With sizzling mushrooms instead of pig's face, cookbook author Jeeca Uy fires up TikTok feeds with her plant-based version of sisig, preaching to meat-loving Filipinos that any dish can be vegan and delicious.
The 24-year-old commands a strong following of over 900,000 combined on TikTok and Instagram with her vegan takes on Filipino comfort food such as adobo and lumpiang shanghai.
"The most fulfilling aspect is probably seeing people try vegan food even if they’re not vegan. My family loves the try the food I make and they enjoy vegan meals with me from time to time," Uy told reportr.
"It’s nice seeing people becoming more open to the concept of veganism and incorporating a few vegan meals into their days. It can really make a huge difference," she added.
@thefoodietakesflight #vegan sisig ???????? - and don’t worry I had this a ???????? #foodies #asmrfood #recipes #foodtiktok #fyp #foryou ? original sound - The Foodie Takes Flight - Jeeca
@thefoodietakesflight the whole plate for me ???? #foodtok #foodtiktok #asmrsounds #fyp #lumpia ? original sound - thefoodietakesflight - Jeeca
What being vegan means
For Uy, becoming vegan was an overnight decision she made in 2015 after watching a documentary called "Earthlings" which made her realize that she "no longer wanted to contribute to the cruelty towards animals".
"The most difficult part was explaining to my friends and family why I went vegan and getting them to understand since it wasn’t at all common to hear someone was vegan back in 2015, at least in the Philippines," she said.
Uy embraced veganism as a lifestyle that goes beyond diet, and serves as a reminder to be more mindful of daily consumption.
"Veganism for me is a personal choice to try and do better for the environment, the animals, and myself," she said. "I see it as a lifestyle and not as a diet since veganism encompasses more that just what’s on your plate but also the products you purchase to use in your day-to-day activities."
With her recipe videos and compilation "Vegan Asian: A Cookbook" published in 2021, Uy is making veganism a friendlier choice for anyone who wants to embrace the lifestyle.
"I usually think of what non-vegan dishes I love and enjoyed growing up and think of ways to turn them vegan," she said. "So, it’s usually finding a replacement for the meat in Filipino dishes and retaining the flavors of the sauce and seasonings."
@thefoodietakesflight more of these buns - this time with a little voiceover ???? #foryou #fyp #foodietok #howto #foodtok #foodie #bun ? Lasymorning - Official Sound Studio
From vegan pancakes to her many fried rice recipes, Uy makes the most of Filipino and Chinese kitchen staples and pairs these with ingredients that can easily be bought from the nearby market as seen in her online videos.
"Veganism is actually not expensive if you know where to look and what to buy," Uy said.
For those who think that going vegan will hurt their pockets, Uy said there are a lot of available options in regular groceries such as tofu, mushrooms, vegetables, and sauces. For meat replacements, online shopping platforms such as Shopee are her go-to.
"It also helps to buy local produce and see what are in season since this can really help you save," she said.
"I personally don’t really buy a lot of packaged meals and ready-to-cook vegan food, especially imported ones, since these are really more expensive than cooking your own," she added.
Want to go vegan?
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle varies per person. For Uy, she has these tips for those who are starting their journey to veganism:
Know why you're doing it
"I think the most important tip I can give is to know why you’re doing it. For me it was because I love animals and that was the main reason why I went vegan, so that was really the reason I held on to that made me go vegan and made me stay vegan over the years," she said.
Research and check if you're getting the right nutrients
It always helps to eat a good balanced diet with carbs (rice, noodles, bread), protein (tofu, tempeh, beans, dark leafy greens), healthy fats (nuts, seeds), and lots of fruits and vegetables, she said. If you have certain dietary needs that it’d also be best to consult with a doctor.
You’ll probably receive a lot of questions from people who are curious about veganism, and even skeptics, so be ready with answers to share.
Listen to your body
There are a lot of different opinions and types of vegan diets online, but there is really no one-size-fits-all so it’s ultimately what works for you and your body.
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