You’ve probably heard of vegetarian artists and show-biz celebrities, or even vegetarian athletes. But a vegetarian policeman? It seems too hard to believe that a policeman, surrounded and exposed to street-level food options of which meat is the staple, would choose the narrow path to a meat-free diet.
Meet Police Supt. Redentor J. Maranon, who at 46 became vegan in September 2010. Maranon may well be the only one of his kind in the PNP roster. He’s not only a vegetarian, but a strict vegan (a vegetarian may still opt to consume eggs and dairy, but a vegan only eats 100 percent plant-based food).
Maranon was among those who attended the Philippine-led World Meatless Lunch event Oct. 1 at the Events Hall of CW Home Depot, Makati City. He was accompanied to the event by fellow vegan Sona Roy, camp director and the man behind the Eco Village in Zambales, and Dada Shivesananda Avadhuta of the Maharlika Tai-Yo Wellness Center.
At about 12:30 p.m. on that day, over 200 Filipinos from all walks of life sat down together and shared a sumptuous lunch, but with something conspicuously absent: meat. The event saw students, nutritionists, beauty queens, members of the media, scientists, Yoga teachers, a congressman (Meatless Monday Bill author Rep. Teddy Casiño), enjoy various meals with the unanimous verdict that it could be possible for humans to enjoy delicious, nutritious, and filling vegetarian meals without meat, fish, chicken, seafood and dairy products thrown into the mix.
Maranon, at six feet tall and at his age still bears a perfect posture, said he decided to become a vegan in order to change the image of the police force.
“I want to help my fellow police change their lifestyle and make God the center of their lives,” he said.
Maranon also cited studies that show a purely plant-based diet would make him avoid cholesterol-inducing diseases like heart disease that could render him useless in the police service. He also cited a PlosOne study showing vegetarianism makes humans more compassionate.
A neuroscience article in PlosOne journal in May 2010 described the tangible differences among the brains of vegetarians, vegans and omnivores. The brain, as it was found out, tended to rewire itself toward compassion or empathy to fellow beings when subjected to a vegetarian diet. Neuroscientist Custer Deocaris, World Meatless Lunch founder, showed a copy of this study which presents the first neuroimaging evidence of brains wired for compassion when exposed to a meatless diet.
A tofu sisig cookout was also held at the Verman Car Park on Miranda Street in Pampanga, led by former Councilor Louie Reyes who heads the Green Youth Brigade. Inquirer employees held their own meatless lunch as they prepared vegetarian pasta, salads and empanadas.
Meatless embutido, tofu sisig
The World Meatless Lunch food fare included traditional Filipino foods “re-imagined” without using meat, such as Kare-Kare and Kaldereta Fusion, meatless embutido, adobong tokwa, tofu sisig and meatless bola bola.
Five vegetarian restaurants in Metro Manila prepared the meals for free, namely: Oscar Anne’s vegan cafeteria owned by public health experts and nutritionist-dietitician Dave Varona and Blecenda Miranda Varona; Nanay V’s catering of breastfeeding expert Nona-Andaya Castillo; Blissful Belly at Xavierville Avenue, Quezon City owned by integrative medical doctor Omar Arabia; Pipino Vegan Restaurant on Malingap Street, Teachers’ Village owned by vegan Alessandra Lanot; and Wabi Sabi Noodle House and Vegetarian Grocery owned by chemist and graphic artist Ibarra Padolina.
Roy told the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the event that the essence of the World Meatless Lunch is the same reason the EcoVillage was created: to fight climate change. EcoVillage is situated along the banks of Cabatuhan River in Zambales, purportedly one of the cleanest rivers in the world, where mangroves and other indigenous plants thrive along its banks.
Vegan beauty queen MJ Lastimosa and Grendel Alvarado, who won the first cycle of the Philippines’ next top model, were also present at the lunch.
A total of 117 students from Sophia School of Bulacan—a transitioning vegetarian school—performed cultural dances and songs. They were led by psychologist Lorenzo Abacan and nutritionist-dietician Ann Abacan.
Chef Marie Itchon Gonzalez, the mastermind of Kitchen Revolution, an Alabang-based gourmet food company that specializes in holistic, plant-based cuisine, prepared fresh vegetarian noodles and green smoothies on the spot. She said that she believes that the Philippines is ready for whole foods and plant-based cuisine. Her job, she said during her cooking demo, was to “make vegetables look and taste sexy and bring it out to the limelight.”