Eating mostly plant-based diets are on the rise in the West. More Americans are identifying as either vegetarian or vegan every year. One study found that the number of people who follow a plant-based diet in the United States went up from 290,000 more than 15 years ago to 9.7 million in 2019.
There are numerous reasons people are avoiding meat and animal by-products, one of which is for the environment. Protecting the planet and eating a plant-based diet go hand in hand because livestock produces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Others are going vegetarian or vegan because of health or moral reasons.
In Singapore, the situation is different. Most people (almost half of the population) still identify as meat-eaters. Meanwhile, 39 percent say that they are flexitarians, meaning they eat mostly plant-based but still occasionally allow themselves to eat meat. Only 7 percent of the respondents in the survey published in 2020 are vegetarians or vegans.
If more people start to follow a plant-based diet, more options in the grocery stores and restaurants will appear and cater to their needs. People who do not eat meat, therefore, will find it easier to stick to their diets.
However, even though only a small portion of Singaporeans eat a plant-based diet, it would not be too difficult to find options that cater to your lifestyle.
When Dining Out
Finding a restaurant that serves vegetarian and vegan meals would not be a challenge in Singapore. A number of restaurants either serve at least one plant-based offering or serve only vegetarian and vegan meals.
Many local restaurants have promotions that highlight their plant-based menus.
Singapore is, after all, a melting pot of cultures. In the city-state, people hailing from across Asia, Australia, and other continents meet and work together. It also has one of the biggest transportation hubs in Asia and one of the best airports globally, which means that many people pass by it every day. It is only natural that restaurants that cater to specific dietary needs, which in this case should be meat-free, have started to open across the island.
In fact, as of 2016, there are over 500 vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in Singapore. Even fast-food joints such as McDonald’s have jumped aboard the bandwagon and are now offering plant-based options for vegetarian and vegan diners.
Moreover, people who follow a plant-based diet can also visit Little India. Singapore has a large Indian population, and, therefore, numerous restaurants are serving Indian cuisine with tasty plant-based offerings.
In the Supermarket
At home, cooking plant-based meals would not be a problem, either. In recent years, meat substitutes have been launched in Singapore. Beyond Meat, which uses peas, mung beans, fava beans, and brown rice in place of animal protein, sells plant-based burger patties and sausages. It is now available in grocery stores nationwide.
Locally, Shiok Meats, a homegrown brand, recreates shrimp meats from stem cells, and Sophie’s Kitchen, a company that makes a plant-based substitute for seafood. More startups are perfecting their meat-free substitutes to address the demand locally and all over the world.
In addition, while the nation has limited farming land, vegetables and fruits are plenty in Singaporean markets. The nation imports food from all over the world, including neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia, China, United Kingdom, and others.
Buying vegetables is still more affordable than getting meat in Singapore. Going vegetarian or vegan in the Southeast Asian nation would not break the bank, even if it is not a popular diet.
Before Going Plant-Based
However, while it is easy to go vegetarian or vegan in Singapore, people should not immediately restrict their diets. They should first consult their doctors about the planned change. Some people, due to an existing medical condition, may not be advised to cut off meat.
Moreover, people should do extensive research about the plant-based lifestyle. The major shift requires extensive knowledge about nutrition, and it demands careful planning. Cutting off meats would eliminate sources of vitamins and minerals in your diet. There needs to be a suitable replacement.
For example, people typically get proteins from meat. If you eliminate meat, you should replace it with soy (tofu) or legumes, both of which have high amounts of proteins.
You might also be advised to take supplements. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient naturally found in animal products, and your body cannot produce on its own. It is important because it supports the normal function of your nerve cells. If you go vegetarian or vegan, you might need to take vitamin B12 supplements.
Singapore is very welcoming to everyone, regardless of diet. You will easily find the kind of foods that you need in the city-state.