PETALING JAYA: Apart from health benefits, plant-based meals can be a pleasure to the taste buds as well.
A leading vegan advocate of the “green” lifestyle, Kalidewan Murugaya, or Chef Dave as he is fondly known, is on a mission to promote and create healthy meals, one person at a time.
A vegan is one who does not eat any food derived from animals or avoids animal products.
Formerly a chef at a five-star hotel, cooking meat dishes came with the job for Dave.
It was the same when he spent a year working on a cruise liner, where he cooked steaks and other meat dishes.
However, an injury he sustained in the kitchen resulted in surgery. He then suffered another setback when two days before the movement control order was imposed in 2020, he was told his contract would not be renewed as the pandemic had grounded the cruise business.
While recuperating from surgery, Dave came across a documentary titled Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, which changed his life.
“After watching the documentary, I learned that animal husbandry would lead to global warming. But as a chef, I could not initially relate to a meat-free menu.
“But when I saw how eggs were processed, I became depressed and wondered about our human compassion and love for others,” he told theSun.
Dave immediately removed eggs and dairy products from his diet.
He started tweaking Malaysian cuisine and shared it online. To widen his exposure, he left laminated notes on his cuisine adventures at the doorsteps of residents at the condominium where he stayed.
Two years later, Dave is now a vegan ambassador to six brands and collaborates with 30 companies to produce plant-based meals.
He has also created his own food academy called D’Vegan, with 3,000 students who learn how to cook and prepare vegetarian cuisine from him.
Looking back, Dave said he is humbled by the outpouring of support.
“I never expected this to happen. Even so, I believe in consistency. My team and I have to produce 30 recipes this month and we are still experimenting with different textures,” he said.
He is also not spared criticism from netizens.
“I get questions such as why I use mock meat in my cooking and about protein intake.
“I use my platform to educate audiences that we can get protein from plant-based meals,” he said.
He recounted how a fan was always tagging him on his Instagram account to show the meals she ate.
“I was curious as she was a Clean Eating Challenge participant, and ate the same meals for two months. She eventually shared that she had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a condition that affects the ovaries.
“The best part was she did not need her medications anymore. Even her doctors were surprised,” he said.
With a following of almost 70,000 on his YouTube channel, Dave is not about to rest on his laurels.
“We need more plant-based options to make it more accessible to those who want to become vegan. It may take a century to change, but I’ll support any brand that takes the initiative to include vegan products in the market,” he said.
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