|Hungry Ang Mo spills the beans on life in Singapore|
Guest Post by Ben Holbook
Luke Otter, better known as Singapore's number one vegan/vegetarian food blogger Hungry Ang Mo, is a British expat who has lived in Singapore for four years. Having grown up in the much less exotic environs of Manchester, England, where local delicacies comprise chip barms, Eccles cakes and Boddington's Bitter, it's understandable that his passion for gastronomy was only really kindled after he made the move to Southeast Asia.
Since then though, he has made it his mission to try all the vegan delights that Singapore has to offer. Ben Holbrook from HotelClub.com Singapore caught up with him for a chat about his foodie travails in the Little Red Dot so far...
How difficult was the transition from Western culture to Eastern culture and looking for vegan food?
It really all depends on which Eastern country you end up settling in. Personally, adjusting to the culture in Singapore was relatively painless, as it is quite a 'Westernised' country. However, if you're thinking of moving to China, the transition will be much greater. I would always encourage anyone who moves to Asia to dive right in. Don't hide away in an expat community. Make friends with the locals, eat where the locals eat, and learn the local language. Vegan/vegetarian food can be found in plentiful amounts in countries such as Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand (countries where Buddhism is the prominent religion). However, if you're considering the Philippines, Indonesia etc., then you are going to find it extremely difficult to find anything vegetarian.
If and when you have felt home sick, where have you gone in Singapore for good Western food to remind you of home?
Coming from miserable Manchester, I seldom get home sick. I would like to think I easily adapt to my surroundings, and I don't spend much time reminiscing about past environments. There are certain English foods I certainly miss, which can never be found in Singapore. Authentic English chip shop chips and a traditional English breakfast are a couple of items I get a little nostalgic about. Veggie Cottage, which can be found in Little India, offers some of the more high quality Western dishes (even better than my Mum's cooking), so if I ever catch myself dwelling on thoughts of English food, then I will head there.
Since moving to the city, has it changed or evolved? And has this occurred for the better or worse?
Singapore has historically been one of the fastest growing countries in the world, and that evolution is showing no signs of slowing down. In just a few years, the entire landscape of Singapore can change significantly. A negative to this development is that Singaporeans are now living in almost an alternative reality. Work, money, and materialistic items consume almost every citizen's thoughts here, with little time spent searching for true happiness. On the other side of the coin, visitors to Singapore will encounter probably the cleanest and safest country on the planet. Additionally, I find the local people to be friendly and welcoming, despite the insurmountable levels of stress they are faced with.
Are the bigger vegan brands getting the vegan meals right or do you prefer the smaller eateries?
In Singapore we have a number of vegetarian/vegan chains, such as Komala Vilas and Vegan Burg, who have been serving excellent meat-free food on a national scale for a number of years now. For myself though, nothing can beat the ambience and quality of hawker centre food. The true heartbeat of Singapore culture exists in the small eating houses that can be found dotted all around Singapore. If you're wanting to eat great quality, cheap local food, then nothing beats the hawker centre environment.
Thanks to Luke for taking the time to speak with us. If you're interested in finding out more about Luke and his gastronomic experiences, be sure to visit his blog Hungry Ang Mo. You won't find a more thorough take on what's out there in Singapore for vegans and vegetarians.
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