The Rise of Veganism in the Philippines

The Rise of Veganism in the Philippines

Filipinos love their meat. 

A traditional fiesta won’t be complete without the usual Filipino party fare such as the lechon (roasted pig) which is dipped in liver sauce, lumpia (fried spring rolls stuffed with ground pork), menudo (pork and liver stew in tomato sauce with sliced potatoes and carrots), steamed lapu-lapu (grouper fish) etc. Except meat doesn’t just make an appearance during special occasions because daily meals often consist of Filipino favorites such as adobo, sinigang or bulalo. So to sum up, the Philippines is a meat-heavy country and one who visits this place wouldn’t be able to fully experience the culture without diving into the Filipino cuisine –which poses a problem with vegan tourists.

However, there has been an increase in veganism in the Philippines over the past decade. A Facebook group page called Manila Vegans currently has over 30,000 members and this doesn’t even include the other online vegan communities which also have thousands of members. Through this growing lifestyle, over 300 vegan restaurants are sprouting all over the country. 

If you’re in the Philippines, or planning to travel here, and searching for vegan or vegetarian restaurants nearest you, use the Happy Cow app which lists restaurants that cater to plant-based foodies.

Aside from that, plant-based festivals have been branching out left and right are getting more popular these days such as the Veggie Fest 2019 by Maxicare which I attended in March. 

Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Vendors selling fruits in an open market. Credit: Wayne Grazio via Flickr

We can give thanks to the millenials, especially those from developing nations, for this lifestyle change. Their generation seems to be more willing to shift to an ethical lifestyle and spend more money on products that align with their values, including purchasing vegan foods and products. 

There are varied reasons for going vegan. These are:

Health reasons

One reason Filipinos switch to a vegan diet is for weight loss. Adopting this lifestyle, one comes to learn of its health benefits and how all essential nutrients can be found in a plant-based diet.

Evolving from our carnivorous appetites can be quite a stretch though. Growing up, school taught us that one must eat ‘grow’ foods such as meat, eggs and fish for protein to help us grow tall, big and strong. However according to the American Heart Association, removing meat from our daily diets can reduce our chances of contracting diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, among other chronic illnesses.

Animal rights

Many vegans in the online community I follow are also very passionate about animal welfare, animal rights and animal cruelty. The find it morally unacceptable that animals are being raised for human consumption and believe that sentient beings are entitled to live their own life. These individuals see themselves as advocating against the oppression and injustice that is inflicted towards defenseless animals. 

Going vegan means that individuals are choosing not to contribute to this system of animal oppression and cruelty.

“My food didn’t spend its life in a filthy cage. It didn’t bleed, scream in terror or cry out for mercy. It wasn’t trapped, stabbed, shot, burnt, de-beaked, castrated, skinned, beaten, tortured, or denied daylight. It wasn’t crammed into a truck and transported for days without food or water. It wasn’t torn away from its mother after birth.”

Reduce carbon footprint

If you’ve watched the documentary film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, you’ll have learned that the animal agriculture is the leading cause of environment devastation (a ‘fact’ that is disputed though).

According to the film, it is responsible for 51 percent of human-caused climate change because livestock emits more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation carbon emissions combined. Animal agriculture is also resource inefficient. For example, a pound of beef uses about 2,400 gallons of water in production compared with the equivalent amount of tofu which required just 244 gallons of water.

The vegan diet is naturally low-carbon. While individuals can focus on turning off the lights when not in use, cycling or going zero waste, the choice to eat meat can mean nullifying all these good deeds. By switching to veganism, you can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year and all the fossil fuel and human energy required to raise, butcher, store, transport, distribute and refrigerate can be avoided.

The Rise of Veganism in the Philippines


Very few Filipinos switch to veganism because of spiritual practices. Some Filipinos shift to a vegan lifestyle to evolve beyond the ethical level of culture they are born into. Up to the point of switching to veganism, killing animals for food has been a very natural occurrence in our culture that’s easily justified as part of our tradition and need for survival.

However as soon as you go vegan you will learn to have compassion for yourself, have compassion for animals and other humans, and finally be able to establish a moral and ethical code to guide your everyday life. 

It doesn’t really matter how you have come to choose this lifestyle. Whether your reasons are health-wise or morally driven, let’s acknowledge that there is the same end game in mind – to live in a better, healthier, less violent and greener world.

If you are thinking of going plant-based but overwhelmed at where to begin, check out Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday Movement and start with cutting out meat one day a week. Join vegan Facebook groups and follow some brilliant plant-based influencers such as Eleanor Laura Davan Mills aka Deliciously Ella, Ellie Bullen founder of Elsa’s Wholesome Life, Rich Roll and Simon Hill aka Plant Proof. After all, being vegan in a wildly carnivorous world is not easy and surrounding yourself with people who understand and ‘get it’ will help you on your journey.

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