Eid is the time of year where you have to deal with nosy aunties and uncles.
While most people my age were bombarded with the all-important question of “When are you getting married?”, the question I got asked the most was –
“But what CAN you eat?”
IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW ALREADY…
I predominantly live the lifestyles of a Muslim and a Vegan.
No, those two aren’t mutually exclusive.
And yes, I didn’t die during Eid.
This was my fourth Eid Fitr as a vegan.
Despite not able to eat most of the food, as traditional Malay foods are meat-heavy, and getting jesty remarks from relatives, I had quite a decent Eid.
Here’s how I survived Eid 2019:
1. COOK VEGAN FOOD
Ever since I got back from the UK, my mum has helped me cook rendang without meat.
What you need to ingrain in your mind is that the base of a rendang dish is vegetarian/vegan by default. It’s literally chilli, coconut milk and various herbs.
So instead of adding the flesh of a chicken or cow, you could add fried tempeh, tofu or mushroom (tempeh is the preferred choice).
Have a peep at Elina Gives‘ video on how to make Vegan Rendang:
If you’re just bored of rendang, you can also make sambal.
Here’s a Sambal Tempeh video I made a while back:
This year, however, my mum couldn’t be bothered to cook much.
Rendang takes a while to cook because you have to wait for the “minyak to naik” or the oil to appear on the surface after adding the chilli and herbs.
And I just didn’t set my mind up to cook fancy since we were planning to balik kampung (go on a road trip to grandma’s house) and I had tons of things to do.
Basically, cooking rendang wasn’t a priority.
But I know I must make the effort one day.
Next eid, inshallah.
2. ASK THE INGREDIENTS
You’re bound to go to people’s house during Eid as a gesture of kinship, friendship, unity and harmony.
And you’ll get free food (yay!)
But in the Malay culture, non-meat food is rare (boo!)
It’s sad to not even see a side of vegetables, let alone a veg dish.
I don’t understand how the Malay culture has become like this when I believe in yesteryears, hosts would serve at least some salad (ulam) or vegetable pickles (acar).
This year, only one house had acar, and another (my mum’s good friend) kindly made aglio olio pasta for my brother and I.
I put aside my grievances and focused on the positives instead.
+ There will always be nasi impit (rice cake) or lemang (glutinous rice)
+ I no longer have the fear of overeating and subsequently vomiting
This raya (that’s the malay term for eid), I have a greater appreciation for ketupat palas. I found that I liked eating it on its own. It’s fatty enough thanks to the coconut milk, and I could be full after eating 4 pieces.
3. BRING SNACKS
Most kuih raya (eid cookies) contain dairy or eggs.
But I told myself that my health and the wellbeing of animals matter more than my tastebuds.
So I got over such petty emotion.
People may look at me with pity, but I have developed enough grit to not be bothered by that.
I’m still a human though and I do crave for snacks, so I made sure that I had some snacks in my bag when going out.
I had a bar of Vive Snack Chocolate bars and a packet of fried mushrooms.
But sometimes people do have vegan-friendly kuih in their houses!
In Kuantan, the most common one is tapai. Okay, it’s not a sweet snack. It’s actually fermented rice so it was sour.
I didn’t like it when I first tasted it some years back. But now I like it. See, tastebuds can change.
4. SHARE SNACKS
Because I had the packet of dried mushrooms, which was a lot, I shared it with my relatives.
They were fascinated by it and said it tasted nice.
I mean, it’s mushroom. What could go wrong lol
But the point was that they were curious about the ingredients and I showed them that you’re not deprived of eating yummy snacks as a vegan.
I did my job *pats back*
But yeah, sharing vegan food or snacks is, I believe, the quickest and easiest way to get the conversation going. It’s also effective in convincing people that vegan food tastes yummy and it’s not just grass.
5. READY YOUR REASONS
People will ask. Even though they don’t ask a lot.
But the common questions you’d need answers prepared for are:
The challenging part for me is to explain my abhorrence towards factory farming in the Malay language.
I feel it’s a primitive language and there’s no appropriate or direct translation for factory farming.
You’d have to explain in at least 10 words.
Not exaggerating, I swear!
But don’t worry about explaining so much and in a very complicated way.
In such a social setting, people just want to know the gist of it and wouldn’t remember any more. But hopefully, the conversation will come back in their minds and they would try to google about it.
PREP FOR NEXT EID NOW!
You may think this information has come a bit too late.
But I think it’s just the right time, as I’m able to tell you what I went through this year and gained more experience.
Plus I’ve also created a handy 1-page PDF checklist for you to be prepared for the next Eid.
It also includes a list of vegan-friendly traditional kuih commonly served at open houses or roadside stalls.
Hope you find this useful!