Cover Elisa Khong, Elina Nasution, Davina Goh and Benny Price speak at the Malaysia Vegan Festival

Now's the time to turn over a new leaf, whether by a plant-based diet, informative resources, ethical retail, or local vegan groups

Veganism has taken root in all corners of the world. The plant-powered lifestyle couldn't be more relevant at a time when a bright future depends on a greener environment, animal welfare and sustainable healthcare. More than a luxury status and or a fad, the movement is officially recognised on Nov 1 as World Vegan Day. Whether you’re a devoted vegan or purely curious, there are many ways to live as a vegan in Malaysia. Begin with this nifty guide covering the ABCs of veganism.

See also: Going green: Tips & Tricks For Going Vegetarian

1. What Is Veganism?

First, vegans and vegetarians are different. According to The Vegan Society, veganism is a holistic way of life. Besides abstaining from all animal foods (including seafood and insects) as well as any animal by-products like dairy, eggs and honey, vegans avoid animal-derived products, materials, brands and places that exploit living creatures.

2. Why Veganism?

For a host of reasons. It stems from environmental concerns, religious beliefs, health benefits and a love for animals. Turning vegan is less of a sacrifice and more of a practical solution. It has also been proven to be able to reverse environmental damage in the long run.

3. Well-Known Vegans

For many, the thought of giving up meat is hard enough to go full vegan - but it’s not impossible. Among the local personalities who wear their vegan badges proud (and cook amazing vegan food too!) are vegan influencer Davina Goh, popular model Natalie Prabha and former beauty queen and plant-based entrepreneur Levy Li. On the international front, celebrity vegans include Ellen DeGeneres, Liam Hemsworth and Tom Brady; even chef Gordon Ramsey and celebrity couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z are occasional vegans.

4. Cookbooks For Vegans

Food is the ticket to one’s heart and the natural rite of vegan passage is through a steady veg-based diet. Quashing sad salads and bland carbs is an innovative vegan cuisine that inspired cookbooks of delicious and accessible homemade recipes.

Begin with ‘Vegan: The Cookbook’ by Jean Christian Jury, the ultimate and most comprehensive 'bible’ for home cooks featuring diverse, vegan recipes from 150 countries. Closer to home is ‘The Lotus and the Artichoke – Malaysia’ that takes inspiration from author and cook Justin P. Moore culinary adventures in Malaysia, resulting in familiar, easy-to-follow vegan recipes.

If the thought of leaving behind Asian staples like fish sauce, ghee, and the savoury meats is unbearable, pick up vegan food blogger Sasha Gill’s book ‘East Meets Vegan’ to be surprised by how easy it is to veganise without giving up on ramen, tandoori and bao buns.

See also: Award-Winning Vegetarian Author, Mohana Gill, On Living Her Golden Years To The Fullest

5. Plant-Powered Influencers

Social media has a major role in the vegan movement. A 2018 Statista survey shows that 63% of American Millennials identify as vegans. On Instagram, Ella Woodward of @deliciouslyella influences 1.6 million followers with her sunny approach of comfort plant-powered recipes. Applying a nutritional treatment to vegan recipes is professional dietitian Sadia of Pick Up Limes. For a culinary take, Gaz Oakley of @avantgardevegan unleashes his flair for stunning, alternative classics.  

6. Watch & Listen: Vegans On TV & Podcasts

Another effective companion on your vegan journey would be podcasts and TV shows. This year, BBC introduced its first vegan cookery show, Dirty Vegan, hosted by celebrity chef and professional skateboarder Matt Pritchard, which subject him to a host of vegan menu tests.

Podcast fans can subscribe to Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, for lifestyle topics from eating to living with compassion. On Netflix, go down a rabbit hole of documentaries like the cult Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret that exposes problems in the meat industry.

Released this year, the Game Changers film produced by Lewis Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan explores the benefits of plant-based diets for professional athletes. For a medical perspective, the documentary Forks Over Knives by 2 doctors prescribe vegan diets as curative medicine.

7. Apps & Online Resources By Vegans, For Vegans

Saving bookmarks and subscribing to channels is a sure-fire way to form vegan habits. A comprehensive website for vegan-friendly restaurants around the world is HappyCow, which provides free updates, listings, reviews, travel guides and recipes, with user recommendations.

If you love lists, you’ll want to follow Best of Vegan, a digital culinary publication that pools a network of vegan recipes, international plant-based eateries, and vegan influencer collaborations. Those who love a bargain should tap into coupons app, which offers promo codes for vegan dining across West Malaysia.

For vegan news, reports content depicting the up-and-coming movement.

See also: Food Critis Daven Wu, On Why Vegans Can Dine Out With Ease Now

8. Local Gourmet Treats

For those days when you fancy ordering food delivery, ring up kawkawveg for healthy, tasty classics like vegan nasi lemak, duck rice and kuey teow created by a Health Ministry-certified chef.

You can also have Western staples, thanks to myplantdeli’s all vegan and au naturel cheeses, sausages, meats, pizzas and desserts. For a spot of gourmet groceries, Vegan District has an extensive range of organic and plant-based brands and products: think homemade kaya jam, kombucha and fresh bakes that support home businesses, alongside rare international vegan labels.


9. Look Good & Do Good

A number of Malaysian fashion and beauty brands are championing eco-conscious alternatives. Pioneering halal, vegan and cruelty-free make-up is Orkid Cosmetics, favoured by discerning consumers drawn to its non-toxic formula.

Vegan skincare is also kind to skin, which is what local homemade brand Wunderbath is attuned to in its fun products that come in quirky shapes and forms. A newcomer to the local fashion scene is Clover International, a cruelty-free accessory brand that marries ethical with luxury through vegan leather handbags and natural mineral crystal jewellery.

10. Meet The Vegan Community

Malaysia's growing vegan scene means you don’t have to make this journey alone. Support, advice and new friends are just a click away through online vegan groups.

Besides educational materials, Malaysian Vegan Society organises fun gatherings like the Malaysian Vegan Festival and potluck parties that connect vegans from all walks of life.

Malaysian Vegan identifies vegan products and curates eating guides and even a vegan starter kit. Indie vegan initiatives, recipe sharing and local tips come in steady streams on The Kuala Lumpur Vegans and Vegetarians Facebook group that advocates inclusivity and sharing within the community.

See also: Curious About Sustainability? These Malaysian Activists & Lifestyle Brands Make It Easy

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