Save the earth, starting from your plate

What if we told you that going vegan does not necessarily mean giving up your favourite hotpot, chocolate cake or even yu sheng at Chinese New Year? And that Singapore in fact, has no dearth of appetising vegan options, being ranked the second-most vegan-friendly city in Asia?

These are just some of the myths about veganism that NUS VEGE (Vision of Equality for a Greener Earth) hopes to dispel. Officially founded in AY 2020/2021 as an Interest Group for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone interested in reducing their consumption of animal products, NUS VEGE works to raise awareness about the ethical, environmental and health aspects of a plant-based diet and lifestyle, as well as educate the NUS community about the plight of animals and the environment caused by animal agriculture.

Asked what he found most fulfilling about his choice to adhere to an environmentally sustainable vegan diet, outgoing NUS VEGE President Cody Lim, who is entering his final year at the NUS Business School, said, “The most rewarding aspect of adopting a plant-based diet is the knowledge that my diet helps animals, the environment, and my health, and also watching the people around me becoming more receptive towards a plant-based diet when dining with me.”

Having been inspired by an ex-classmate to venture into a vegan lifestyle, NUS VEGE member Teng Chu Yu added, “Every plant-based advocacy you engage in and every plant-based choice you make accumulates into something larger, sparking deeper conversations about the implications of our dietary choices and triggering a ripple effect for good.”

The power of the community

From semesterly vegan potlucks and bake fundraisers, to outreach booths and taste-testing sessions that offer meat alternatives, NUS VEGE has a plethora of activities to inspire and support budding vegans. Comprising a diverse, close-knit community of staff and students, NUS VEGE has coordinated foodie tours to explore scrumptious vegetarian options on campus. It has also held Bake-and-Chat-with-a-Vegan workshops to teach participants how to make vegan snowskin mooncakes, pineapple tarts and apple pies, while offering the opportunity to befriend other like-minded vegans.

In addition, to help members incorporate easy and convenient vegetarian dishes into their lifestyles, NUS VEGE has put together a communal archive of delicious vegan recipes that tantalise the tastebuds—chocolate pudding cake, tofu miso satay noodles, and vegetable pancake, to name a few. It has even collaborated with the Office of Environmental Sustainability to produce a video showcasing a healthy and easy recipe for vegan Jajangmyeon, a popular Korean noodle dish.

Kickstarting the Meat-Lite Movement

Reaching out to the NUS community at large, NUS VEGE started the Meat-Lite Movement, collaborating with the Office of Campus Amenities, the Office of Environmental Sustainability as well as NUS canteen stall owners. The project aims to promote a shift in dietary preferences away from meat towards a more plant-based one by addressing barriers in the campus environment. Besides making plant-based options available and more visible in NUS canteens by expanding meat-free offerings and highlighting existing ones in stall menus, the project also focused on creating a vegan support network in halls and residences.

Spreading the love

Expanding beyond the campus, NUS VEGE is also active in community engagement efforts that marry its conviction and desire to do good.

While its activities have been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, it has ongoing initiatives such as weekly volunteering sessions with Mummy Yummy, a not-for-profit organisation that delivers free cooked vegetarian meals to needy families all over Singapore.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to pursue a plant-based diet, or simply joining a supportive community of like-minded peers, check out NUS VEGE on NUSync or their Instagram page!