Years ago, I had to order meals for my transoceanic flight and was given multiple choices when I merely wanted to have vegetarian food. Out of curiosity, I ticked “Vegan”. Honestly speaking, it was the blandest airplane meal I have ever had in my life. Having been a vegetarian for years, I had been confronted with all sorts of questions regarding my dietary preferences: “Why isn’t cake considered vegetarian? There is no meat in cake.” “Why do Asian vegetarian meals consist of ingredients like mock meat?” “Does a vegetarian meal have to be so tasteless in order to be healthy?” All these were worth pondering.
Although the word “vegetarian” appeared around 1839, it was around 1944 Donald Watson is said to have coined the term “vegan”. Vegetarians who did not consume animal or dairy products began calling themselves vegans. These days people who abstain from the consumption of any animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, leather, rabbit fur or wool call themselves vegans. I decided to embark on a survey of how this philosophy relates to Taichung. –By Judy Tan Lee Choo Translated by Anna Yang
植耀日蔬食餐廳 Veganday Cuisine
西區大忠南街91號 (04) 2376-9098
91, DaZhong S St, West Dist
On a Saturday-afternoon lunch session, Veganday Cuisine cafe was a full house, but it didn’t feel that way because everyone was eating so quietly. I sought out Veganday’s founder, a Taichung vegan who blogs under the name Bluesomeone about vegan ways of living and has founded two eateries offering vegan food, including cakes.
“Unlike vegetarians, who practice vegetarianism due to religious reasons, vegans do eat onions and garlic. Vegans do not eat animal-based produce and we try to live a life that does not cause cruelty to animals, like we do not visit zoos or aquariums because vegans do not support using animals to make money. We do keep pets but we support adoption of animals. The sweater I wear is made from synthetic fabric,” said Bluesomeone, apparently alluding to not wearing clothing made with animal-based fabrics like wool.
Aware of the common knowledge that cakes are generally made with some dairy products like butter, milk, eggs and even gelatin, I asked Bluesomeone about the cakes served at the cafe. Her reply: “We use soy or coconut milk as alternatives to achieve the creamy texture. There is plant-based jelly to substitute for gelatin. The key is to know why certain ingredients are used. We can’t expect the taste of vegan cakes to taste exactly the same as cakes using dairy produce.” I tasted the vegan chocolate cake, which was uncompromisingly creamy and tasty, although it exuded the aroma of soy milk.
瑪登布魯 Bluesomeone’s Vegan Cafe
西區民權路53巷3-1號 (04) 2229-8896
3-1, Lane 53, MinQuan Rd, West Dist
Another local vegan eatery that has received good reviews from vegans and non-vegans alike is Vegan Project. “This place is a ‘must go’ for health-conscious people. Its food is made on the spot,” said Chad, a local gourmet. “Its vegan burger portion is big and a must-order. Another great dish is the spring roll salad made with tofu. One tasty and visually surprising dish is the cucumber salad that looks like noodles. The kale and hummus salad is paired with a great dip.”
菜市場 Vegan Project
西區向上北路167號 (04) 2301-6873
167, XiangShang N Rd, West Dist
Anyone wanting to further research the ideals of veganism and find out more about how to live a vegan life in Taichung can check out local platform Vegan Frenzy, a food and music festival–taking place this month (see below)–where vegans gather to showcase not only vegan food and farm produce, but also vegan fashion, cosmetics and skincare products, household products, talks on veganism, and music.
“Some people have been converted after attending the festival. We bring value, products and people together. For example, we have vegan moms who share their experiences of raising vegan kids,” said Sidney Hsu, organizer of the festival since 2015.
草獸派對生活節 Taiwan Vegan Frenzy Vegan Food, Fashion and Music Festival
Time/place: May 11, 2019 at Taichung Broadcasting Bureau
Check Facebook for more details.
PETA-certified cruelty-free vegan fashion
On top of this job, Sidney designs and makes vegan clothing with waste fabric and sells it online. She adds, “The core idea is no cruelty to animals and that means no animal products like leather and rabbit fur. We combine a zero-waste concept with vegan value by using leftover fabric to produce our clothes.”
It is not easy for Taiwanese to discern vegan products from general products because labels may only be in foreign languages and there is no local vegan certification, like PETA, in Taiwan. “Customers could look for ‘no animal testing’ or ‘cruelty-free’ labels but there is no standardized labeling on vegan products in Taiwan. I am a vegan myself and I DIY my toothpaste, too,” said Sidney, who appears to be not only a dietary vegan but also an ethical vegan who extends the philosophy into her daily life.
晨晞蔬食生活小舖 Chen Xi Su Shi Sheng Huo Xiao Pu
太平區育賢路212號 (04) 2393-6607
212, YuXian Rd, Taiping Dist
While there are a myriad of vegetarian eateries in Taichung, it is uncommon to find vegan food. Fortunately, in this day and age, abundant information in the form of text, images and videos are easily available online. Following is a sampling of vegan food, fashion and events in Taichung for vegans, or non-vegans wanting to experience and learn more about this increasingly popular lifestyle option.