07 January 2008

My Secret Veggie Source


In the Philippines, where almost all food is laced with some form of animal-based ingredient, if not made entirely of flesh, vegetarian options are hard to come by. From the usual fish sauce (Patis) or fish paste (Bago-ong) commonly used for dipping or cooking, to the roast pig (Lechon), eaten in its entirety, rarely will you find a savory dish in this country suitable for vegetarians, much less for vegans. Although there are many dishes that can be decently prepared without meat while remaining fairly true to its original flavor, it is rare to find them readily available.

So, with our usual family fare of pasta, pakbet, labong, adobong kangkong, pansit, fritters, munggo, lumpia, torta, curries and oh so many more, all eaten as-is or with rice, and prepared with absolutely no meat or animal-based products, it is nice to break the monotony and try something different now and then.

There is this place I go to in Makati, where I secure practically all of my vegetarian products from. The place is called Veggie Boutique and the reason I choose to go there instead of the other shops deep in QC, Binondo or Laguna is because of two important factors: Accessibility and Price. The products I get there allow me and my family to prepare something out of the ordinary.

It is there that I get my fresh tofu, magic meat, mushroom sauce and other supplies. They have frozen items too, my favorites being the barbeque (P50 for 4 sticks) and mock corned beef (P60/200g pack), which are both home-made. Other home-made items are also available, such as frozen ham (P130/500g) and ready-to-eat chicharon (P20). They likewise carry imported vegetarian products, mostly from Taiwan, and organic products such as brown rice (P80/2 kilos), mascovado (P80/Kilo) and virgin coconut oil (P120/500ml.). Condiments available include home-made catsup (no onions or garlic), vegetarian seasoning, mushroom oyster sauce, veg patis and a whole lot more. Take note, as a meat replacement, Gluten costs just P90 a kilo, much less than flesh meat but more filling and definitely healthier, unless of course you are allergic to it. Another wonderful alternative is Meat Magic, a dehydrated protein-rich mix of seaweed, wheat and other ingredients that, once rehydrated, is good in stews and other dishes we all but grew up with. At P130/500g dehydrated, that is cheap. Try rehydrating some and see how much more they weigh out.

With all these, I am able to add that little new ingredient to Kare-kare, or prepare adobo sans the meat, Paksiw na Veggie-fish, that little something extra to Sinigang, Pochero's slew of vegetables + 1 new entrant --- I know, it may sound weird to most people, that someone would go veggie but look for meat dishes. I say, look at it from a different perspective, and that is partaking of the traditional dishes of your country, taking in the flavor, less the flesh. After all, isn't it the peanut sauce that gives flavor to the Kare-kare, vinegar and soy sauce to the adobo, onions and soy sauce to the Bistek, Sampaloc to the sinigang, Gata and dahon ng Gabi to the Laing, Suka, luya and bawang to the Paksiw, Tomato sauce to the Kaldereta and so on?

Which is why I always keep some of their products in stock at home, also because Veggie Boutique's prices are comparable to those at source, as I have been able to benchmark with other shops. More than just a business, I believe that this is an advocacy of theirs, which is why the prices need not be exorbitant.

They also offer vitamins and supplements such as Fern-C and Homeopathic first aid alternatives. A health drink made from pure Noni juice is also available there.

Pleasantly, it is run from a home in Palm Village, Makati, near the corner of EDSA and Estrella Streets and is also a stone's throw away from Rockwell mall. Being located in a village, I have never had problems with parking, usually able to pull my car right in front. It is open practically all day, even during weekends. I usually call though, before dropping by, just to make sure.

Veggie Boutique is located at 532 Camia St., Palm Village, Makati City. Tel. No. +632.896.1215.

4 comments:

squaretyre said...

Bro, thanks for the info. That's one place I've always wanted to visit.

FilMasons NSW said...

Kuyang,

Very good article. You had me laughing at "that someone would go veggie but look for meat dishes."

Maybe our countrymen can learn a thing or two about being vegetarian and eat relatively cheaper and healthier too. I have not though of that before.

While am not a vegetarian I love vegetarian dishes from India and Sri Lanka, almost no salt but they managed to get palatable by the different condiments and spices.

Kuyang Mar

Ang Kuwago said...

Bro. Squaretyre,

Please do. The people who own the place are very nice. If they are around, have a friendly chat with them. They sometimes invite guests to scheduled veg dinners.

Bro. Kuwago

Ang Kuwago said...

Kuyang Mar,

I can kind of imagine how to eat with little salt. It takes a few days to get used to, but once you get accustomed to it, you start tasting all those subtle nuances of all the ingredients. Such is the case on one of my trips to Hebei, China. In the beginning, I couldn't believe how apparently 'tasteless' their food was, but after a few days, slowly the food began to burst with a myriad of flavors. The downside is when I returned to the Phils, all the salty food suddenly tasted so offensively extreme.

Yes, I do get that a lot from friends, that I would decide to be veg but eat at places like Bodhi where they have mock chicken, etc. I usually tell them it just adds a bit of variety and fancy. Nice to have sometimes.

In fact, simple eating without meat helps more than just our bodies, but the environment as well. It is called direct energy transfer. As opposed to having the animals eat and drink for us first, then we eat it, why not just eat it ourselves? This manner of transfer of energy (from the sun, minerals, chlorophyll, nutrients) is not efficient. It takes, I think around 8 lbs. of grains to produce 1 lb. of animal meat. And some of the most water consuming and water polluting industries in the world are animal farms. In addition, the energy it takes to farm and process 2 kilos of beef, fit to eat, is equivalent to the energy and pollution consumed by driving an average car for 3 hours.

I could go on and on, but more than these, I chose to go veg due to religious beliefs, one based on compassion.

May you always be guided in your journey, brother!

Bro. Kuwago