• Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    "In Hong Kong, everything revolves around food, and it was not different in my family. In my family, each meal was truly an event and that is something I still hold close. Right after we finished one meal, Dad would discuss with us what we would have for our next meal..."

  • About Leyla

    About Leyla

    "Even from my earliest years, I liked to feed people and share my food with others. I have been privileged enough to grow up in Hong Kong, live in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, and now the United States; and I have travelled extensively throughout the world, sampling the delicacies of..."

  • Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    "In Hong Kong, this is very famous and usually comes when you order Peking Duck. The restaurant will then make three dishes from the duck. You will usually get the skin (Peking Duck) which is served with..."

Why I Went Vegan

Many of my regular blog followers have asked me recently if I was now vegan and why. 

Of course, seeing my uploads from the past few weeks, everyone sees that my recipes have now been 100% vegan. So yes, people are asking questions. I decided to create this page to explain.

It all started as I was approaching my 38th birthday. As the idea of getting "older" started to weigh in, my mind began turning to healthier alternatives in my cooking and eating habits.

I have never really taken my health into too much consideration, even after I was diagnosed with severe diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Even after having two heart attacks in 2004, I took note, but did not make too many changes to my eating life-style. I cut many things down to moderation, but drastic change, not-so-much.

Maybe it is laziness, or maybe its the old 'bury your head in the sand' idea that I had when I was much younger, and seemed "invincible"; whatever it was, I really didn't put too much effort into creating that kind of change.

When I was younger, I used to be able to think about losing weight, cut down on my portions, and the numbers on the scale dropped down easily and without too much effort. Not-so-much since I hit my mid-thirties. Now it seems everything is taking a lot more effort. And it seems my health is waring more on my body and screaming at me to start paying attention.

So as my birthday loomed large, I began to take note clearly of what was going in to my body as well as start looking at other factors of what I was ingesting.

In perfect timing, a couple of friends began speaking with me about veganism completely out of the blue and without my prompting. I admit, I "half-listened" to them as my mindset was "are you kidding? I LOVE my milk and who is milk really hurting besides my own lactose intolerance which I have tried to "play off' for years?" but I thought I'd humour them. And as they talked more, I began to digest much of what they were telling me. When watching Oprah's 25 Year behind the scenes show, and her entire staff pledged to go vegan for a full-week, I thought "is this some sort of Divine sign?"

Taking that into consideration, I thought "what the heck, I'll try cooking a few vegan meals". My friends told me to substitute a meal a day to start and build up from there. I found that I was loving it and almost immediately, I began to implement a 100% plant-based diet. My body began to feel "cleaner". I didn't have all the facts and reasonings behind it yet, I was just enjoying the change. I would not "commit" and made sure that everyone knew that I was not committing, just experimenting with new foods.

As I began to do some research, I learned that plant-based diets can actually reverse diabetes and help in lowering (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, plus help you lose weight. My ears started to really prick up, and I began to delve even more into my research.

Part of my seeking change as my birthday loomed stemmed from a few incidents in my past, one being in 2009; I was diagnosed with having severe diabetes, which requires an insulin shot three times a day, plus pills. I also had extremely high blood pressure and cholesterol (among other health issues). 

In 2004 I had two heart attacks two days apart, that was really scary for me. When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was told that I had to "do" something about it otherwise I would be dead within a few months.

I was stunned. I "semi-retired" to focus on my health. I went diligently to a diabetic clinic, only to find that we were barraged with "lower your sugars" but not really told how to do it, no dietary class until the very end of a six-month program. 

I felt lost and pretty much relied on the "chemical side" of lowering my sugars and then eating to counter-act the insulin in a see-saw, high and low roller coaster. But "I" was not happy and "I" was not feeling healthy, I was feeling worse. Plus, I'd not lost any significant weight which would have helped.

In some of my research, I came across several videos on You Tube which really peaked my interest, especially two that were specifically about reversing diabetes through a plant-based lifestyle.

I decided to monitor my sugar levels and take recordings of such. In the week prior to my beginning the 100% plant-based diet, my blood glucose levels were averaging 230-250 (which is very high). Three weeks later, my blood glucose levels average 100-130; which for me, is within a normal range. While still not "ideal" in accordance with what is considered "the norm", they are coming down and have dropped significantly. 

The beautiful thing about this new average is that I don't ever feel like I am going "low". I feel great. 

Both my husband and I have lost a noticeable amount of weight and we are now focusing on toning as we continue to lose weight. 

It's all very exciting, and the prospect that this lifestyle change could completely and totally reverse the diabetes, makes me even more psyched up and ready to roll.

On top of the almost miraculous health benefits, is my connecting to my spiritual self in living cruelty-free.

I have been an animal lover my entire life. I always felt that to be such an animal lover as I am, and then to turn around and consume flesh, it was hypocritical on so many levels.  

Even though it upset me, I would "turn my mind" away from the thought of where the meat on my plate originated from. I fooled myself into looking only at the end product and not the life that it once was. But inside, I knew that I was not able to reach the "spiritual" and "connective" heights that I sought to achieve, that I was striving for within, without eliminating animal products from my life and my diet. 

I have long believed that when we ingest anything, we take into ourselves a part of the aura, or energy of that which we eat. When we ingest animals, and the animal has been through trauma and murder, we take into ourselves that same energy. 

For a while, we ate predominantly halal meats whereby the animal is killed according to Islamic law where the Quran teaches compassion and love for the animal. That the animal is to suffer the least amount of pain, is not to be killed in view of other animals, so as not to upset them. A video I saw on an expose of Australian imports to the Middle East during Ramadan and the treatment that was suffered at the hands of these "pious" Muslims, abhorred me. The treatment that the sheep received rendered the meat absolutely non-halal. In fact, such treatment rendered the meat haraam (forbidden). 

Two nights before I made the decision to start going vegan, I heard from a friend of mine who informed me that her husband was in their backyard slaughtering a lamb for a wedding they were going to the next day. She spoke of the screams that were coming from the backyard and the "mess". It not only turned my stomach, it made me weep. I was pretty much done. I expressed to her that it did not seem right that a beautiful and innocent animal should have to die for the pleasure of ones taste buds. 

At first, I thought it would be "difficult" to do, I thought that I was going to have to exercise incredible "restraint" as if I were on a strict diet. I felt that it was going to be like taking a "vow of veganism", something I would have to "work at" every moment of every day for the rest of my life, for my health but most importantly, for the animals. But instead, I found the ease of using the incredible amount of plant-based substitutes that are on the market. I found that removing all animal-products from my diet was incredibly easy. 

Since giving up meat and animal products, I have found a deep-seeded peace that I have never felt before. I feel an awakening on a level I have never thought possible. I feel that my body, my psyche, my very Be-ing has gone through a detox, and I feel amazing.

In every sense of the word, I feel amazing. My health is doing fabulous, I am losing weight, my blood glucose levels have dropped dramatically and I feel fabulous for it. 

Now, when I love my animals, I no longer feel that nagging guilt that would "ping" me inside. I am consumed by the joy of living in complete harmony with all Be-ings, being healthy.

In my research, I also learned the toll that meat producing agriculture has on the environment. 

1) Animal agriculture takes a devastating toll on the earth. It is an inefficient way of producing food, since feed for farm animals requires land, water, fertilizer, and other resources that could otherwise have been used directly for producing human food.

2) Animal agriculture's dependence on higher yields accelerates topsoil erosion on our farmlands, rendering land less productive for crop cultivation, and forcing the conversion of wilderness to grazing and farm lands.

3) Animal waste from massive feedlots and factory farms is a leading cause of pollution in our groundwater and rivers.

4) The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has linked animal agriculture to a number of other environmental problems, including: contamination of aquatic ecosystems, soil, and drinking water by manure, pesticides, and fertilizers; acid rain from ammonia emissions; greenhouse gas production; and depletion of aquifers for irrigation.

5) In a time when population pressures have become an increasing stress on the environment, there are additional arguments for a vegan diet. The United Nations has reported that a vegan diet can feed many more people than an animal-based diet. For instance, projections have estimated that the 1992 food supply could have fed about 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet, 4.2 billion people on a 85% vegetarian diet, or 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet. 

Ever since watching An Inconvenient Truth a few years ago, I have been even more keen and aware of the environment, as well as doing my part in reusing, recycling, using alternative products in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases. I even changed every light bulb in my house to energy efficient ones, which has actually reduced my electric bill each year.

With all of this adding up, is there any reason why I, or anyone else, would not want live a 100% vegan lifestyle? 

And yet, all of these things still did not have me committed 100%. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday, my husband and I watched a movie "Earthlings". (I am posting it here in it's entirety.) After watching this movie, I crossed the fence and I committed 100%. There is no going back. This was the final lick that sealed the envelope on my admitting and "coming out" about being vegan. 

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