Lisha is an outspoken and driven volunteer of Animal Allies and the Vegetarian Society Singapore. Ironically, Lisha does not consume vegetables! So how did a veggie hater become vegan? Here's her story:
What inspired you to turn vegan?
I was browsing through BuzzFeed videos on Youtube and came upon this particular video: "Foodies Kill Their Food For The First Time". It was then I realised, that even though we are omnivores, there is no need to eat meat. We can thrive on a plant-based diet, and I've met many vegans who are far healthier than the average person.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with turning vegan?
I hate vegetables but changing food choices was not as challenging as dealing with the cultural shift and change in worldview. The meaning of being an "Animal Lover" meant not eating them too. Before being vegan I used to call myself an "Animal Lover", and I would eat mainly free-range, hormone-free, "humanely" raised and slaughtered animal products. So now with this new perspective, how am I supposed to feel or react when someone tells me they love animals while still having a chicken wing in their hand?
Dealing with these situations and questions posed the biggest challenge; How I dealt with (and am dealing) with this, is basically to understand the psychological and cognitive influences that are involved in the justification and support of people eating meat and other animal products. A great book that discusses this in detail is "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows" by Dr Melanie Joy.
How do you act on your beliefs?
During my first year being a vegan, I hosted a few documentary screenings and was very involved with Vegetarian Society Singapore and Animal Allies. With changing work commitments, I've found other ways of being an activist such as posting online, emailing companies to encourage them to introduce more vegan options and also helping my mom with the vegan cheese business.
Lisha is an NTU researcher who assists in making handmade cheeses for her mother in her free time.
What is your favourite dish to cook and could you name your ideal spot to dine out?
I frequent nomVnom and love their extensive range of burgers there. When it comes to family gatherings, my family loves Eight Treasures Vegetarian. Aside from the excellent service and delectable cuisine, they are also one of the only few vegetarian places that serve alcohol - which is a must for my family.
Chinese dishes served at Eight Treasures Vegetarian.
What advice would you give to people embarking on the Vegan lifestyle?
Join a community to meet like-minded individuals! Vegan groups on Facebook such as "Vegans in Singapore" and The Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group can provide a wealth of social support and helpful information to make transitioning to a vegan lifestyle easier.
From a psychology point of view, it helps when one has people around them who validate their opinions and beliefs. Finding and maintaining a sense of belonging with other vegans you may not know requires a bit of effort and confidence, but reaping the benefits of reaffirmation, comfort and happiness makes it well worth it.
Do you think it’s difficult and expensive to be Vegan in Singapore?
It is becoming increasingly manageable to be a vegan in Singapore these days. Vegetarian eateries are popping up in every corner. If you're mostly wholefoods plant-based, your cost can be lower. If you like particular imported vegan food like mock meats or cheese, then you can expect to pay more for it. However, if you try getting these items on clearance, which they often have in Cold Storage and various marketplace, you can save some money as well.