Taipei, Taiwan 2015/11/21
First, I’d like to say a big thank you to Ruby Wang for organizing and interpreting our Taipei event - we couldn’t have done it without her energetic support and tireless effort. The enthusiasm for vegetarianism in Taiwan is surprisingly huge. There are THOUSANDS of vegetarian restaurants in Taipei and throughout the country. Taiwan is a vegetarian heaven! Taiwanese Buddhists are serious about vegetarianism...so serious that many don’t even eat “provocative” vegetables such as shallots, chives, onions, garlic or cook with wine and other spirits. This restriction posed a new challenge for us as we are ordinarily big fans of these particular flavours.
We did two sessions in Taipei. In the morning we made Tofu Quiche with a rice crust, tomato soup, ‘shiomomi’ salad, and apple pie. In the afternoon we made pizza (everything from scratch - the crust, sauce and the cheese), herb dressing salad and tiramisu (also, everything from scratch). Nearly all of the recipes had to modified to omit “provocative” ingredients, yet still turned out to be remarkably flavourful. Thankfully, suitable ingredients were pretty easy to find and our friends brought us around to do all of the shopping (Thanks Ruby, Gordon and Kris!). In the morning lesson, Meg prepared an impromptu addition of ‘yaki onigiri’ (grilled Japanese rice balls) and everyone absolutely loved it. As always, the apple pie was a big hit. We received an email the next day from a participant who made an apple pie for her family - and her family was very happy!
The lesson was held in a space which used to be a vegetarian cafe called Sophie’s Garden (Thank you Sophie!). The schedule was really tight this time. We arrived at Sophie’s Garden late in the afternoon on a Friday and had to organize everything needed for the lessons which began the next morning at 10:30am. Thankfully, Sophie has a good range of equipment and was happy to keep the vegan lattes flowing. It’s still a bit of a challenge to cook in another person’s kitchen, but It somehow all came together on time.
This time the participants were a good mix of vegetarian, vegan and non-veg people. Most Taiwanese Buddhists avoid the provocative veggies, but consume egg and dairy. Many of the participants are interested in moving towards a more vegan diet but find it hard to transition away from the standard ovo-lacto vegetarian choices. These people were very delighted by our homemade vegan alternatives. One of the non-veg members said “The pizza and tiramisu far surpassed my expectations of vegan food...frankly, I enjoyed the food much more than the wedding dinner that evening at the Ambassador hotel.” We always have a lot of fun in Taiwan thanks to our good friends and the wonderful vegetarian community!