The unifying force behind food

food Part of our culture.

He. She In every event whether it is during happy times like celebrations or even formal occasions like funerals.

Food is always a highlight even when we fast as seen during Ramadan, with Ramadan bazaars and iftar buffets. Food intersects across all races and economies.

We have seen food bring people together even at green events recently organized by the Malaysian Vegetarian Society (MVS) at two different Muslim-owned, 100% vegan restaurants – Hijaw Kuala Lumpur and The Vegan Place.

On the buffet spread at the event in Hijau Kuala Lumpur were Raya dishes like lontong, nasi embit And the Kuah Kakang mushroom rendang and lemang daun lereksatay, indomie curry, and a variety of malay goody moy.

While at The Vegan Place we ate kampung style dishes such as Nanka masak lemak, ribong, sambal petai And the tempehAnd the Olam Olam, Roti Jalla, Binghat Durian, Sago Gula Melaka And even some authentic Pakistani biryani and mushroom cakes.

The food was delicious and both events attracted a mixed crowd from different demographics as well.

Everyone enjoyed each other’s company while eating sustainable foods.

Muslim-owned vegetarian restaurants, although still limited in number, are a growing market.

Vegetarian restaurants and other restaurants offering vegetarian options have been the norm here in Malaysia.

However, there is a growing trend towards vegetarian and vegan foods as our society becomes more aware and aware of the foods we choose to eat and their impact on our health, our planet and people.

global list

Some of the guests we had at Makan-Makan MVS Raya Hijau in RexKL and Makan-Makan MVS Masakan Kampung The Vegan Place in Hartamas had never tasted Malaysian dishes.

When asked why they said they were born vegetarian for religious reasons and have never tried Malaysian foods because they have been known to have meat or seafood in almost all dishes.

Oftentimes, even a simple vegetable dish may contain some hidden flavor enhancer such as anchovies, dried shrimp, or chicken and meat.

We grew up in multiracial communities and went to multiracial schools, we started to understand this again in the elementary and high school years.

When I went to my Indian friend’s house, my friend’s mother made sure I only use the pots and utensils they use for their vegetarian meals, even though we were only making instant noodles.

They recognized that as a Muslim I have dietary restrictions due to religion and they respected that.

Over the years, we have attended Chinese friends’ weddings where they served non-halal food.

But they also have a table reserved for family and friends who are vegetarians or muslims, and they serve vegan and muslim friendly food.

They also made sure that foods (and drinks) did not contain alcohol.

Again, it was an expression of respect for friends and family with various dietary restrictions.

This practice among other cultures made us think of our Malay culture as well.

When we go to Malaysian weddings, were there vegetarian options for our guests with different food preferences?

Would our Hindu and Buddhist vegetarian friends be comfortable attending and eating Malay weddings?

In a traditional kampung setting, most weddings will not have specific vegetarian options.

Therefore, vegan friends are more likely to eat sweets and egg-free drinks, or choose not to attend the event.

However, in the hotel’s newest wedding setup, we’ve noticed that our community has become more inclusive and has a separate vegetarian table or buffet line as well.

It is interesting to see that even non-vegetarians will help themselves to plant foods and try them.

Another example of how universal vegetarian menus are when we travel abroad.

Muslims who do not eat pork and Hindus who do not eat beef will often look for vegetarian options to meet their dietary needs.

Looking back at the time when our families were abroad for about four years to study abroad, our families mostly ate vegetarian and vegan foods all the time as halal meat was not readily available at that time.

So going plants to adapt to unfamiliar places is not uncommon.

Therefore, vegetarianism should no longer be associated only with specific religious practices.

100% vegetarian, vegan and vegetarian foods, excluding onions, garlic and allium, can be certified and practiced as a universal menu, regardless of religion, ethnicity or dietary restrictions.

food security

Food security is the current buzzword and it’s something we want to achieve. But what is food security?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines it as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Taking examples from the past, pre-Merdeka days and learning from them, our ancestors survived that era and had enough to eat by growing and harvesting food around the house from roots and tubers like cassava and sweet potatoes, greens like Kangkong And the Pocuk Yobe For all types of files Scientistsfruits and vegetables.

Fast forward to the present day, public gardens, home gardens, and balcony gardens are spreading all around us as we go back to our “roots”.

Learning to grow our own food can help people save money and also create an opportunity to earn money.

When we are not able to grow it ourselves, we should export local produce as it will reduce costs and reduce our carbon footprint.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommends that we all be food champions by growing our own food at home, buying seasonal and local foods, reducing food waste and eating more fruits and vegetables.

How does “what we put on our plate” help others?

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) states in the Report on Food for the Planet that “restoring nature will depend on a combination of dietary transitions, reduction of food loss and waste, and adoption of nature-positive production practices.

“Dietary transitions are probably the quickest action achievable and can help facilitate the other two.”

What dietary transitions might you ask? “As individuals, we must choose sustainable foods. Eat more plants than animals. Eat healthy and reduce processed foods while ensuring balance and variety.”

According to WWF Research, a plant-based diet can reduce agricultural land use by at least 41%.

Thus, we can move towards improving crop yields, feeding global humanity on existing crop lands and stopping deforestation.

An FAO report titled “Global Livestock and Landscapes” states that “there would be enough farmland to feed nine billion (people) in 2050 if 40% of all crops produced today are used to feed animals for direct human consumption, Whereas the available grasslands were more efficiently used as a basis for livestock feeding.”

In terms of population, the Food and Agriculture Organization states that “It is estimated that between 720 and 811 million people in the world experienced hunger in 2020. Nearly one in three people in the world (2.37 billion) does not have access to adequate food (and nutrition). ).

Many factors play a role in this, but to be on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, FAO states that “we need bold action”.

So what are these bold actions? What can we do as individuals?

Many of us have grown up knowing that before we eat, we need to make sure our neighbors have food to eat as well.

It is taught by many religions. Even in Islam, it is taught that “it is not a believer who eats what is satiated while his neighbor is hungry beside him.”

Many of us already help feed the poor and hungry in our communities, through street feeding, soup kitchens, donations and charities.

Will changing what we eat ourselves have a global impact on others?

Simply, yes. Understanding the cycle and interdependence of our current food system, these studies and reports show that animal agriculture contributes to world hunger through inefficient use of valuable food resources such as animal feed, it consumes about 75% of the global soybean crop and makes up for it. 30% of the world’s fresh water use.

If these resources were used instead to feed humans, they could feed about 10 billion people on a plant-based diet.

Therefore, reducing our consumption of animal foods has a direct impact on eliminating world hunger.

Do we know how much animal meat we eat?

Statista Consumer Goods and FMCG report that in 2021, Malaysians consumed an estimated 49.7 kg of poultry meat per person.

This places Malaysia among the largest consumers of poultry meat worldwide.

So what happens when we cut down on meat consumption?

The WWF Planet-Based Diet Calculator shows that as Malaysians, if we reduce our meat consumption to zero and follow a vegetarian diet, we will have significantly reduced our carbon footprint and there will be an overall reduction in biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural land use Pastoral use of water and nutrition.

This reduction will occur because animal agriculture is currently responsible for:

14.5% of greenhouse gases;

80% rainforest destruction; And the

80% of arable land

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) calculates for an optimal calorie range of 2,500 calories, with grains, roots, tubers, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, that we can reduce mortality by 23.35% compared to our current diet.

So, as we celebrate Merdeka and Malaysia Day by cooking at home with our family or dining in restaurants with our friends, let us all be mindful and grateful for what we have and what we can do.

Let food unite us. Let’s eat green. Let’s eat sustainably.

Let’s do it together, for the people of #KeluargaMalaysia. One green meal at a time.

Comments: letter@thesundaily.com