Vegans of Southeast Asia on Instagram & Malaysia Vegan Meetup 2017
So this story starts a little over a month ago with a brainchild born out of curiosity, cravings and boredom (standard). Being away at uni, I’ve been so out of the loop with the vegan/food scene in general in KL, which btw has grown by leaps and bounds since I left 4 years ago. To help get myself up to speed, I recently set up an Instagram account, @vegansofsea, where I share photos of all the amazing vegan food there is around Southeast Asia, and believe me when I say we’re spoilt for choice!
Inspired by accounts set up in other cities (as well as my sister’s @nibblingldnInstagram which now also has a blog), I started vegansofsea to create a resource locals and travellers could use to find places to eat and keep up to date with vegan happenings. Incidentally running the account has also been a great research project for myself as I’ve been able to acclimatise myself with what the region has to offer in all its diversity.
Through the simple act of sharing, I also hope to create awareness and offer support for homegrown businesses. It’s a shame to see the hard work and efforts of local vegan businesses often going unnoticed as awareness and appreciation for these types of lifestyles aren’t as developed as they are abroad (yet). As consumers, we hold more power than we realise so it’s really up to us to show our support if we want to see the local vegan/healthy food scene thrive!
But enough with the backstory… the real story begins during one of my (many) intense vegansofsea stalk seshes where I stumbled upon a post by @elinagives announcing a potluck meetup for vegans in KL. Despite being someone who usually backs out of attending things alone, I thought it would be the perfect time to meet all the people I had been interacting with on Instagram (and of course eat to my lil vegan heart’s content).
After weeks of indecisiveness I ended up making my favourite rice paper rolls with 2 varieties – mango, mint & grilled tofu, and tempeh & coriander with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. Running a little late (as usual) by the time I got to Taman Bukit Jalil there were already picnic blankets set up, outlined with tupperwares concealing their precious contents until more people arrived. It was easy to tell many people knew each other from previous meet ups, but I quickly latched on to other newbies and before we knew it, words had been said, lids were removed and the meet up had started!
What a forgotten feeling it was to be able to choose anything from the spread and not have to worry about checking ingredients. If you know me well, you’d know I’m easily overwhelmed when it comes to making decisions (especially with food!) I get flustered and end up randomly picking things without processing my thoughts and completely blanking out on 50% of the options (ask GB about my first Planet Organic experience). Lucky for me even though I missed out on some gems, everything I ate was so good it wasn’t even possible for me to have food envy.
The spread was impressive – there were pizzas, pies, chapatis, different curries, noodles, lots of baked goodies and even raw cakes. For me, savoury is king so I didn’t hold back loading up my tupperware with a mushroom pastry roll, mac & cheese, tempeh fingers, satay, a cheeky one of my own rice paper rolls, kimchi, raw cheese and later on more servings of noodles and that delicious mushroom roll.
Even though I’m not much of a cake person, I make it a point to try them when I can as I know they’re definitely not something I’d spend time making myself. These mini unicorn cakes by Aesthetic Eats were the cutest! I was blown away by the attention to detail, from the edible horn to the flower mane and the softest rainbow cake inside. They nostalgically tasted exactly like children’s birthday party cakes, and even though it’s not exactly the type of food I go for anymore, it was worth it for all the memories it brought back.
The day ended with a few speakers sharing various personal accounts of their experiences of being vegan in KL. While everyone could relate to certain struggles, with every speaker there was always the shared sentiment of love and appreciation for the small but supportive community that was growing in KL!
I’m grateful for experiencing something I never would’ve imagined going to in KL and for all the lovely people I met through Instagram and in real life. Thank you Elina for organising the meet up and thank you everyone for bringing such amazing food! xxx