I think its best that I make clear my position on vegetarianism before I plunge headlong into my philosophical dissertation on this subject.
- I believe that vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle choice and that eating more veggies and less (or no) meat is beneficial in combating chronic diseases like high cholesterol and hypertension.
- I respect vegetarians and their choice not to partake of animal foods although I do not have any religious/moral convictions about not eating meat.
- I would opt to be a vegetarian for health reasons, but I just love my Beef Burgers too much.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get on to this very interesting question that was being discussed during our vegetarian makan session: Was Jesus a Vegetarian?
My first response was: “What a preposterous question! Of course he was NOT!” For me, saying that Jesus was a vegetarian would be in the same league as saying that the Holocaust did not happen. It is quite straightforward, is it not?
Ah, but you’d be surprised that there are people who have written whole books and websites to “prove” that he really was a vegetarian! Some of the arguments that were given was that it was his nature to be compassionate and so he must have been compassionate to animals as well. Aside from that, they also gave many references to historical resources outside of the Bible to substantiate their claims. Just google “Is Jesus a vegetarian?” and you would be amazed at how much material there is out there!
I guess, it would make a compelling case for vegetarianism if it could be shown that the founder of one of the major religions of the world was vegetarian, even though the religion he founded does not actually require its adherents to practice vegetarianism. Or perhaps, they argue, it was in fact a practice that has been conveniently overlooked.
For me, this sort of argument is easy to debunk. It is the same sort of True/False question that we used to get in school. I always remember this very simple principle when it comes to answering True/False questions. If the statement has the word “ALWAYS” in it, then it is most likely to be false. That is because “ALWAYS” does not allow for even a single non-qualifying event. This is especially true for medical exams. Questions such as “Breast Cancer ALWAYS occur in women” are most likely to be False because it only takes one case of Breast Cancer occurring in one man to make the statement false. (The fact is that men are affected in 1% of all breast cancer cases).
So when it comes to the argument of whether Jesus was vegetarian, rather then going convoluted philosophical arguments that imply that he was vegetarian, the simple thing is to answer the question: “Did Jesus ALWAYS eat only vegetables?” meaning that if I can show that he ate meat, then the argument is debunked.
So consider this passage is Luke 24:41-43:
This scene occurred after his death and resurrection which means that it occurred after he had been with his disciples for three years:
“………he (Jesus) asked them, “Do you have anything to eat?” They (his disciples) gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”
For me it showed three things. First, Jesus ate fish and he ate it without hesitation. Second, the disciples who had been his companions for three years gave him fish when he asked for something to eat. If he had been vegetarian, then it would be the ultimate insult to their master whose habits they should know after spending such a long time with him. Thirdly, the disciples would not have been much of disciples if after three years they have not modeled to follow their master’s vegetarian practice.
Case closed. Back to the food.
If you have been reading my other vegetarian posts, you would know that I would opt to go veg whenever I feel I have eaten too much meat. The problem is that vegetarian food is not readily available and the ones that you often see in the food courts usually serve lots of deep fried gluten disguised to look like common Cze Char meat dishes. They all have that particular taste about them that I don’t quite like. PK (a part time vegetarian) also remarked that it seemed hypocritical that one would still try to eat something that looks and tastes like the animal when the whole point was to protect them.
So when I found out that this vegetarian restaurant served Peranakan/Thai cuisine, it really got my attention as it is something I have yet to try.
For starters we had the Monkeyhead Mushroom Satay which was surprisingly quite good even though the only things that makes it a Satay are the peanut sauce and the skewers. The marinade is not your usual Satay marinade and they are deep fried, not grilled. It would have been even better for a meat eater like me to have the Satay marinated and grilled like Satay with pieces of Water Chestnuts in between the Mushrooms! That aside, the Monkey Head mushrooms have that chewability and taste about them that gives you that umami satisfaction that comes from eating meat. 4/5
Another dish that was quite commendable was the TWE Olive Fried Rice which we all felt was pretty good. They made a little concession and added a small amount of veg ham in it. The main taste still came from the liberal use of shredded olives and it was not too oily. 4/5
The Sweet and Sour delight is another dish that I would come back to order again. Instead of gluten, they use a Soy based protein “meat” which was nice and chewy and actually has that “Can’t stop eating this” quality about it. Given that it does not have any cholesterol in it, I can say that I wouldn’t mind substituting this for the usual sweet and sour pork. 4.25/5
In terms of the Peranakan/Thai food, I would say that they were a good attempt and definitely a nice departure from the usual but more work needs to be done before they would impress Peranakophiles like PowerAunty. The Buah Keluak could have been a hit since the main star of the dish is the Buah Keluak and not the meat. The gravy needed to be a little thicker, spicier and nuttier. However, I did like enjoy the Soya “meat” which was braised in the gravy. 3/5
The Tom Yam Mushroom soup is almost there but lacks that extra kick that comes from the use of Fish Sauce as well as a good stock base. But I think this can be tweaked by the addition of some Vegetarian fish sauce. 3.75/5. What I think could work really well is Tom Kha soup which is not on the menu.
We all liked the Summer Shitake Mushrooms which featured nice juicy Shitake Mushrooms simmered in a piquant sauce. The only thing we can’t understand is why it is called a Thai dish since I really haven’t come across this dish before even having lived in Thailand for two years. But still worth trying even if it isn’t your classical Thai dish. 4/5
The Whole Earth just underwent a change in the management and the new menu looks promising. The really good thing about the place is that you can actually bring anyone with food restrictionse. Not only don’t they have meats, they also don’t use garlic and onions. So they can actually appeal to people who are Vegans or Jains and to those who eat Halal and Kosher foods.
Overall, the food is not bad, but for a carnivore like myself it still only appeals to the health aspect. What I would really like to see is a vegetarian dish that is so good that I would crave to eat it despite it being vegetarian. Now that for me would be the “Holy Grail” of vegetarian food.
Disclosure: This was an invited review.
Congrats to The Whole Earth for being awarded the Bib Gourmand 2016!