In the last decade, veganism quickly gained mainstream popularity, its rapid growth driven by social media. It has long gone past trend status, establishing itself as a lifestyle many adopt to stand against animal exploitation. Veganuary exists as one of the more popularised challenges that encourage non-vegans to pick up the plant-based diet. And while many hop on the train to do so, others see it as a detox opportunity to make up for the overindulgence in December or, in our case, a pre-emptive measure before Chinese New Year.
In the past few years, The Green Spoon, the youth arm of the Malaysian Vegetarian Society, has hosted a local version of the challenge, #myVeganuari, in partnership with local vegan and vegetarian F&B outlets to offer its participants discounts and offers. Coupled with vegan food delivery services such as Zesty Clickz, it is much easier for Malaysians to go plant-based than ever before. Here are a few places to check out before the month ends.
Old faithful — The Hungry Tapir
Still the only vegan and vegetarian restaurant with a full serviced bar, The Hungry Tapir is often the go-to spot for delicious plant-based dishes. Located in Chinatown, surrounded by trendy bars and eateries, this restaurant feels like an escape from the concrete jungle as it is decorated with hanging potted plants, pink walls and leafy decor. The Hungry Tapir’s menu includes Western and Asian flavours, and it features gluten-free and keto-friendly options. There are all-day breakfast options like nangka pancakes, hearty mains such as the jungle laksa and pink bombshell burger, and memorable nibbles like mama’s satay. Wash your meal down with one of its refreshing cocktails, juices, kombucha or hot drinks.
1st floor, 135, Jalan Petaling, KL. Tues-Sun, noon to 10pm; Fri-Sat, noon till late. For reservations, call 03 2022 2137.
Unexpectedly meat-free — MyEfy Bakery & Vegetarian Foods
For vegetarians, traditional Malay dishes like nasi kandar, asam laksa and nasi tomato have always remained out of reach simply because they are intrinsically tied to meat and fish as the main ingredients. Enter Effiza Ab Rahman and her rotating menu of rib-sticking meals that suit vegans of various inclinations, as everything she makes is free of dairy, eggs, onions and garlic. Kak Effi’s meal sets — designed for one, but can feed two small eaters — can be picked up from her shop between noon and 3pm. Do check with her for egg-free baked products that happen to be in stock too.
GM-6A, Jalan Putra Perdana 5D/1, Taman Putra Perdana, Puchong, Selangor. Fri-Tues, noon to 3pm. Call 012 623 8640 to order.
Best of both worlds — Jama KL
Although neither vegan or vegetarian, Jama KL does put vegetables in the spotlight to incredible effect, resulting in thoughtfully assembled meat-free meals that are both filling and fulfilling. From breakfast to dinner, Western and Asian (top marks for its vegan nasi lemak), main meals and light bites, there are generous options for meatless patrons to indulge in while non-vegetarian diners have their fill. Jama KL also serves beer, wine and spirits and boasts a huge outdoor deck for a worry-free dine-out experience.
J-G-03, Soho KL, Jalan Solaris, Mont Kiara, KL. Daily, 7.30am-7pm. For reservations, call 014 947 4843.
Delivered to you — Bagelicious by Nai
Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day, but for busy bees who are always rushing out the door, it may be difficult to squeeze in a decent meal any time before lunch. For something quick and easy, order a bag of hand-rolled bagels — vegan-friendly, of course — from Bagelicious by Nai to keep on standby at the start of the week. Take your pick from the sesame, pumpkin, poppy, garlic granules or everything bagel, slather on some hummus or vegan cream cheese and other toppings if you have the time, and that is one meal sorted.
Whatsapp 018 243 7375 to order.
Snacks and treats — Vegan District
It is surprising how often our usual snacks and treats include dairy products, and so finding fully vegan options can be tricky. Thankfully, the Vegan District has managed to curate an incredible array of vegan groceries. If you prefer salty snacks, try DJ&A Veggie Crisps, which come in an array of flavours including hot and spicy. If you have a sweet tooth, grab a bar of Hands Off My Chocolate Vegan Caramel Sea Salt Hazelnut Praline. While the Vegan District store is located in Kota Damansara, it also has an online shop, so you can have your favourite vegan products delivered to your doorstep.
19-G, Jalan PJU 5/4, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, PJ. Daily, 10am-7pm. Order here.
This article first appeared on Jan 24, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.