The idea of living a life without eating meat may sound intolerable to some people but more and more are discovering the benefits of going vegan. According to the Veganism Society, the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019, going from 150,000 to 600,000 people. The global retail market for plant-based foods is also worth US$7 billion in 2021, up from US$5.5 billion in 2019.
To mark World Vegan Day that falls on November 1, we asked four Malaysian vegans about their lifestyle choices.
1. Davina Goh
Davina Goh is an emcee, performer, and plant-based lifestyle advocate. She currently leads the Plant-Based Campaign Unit at the Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (SPCA) Selangor, and is studying towards a Diploma in Healing Diets at the School of Natural Medicine UK.
How long have you been vegan, and what made you decide to take up veganism?
I’ve been vegan for almost seven years now. I’ve always had an inclination to become one. Compassion has coursed through my veins since childhood and I was always trying to find a way out of the meat-based diet which my parents enforced at home.
Through years of personal research and the permeation of veganism into mainstream media about 10 years ago, I came to know of the environmental and health benefits from the diet. The driving force to go vegan was kindness, the most obvious benefit I feel today is health, but the reason I stick to being one is because in a world that is progressively making less sense, veganism is one of the few things around that still does.
What benefits do you think being vegan has brought to your life?
Where do I start? I’m 39 this year and honestly feel younger now than when I did in my 20s. The vegan diet has given me so much energy. It has helped me pursue athletic feats which I never would have believed I was capable of. It has helped clear up my congested complexion and consequently helped me heal from a mental illness called dermatillomania (skin picking disorder), which plagued me for over a decade. It also brought regularity to my menstrual cycle. It has enhanced my focus and mental clarity. And it has led me towards incredibly inspiring friendships in the Malaysian vegan community and beyond. The greatest benefit is that my actions are finally aligned with my personal values and principles. A lot of people believe that veganism is a restrictive lifestyle. For me, it has set me free.
What is your favourite vegan cheat meal?
Durian and pisang goreng. I’m a simple Malaysian girl who enjoys simple Malaysian pleasures!
What advice would you give someone who is considering to take up veganism?
Don’t take it too seriously. The vegan movement has its roots in serious issues, but your own exploration of the diet and lifestyle doesn’t have to be. If you put too much pressure on yourself, chances are high that for the moments you fail, you won’t have the energy and motivation to get back up and try again. It’s also important to focus on the gains rather than the losses. Take your time, do your homework, think positive, celebrate the small victories, and above all, enjoy the process.
See also: Asia's Best Vegetarian And Vegan Tasting Menus