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Jakarta, Indonesia - A true haven for vegans

The Jakarta Post | Agustina Wayansari | 04/04/10

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As in most other developing countries, vegetarianism has been a bit slow to catch on here in Indonesia.

In a country where the more pressing question is how to feed the millions of inhabitants with the scant food available, and less about what type of healthy food the people should eat, vegetarianism is a luxury only a few can afford.

But in a country where stalls selling sate kambing (mutton satay), sop buntut (oxtail soup) and babi guling (roast suckling pig) abound on every street, being vegan here is surprisingly easy.

And it seems that for every bite of steak or every drop of fat you consume, you can just as easily find the antidote in the assortment of vegetables (lalapan) favored in Sundanese cuisine or the mix of greens found in the ubiquitous pecel Madiun food stalls.

With an abundance of vegetables, Indonesia's culinary options never cease to satisfy the taste buds of even the fussiest vegan who refuses to eat any kind of animal-based food product.
British expatriate Lorna Power has lived in Jakarta for four years and says it has never impeded on her 25 years as a vegan.

"On the whole, most people here understand the concept of vegetarianism and it's not difficult to find a wide range of fresh vegetables and even organic vegetables in local supermarkets," she says.

During her time here, Power's most significant find has been tempeh - along with numerous other soy-based products - for which she couldn't be more grateful.

"I love tempeh, and I never knew about until I came to Jakarta," she says.

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