What it is like to be vegan in: Indonesia
In this article in the 'Vegan in the World' series, in which vegans from all over the world explain what it is like to be vegan there, Jeffrey Chandra tells about his experiences of being vegan in Indonesia.
Interview with Jeffrey Chandra from Indonesia
How many people live in your country?
There are about 260 million people in Indonesia.
Do you know how many of those people are vegan in your country?
There are about 2 million vegans in Indonesia.
How long have you been vegan?
I have been vegan for 6 years.
Why did you decide to become vegan?
For ethical and spiritual reasons, and for my love of nature.
Vegan in Indonesia
Indonesia is ranked as one of the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly countries in the world. Indonesian cuisine is naturally based on dishes full of vegetables, rice, tofu, and tempeh. Although meat consumption is rising as average income rises, more and more Indonesians are migrating towards healthier and ethical plant-based choices. Although veganism as a lifestyle choice is still relatively new, the plant-based market is growing rapidly.
Some helpful Indonesian words
- Bisa tolong membuat hidangan ini tanpa ... (Can you make this dish without ...)
- bahan hewani (animal ingredients)
- daging (meat)
- ikan (fish)
- bebek (duck)
- ayam (chicken)
- terasi (fish paste)
- susu (milk)
- telur (egg)
- cheese (keju)
- tolong (please)
- terima kasih (thank you)
Can you tell me a little bit more about your family? Are they vegan? What do they think about you being a vegan?
Only I am vegan in my family. I started going vegetarian when I was in college. They disagreed with me because they were afraid I would get nutrition deficiency. But I proved myself to be healthier than before when I went to my hometown for vacation. Since then, they have supported me.
Is it difficult to be a vegan in Indonesia? Why (not)?
No, because Indonesia is a tropical country that has many vegetables, fruits, and tempeh. Also, many of our traditional foods are already vegan and very cheap.
What are some of the challenges you face in your daily life as a vegan? What do you do when you go out with friends or visit family?
Maybe going to a party or to another place where it is hard to find vegan food.
Can you describe what you eat on a normal/average day?
Rice, tempeh, tofu, soup vegetable, fruits like banana or papaya, green leaves.
What is your favorite vegan dish from your country?
Tempeh of course!
“My favorite vegan dish? Tempeh of course!”
- Jeffrey Chandra
What is Bakso?
The traditional bakso dish is an Indonesian meatball, made from cow meat. You can find them all around Indonesia, from street vendors to cafes or top-end restaurants. They can even be bought frozen from the supermarket.
The vegan bakso is made from mushroom, tempeh, and flour. The balls are commonly served as a dish or soup with noodles or vermicelli (thin rice noodles), tofu, and wontons (filled doughy wrappers, steamed or fried).
Can you recommend a restaurant where you live?
I would of course recommend Fortunate Coffee in Yogyakarta!
If you have a vegan business or work at a vegan business, can you tell us something about it? What is the business, when did you start it?
I work at a Vegan Café called LN Fortunate Coffee in Yogyakarta, this is a franchise from Taiwan.