I have become a vegan again for 40 days as part of our church’s prayer and fasting every Lenten season. This period marks a time of reflection to prepare for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The tradition of fasting started with the Catholics a symbol of sacrifice in their lives and is now practiced by some Protestant groups. In our church, the form of fasting varies, with some choosing to skip particular meals, abstaining from certain food groups, or simply giving up certain things for 40 days, like not watching TV, or not using social media and phones.
This is the second straight year I’ve chosen to go vegan. A vegan is someone who practices abstaining from any animal products. In terms of diet, this means not consuming meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Some products like white sugar are also avoided, since it contains charred animal bones.
Is it hard? Truth be told, despite FIlipinos’ mad love for meat, vegan food isn’t hard to come by in Metro Manila, if you know where to look. Meat may dominate menus around town, but there are plenty of dining establishments that specialize in plant-based food. I’ve written about Pipino, Susi, and Quan Yin Chay before. Here are three more meatless restaurants I’ve visited a couple times before, when I was still a full-time vegetarian.
Corner Tree Cafe
Healthy-living ladies who lunch and upscale hipsters converge in this enduring, cozy Jupiter Street spot. Voted by PETA as Metro Manila’s best vegetarian restaurant in 2010, Corner Tree Cafe serves meatless dishes with creative flair, and the results are — to say the least — delicious. By far the restaurant’s most popular dish is the Tofu Walnut Burger. The meatless burger patty is sandwiched in a whole wheat bun, served with either sweet potato fries or salad on the side. Meanwhile, the Arroz a la Cubana is an interesting blend of minced tofu, tomatoes, green olives, and raisins, served with fried bananas and organic red rice. Non-vegans may want a more “authentic” Cuban version with a fried organic egg on top.
This vegan gem is a welcome addition to the comfort food-heavy Kapitolyo. Started by owner Denise Celdran as a commissary then as a stall in Legaspi Weekend Market, Edgy Veggy has evolved into a full-time diner with a long list of meatless food that all sound tempting. Start with the Pajeon – a Korean-type of pancake with julienned vegetables covered in batter and served with sesame soy dip. Complete a faux-Korean experience with the Korean rice meal, in which a slab of pan-seared tofu is slathered with a mushroom bulgogi sauce on a bed of rice, and served with vegetables and kimchi, bibimbap-style.
Occupying what was once a house away from the busy main street of Tomas Morato, Greens has been serving tasty meatless renditions of several Filipino favorites in a cozy setting since 2001. Menu items are not necessarily vegan, with a few containing dairy products such as cheese, but the staff are only very happy to oblige to adjust the dishes. The Grilled Mushroom and Tofu Kebabs taste a lot like Pinoy barbecue, and honestly it’s hard to stop at just two sticks. Another favorite is the sisig, which uses tofu and gluten. It’s the closest you’ll get to the real thing, and served with brown rice, it’s a very filling meal. There’s also a vegan chocolate cake for your sweet tooth.
92 Scout Castor St.,
Tomas Morato, Quezon City