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Monday, May 27, 2024

Why is it Difficult to be a Vegan in the Philippines

Personally, I never found it difficult although, outside of central NCR, specific vegan products were hard to find.  Nutritional yeast for example was near impossible outside of ordering from Lazada or Shopee.

Here are five reasons why it can be challenging to be a vegan in the Philippines:

Limited Availability of Vegan Options: In many parts of the Philippines, especially outside major cities like Manila, vegan food options can be limited. While traditional Filipino cuisine includes some naturally vegan dishes like Pinakbet (vegetable stew) and Ginataang Gulay (vegetables cooked in coconut milk), these may not be readily available in all areas. Finding vegan substitutes for meat, dairy, and eggs can also be challenging in local markets and grocery stores.

Cultural Emphasis on Meat-Based Dishes: Filipino culture traditionally revolves around meat-heavy dishes like Adobo (meat stewed in vinegar and soy sauce) and Lechon (roasted pig), which are often served during celebrations and gatherings. Veganism may be perceived as unconventional or even frowned upon in some social circles, making it difficult for individuals to adhere to a vegan diet without facing social pressure or criticism.

Lack of Awareness and Education: Many Filipinos may not fully understand the concept of veganism or its health and environmental benefits. As a result, there may be a lack of awareness about vegan alternatives and how to prepare plant-based meals. Without access to accurate information and education about veganism, individuals may struggle to transition to or maintain a vegan lifestyle.

Dependency on Seafood: Given the Philippines’ geography and abundant marine resources, seafood is a staple in the Filipino diet. While some individuals may choose to follow a pescatarian diet that includes fish and other seafood, strict vegans may find it challenging to avoid seafood-based ingredients like fish sauce (patis) and shrimp paste (bagoong) that are commonly used in Filipino cooking.

Cost and Accessibility of Vegan Products: Vegan alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs, such as plant-based meats and non-dairy milks, are often imported or produced by niche brands, making them more expensive and less accessible to the average Filipino consumer. Additionally, specialty vegan products may only be available in select stores or online retailers, further limiting access for those living in rural areas or smaller towns.

Overall, while the vegan movement is gradually gaining momentum in the Philippines, individuals may still encounter various challenges and barriers when trying to adopt or maintain a vegan lifestyle. Addressing these obstacles will require efforts to increase awareness, expand access to vegan options, and promote a cultural shift towards more plant-based eating habits.

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