From performing arts to newscasting, from a corporate gig to long distance swimming, it’s a race to keep up with Davina Goh, whose robust appetite for life has led her on many dynamic pursuits. Nowadays, Davina is kept busy with her food blog davinadavegan.com and as an influencer of Malaysia’s bustling vegan community.
Long before veganism became a buzzword, Davina was already an avid practitioner. It took her 12 years to drop off meats one by one and another four years to make the full vegan transition. “I embraced the lifestyle with a lot of patience! I also approached it with a positive attitude,” Davina explained, who radiates with sunny energy and a healthy glow.
Thanks to her inspiring articles and educational videos, Davina is one to follow for a plant-powered lifestyle. As part of our Wellness Series, she addresses doable and healthy ways to embrace veganism, one baby step at a time.
What’s keeping you busy at the moment?
I’ve recently launched my website and I’m also training for the Asics Relay 2017 to complete a half marathon in October. I will be participating in the KL Eco Film Festival as a panelist for the ‘Food For Future’ discussion about sustainable farming and consumption, as well as running a vegan food booth at the Green Market.
What does a typical day look like to you?
Either strength training with my Master Trainer Jeck Beng at Fitness First or cardio like running or swimming, sending out work emails, playing with my cat. I upload new content every Friday on my blog, and a whole lot of experimenting in the kitchen trying to come up with new great plant-based recipes to share!
Why should one consider a plant-based diet?
For health. Once I went vegetarian, I stopped getting sick, my energy levels skyrocketed, my eczema was well-managed and my cholesterol dropped to a point that made my doctor jealous. I thought my health was decent before the transition and was blown away by how much more healthier I felt and became after.
How would you recommend a newbie to transition to a plant-based diet?
Take as much time as you need. The method I adopted – dropping meats off one by one – helped me physically and mentally adjust to the diet. There’s also the popular practice called ‘Meatless Mondays’, where you go plant-based on Mondays or on any other day of the week. The community in the Klang Valley is small but close-knit, and easy to find via social media Facebook groups and on Meetup.com. The plant-based palate consists of an entirely different spectrum of textures and flavours and it deserves a chance to be savoured. At the end of the day, do what you feel comfortable with.
How can one ensure they practice a balanced, hearty and nutritious vegan diet?
Doing homework is very important. Reading up on the diet, learning how to fulfill nutritional needs, going out to F&B outlets, grocery stores, health stores and local markets, to find access to these food resources is something I cannot stress enough on. Homecooked meals help tremendously.
Some girls utilise the vegan diet to achieve the 'perfect' body and end up under-nourished. What’s the best way to prevent it from going extreme?
Malnourishment happens as a result of two things. One is forgetting to consider that a plant-based diet should be like all other balanced diets: carbohydrate, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Be conscientious about up keeping this balance and the weight loss will happen naturally. The other thing is that someone with weight loss goals may only be focusing on the end result, without taking into regard how the body is responding. Our body gives us signs all the time: the brightness of our skin, the condition of our hair and nails, our sleeping patterns, how much energy we have throughout the day. Or quite simply, what you feel like eating when you are hungry.
What are some vegan myths you want to dispel forever?
One stubborn myth is that vegans don’t get enough protein. I get ample protein from all sorts of plant-based sources, and it has given me a body that has completed a half-marathon, swam and kayaked 18km in the ocean. From my experience, protein is not the be-all and end-all of a proper diet... Eating everything in moderation is.
Another myth is that vegan food is tasteless and boring. I beg to differ! When the interest is there, plant-based food is fun to make and eat. My meat-eating friends often surprised by the range of flavours that exist.
Where are your go-to places for vegan food in KL?
For Thai foodies, Kon Rak Pak in Section 17 in Petaling Jaya serves authentic-tasting Thai dishes that are free from meat, dairy, egg, onion and garlic.
Raisin’ the Roof in Damansara Heights has a very tasty vegetarian menu with plentiful vegan options. I love their Rendang Bowl and Chickpea Crepe with mushrooms and spinach. The cafe owners have also just set up Kind Kones, Malaysia’s first vegan all-natural ice cream parlor in located in Mont Kiara.
Try Davina’s recipe for tempeh temaki with sweet potato apple mash
Wok, cooking ladle, for fork to mash, pot, cup and a measuring spoon
Nori sheets for rolling
1 cup of tempeh, cut into strips
1 tbsp organic gluten free soy sauce
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 organic cucumber, cut into strips
Optional: avocado strips, pea sprouts, fried shallots
Fried Shallots (optional)
2 cups organic cooked purple sweet potato, diced
1/2 cup finely diced green apple
1 tbsp finely diced onion
1/2 tsp organic lime juice
2 pinches Himalayan pink salt
And... 1 serving of vegan mayonnaise
2 1/2 tbsp organic soya bean powder
1/2 tsp psyllium husk
1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 pinches of salt
1/4 tsp organic agave nectar
35ml alkaline water
- Fry tempeh with soy sauce and cooking oil for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Mix together vegan mayonaise ingredients and allow to set for 5-10 minutes.
- Mix together mash ingredients.
- Cut nori sheets exactly in half down the middle, giving you two rectangular sheets.
- Take 1 rectangular nori sheet and spread a spoonful of mash on half of one side. Layer with vegan mayonnaise, tempeh, cucumber, and optional avocado and pea sprouts.
- Take lower left corner of the side that has ingredients, and carefully roll upwards and diagonally (right), until the left side of the sheet meets the middle of the sheet. Keep rolling until the entire sheet is rolled around the ingredients in an inverted triangular shape, like an ice cream cone.
- Seal the loose end of the sheet onto the roll with some mash. Decorate with optional fried shallots.
- Serve immediately.
Photos provided by Suppagood.
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