protein. They also refrain themselves from five pungent roots: onions, garlics, scallions, chives, and leeks for religious beliefs during this time. As most proteins are deep fried, making a conscious effort to limit the fried items and ensure fresh choices are included as well goes a long way in supporting the healthful aspects of vegetarian living.
Vegetarian options are available in common Indian restaurants, but some restaurants can be fully vegetarian with no meat options at all. These restaurants rely on many lentils or peas as proteins – such as lentil stew dhal to accompany Indian pancake called prata. While coconut milk is heavily used in Singapore’s local dishes (curry!), the practice is less among Indians. Indian curry usually uses yoghurt or milk – this can be one way to boost protein and calcium and yet still yummy option.
Many expats and younger generations choose vegetarianism and veganism for animal welfare, health, or environmental reasons. More creative fusion and Westernised restaurants have thus popped up to meet the demand, making vegetarian foods more accessible and attractive to the general population. For example, a local spicy curry-like dish called Rendang is incorporated as a Rendang mushroom burger. Dishes like acai bowl, vegetarian pokebowl, grain bowls are all among recent trends in Singapore. Interestingly, meat-based restaurants now offer vegetarian options increasingly. It’s a welcoming trend resembling what is happening worldwide.
Singapore does live up the reputation as food paradise and this extends to the vegetarian and vegan dishes as well. When traveling to Singapore, keep a balance between nutrition and exploring different cuisines. Walk more to burn off some calories (expect that in Singapore) and you can always rely on major supermarkets for nuts, fruits for healthy snacks to keep your traveling days healthy! Enjoy!