Hello, greens, goodbye, meat!

Q&A with 5 veggie lovers in a meat-crazy metropolis

 

(AP FOTO)
(AP FOTO)

WHILE some bid adieu to meat typically as a form of abstinence for the Lenten season, some have completely bid farewell to it for a lifetime.

Reasons vary — some just wanted to try it out for a couple of weeks, some don’t fancy the idea of animals getting killed… yet all had one thing in common, and that is they’ve discovered noticeable advantages, health-wise.

Here’s what some of Cebu’s veggie lovers have to say about what inspired them, how they fare in a “lechon-loving city,” and some of their best tips in shopping and preparing those delicious green treats. (FSE)

Crystal Ozamis (Sun.Star Weekend File)
Crystal Ozamis (Sun.Star Weekend File)

Crystal Ozamis
Sales director

Since when?
I have been enjoying a meat-free diet since 1999, but I still eat fish on occasions.

What motivated you?
I was never really fond of meat and when I switched to a plant-based diet, I felt that I had a lot more energy. I felt stronger and it’s important for me that I feel strong. I believe that what I fuel my body greatly improves my entire well-being, and when I take in something that is not normally in my diet I immediately feel the difference.

What does your favorite snack consist of?
Nothing processed if I can manage. I usually snack on almonds, vegetable soup or a green juice.

Do you still encounter cravings to eat meat?
Now I find myself often craving for nutritious, home made and whole foods rather than meat. I feel that eating well can be just as addictive as eating junk food.

Best tip on buying veggies?
Buy organic. Stay away from mass produced, processed, or canned or wrapped items. Support local. Try to make your own food and keep as close to eating natural and whole foods whenever possible.

Chip Lopez (Sun.Star Weekend File)
Chip Lopez (Sun.Star Weekend File)

Chip Lopez
Chef

What is your favorite healthy dessert?
Peanut butter, roasted pecans and wild honey — simply mix it up. It’s so good!

Pursuing a plant-based diet is often perceived as costly. Any tips on that?
It can be more costly if you don’t plan. Vegetables retain its freshness only for a few days, so most end up throwing out wilted greens because they either buy too much, or going back to the supermarket because they buy too little. But if you get into the habit of meal prepping, this can be avoided. And there’s that option to start your own vegetable garden. Salad greens can grow in small pots that you can just hang on your walls with minimal upkeep.

How do you go about it when dining with non-vegetarians?
We find a common ground. My friends make sure to pick places that have healthier options. And instead of it becoming an issue, it actually becomes an opportunity for them to eat healthy.

Do you feel any contrast, health-wise, between today and when you still included meat in your daily diet?
Yes. I used to be sickly growing up. But the moment I eliminated red meat and processed food in my diet, everything went away. But like I always tell people, it is more important to eat mindfully than to get caught up in diet labels. Observe how your body reacts to certain foods. It just so happens that my body prefers a meat-free diet. So find what works for you.

Manna Alcaraz (Contributed foto)
Manna Alcaraz (Contributed foto)

Manna Alcaraz
Assistant communications manager

Since when?
For a year now. It was supposed to be only for 40 days as abstinence for Lent, then I decided to do it for three months, and then six months. Eventually I told myself I don’t want to go back to eating red meat anymore. I do compromise with chicken or fish occasionally when those are my only options.

Do you cook?
If you want to survive as a vegetarian in this lechon-loving city, yes you really have to learn how to cook. I had to learn out of necessity.

What are your favorite food products to use?
Olive oil, tofu, crushed red pepper and a bunch of other herbs like basil, oregano and parsley.

Do you still get cravings?
The craving is there but it’s not so strong. Someone can eat lechon in front of me and I’m confident I’m not going to cave in. What happened was I fell in love with being vegetarian, so it’s not difficult for me anymore.

Rey Del Socorro
Accountant

What inspired you?
I have found that pursuing a plant-based diet is healthier than being an omnivore. I have higher energy levels and I don’t get sick often. I also believe it is cruel to kill animals for food, and I know I can survive on plants alone. My meditation practice has been easier and more rewarding as well.

What are your favorite vegetarian snacks?
I am a fan of smoothies made of mango, banana, ginger, malunggay powder, flaxseed, chia seeds and basil seeds. I am also fond of eating raw fruits and boiled camote with feta cheese.

Any tips to those starting out?
Vegetarian meals are not limited to salads, chopsuey and utan bisaya. Multitudes of delicious meals await a vegetarian. Do your research and learn how to cook them. Know your vegetables, herbs and spices. Start by singing “Bahay Kubo.”

Kaye Luym (Dan Douglas Ong)
Kaye Luym (Dan Douglas Ong)

Kaye Luym
Yoga instructor

Since when?
I stopped eating meat 11 years ago but I still eat fish and seafood.

What motivated you?
I watched this Michael Moore documentary, and there was a scene where a rabbit got clubbed to death. I lost all desire to eat meat since.

What’s your favorite breakfast?
A cheese sandwich and genmaicha tea.

Best tip on buying veggies?
Always buy fresh, never canned.

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