AMAL MUSES, 28 NOVEMBER 2017
Meat Free Monday
By Amal Ghazali
If you don’t live in a cave, you’ll notice that the past two or three years have seen a sudden boost in the health scene. Everyone and anyone is talking about healthier eating options and lifestyle. The other day I was chatting to an office colleague, a thirty-something female who had been eating consistent amount of cheeseburgers and fries for the past X years (with a waistline to match), and she started talking about chia seeds and ‘superfoods’. This was when I realised that the movement of healthy eating has literally spread itself everywhere.
Perhaps it’s just a trend, but perhaps it’s also the awareness that lifestyle-induced diseases are really on the rise. About two years ago my Father, a self-proclaimed house gardener who managed his own fruit orchard, was diagnosed with hypertension and three blocked arteries. Despite his busy and active lifestyle, it turned out that all the unhealthy meals had begun to take their tolls. Simultaneously, all around me it was evident that office-based work and lack of conscious eating were affecting everyone. Some of my friends, who used to be lean and sinewy, are now overweight and lethargic, and I too was gradually shifting towards that direction.
Realising this, two years ago I decided to commit to a self-promise that I would become a full vegetarian every Monday, a full day dedicated to eating natural, clean food, for the rest of my life. I signed the imaginary oath and here I am, two years later, still fulfilling that promise at least once a day every week, all year round.
“Why on earth would you want to be a goat one day a week?” Asked a perplexed friend.
Plant-Based Food And Their Benefits
Ironically, the idea of having meat-free Mondays really came to me one day when I was watching TV while eating a pepperoni pizza. Jamie Oliver was enthusiastically explaining how we need to eat five portions of vegetables a day as a dietary need. Over my half-chewed pizza, I realised that I had only eaten a few slices of cucumber (from a plate of nasi lemak) for the past three days of my required vegetable supplement.
I began to think about the reasons of why I had subconsciously failed to consume the ideal dietary portion of meals. One, I did not consciously make an effort to prioritise vegetables. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to, without really considering nutrition in the whole equation. Two, vegetables are boring. An image of a vegetable dish will either be a bland salad or even worse, overpriced soups that will make you hungry again in exactly two hours.
However, committing myself to a full day of vegetarianism seems to fix a lot of these issues. For one, I am coerced to plan my meals for that whole day. Planning results in conscious eating, which allows me to really think about what I consume. For instance, there really isn’t a point of a meat-free Monday if you end up eating a pile of French fries. Consciously devoting a whole day to plant-based food also makes the whole thing more exciting – I find myself going through online recipes of a variety of healthy vegetarian options (that’s not salad, thank you very much), and making tasty packed lunches which, let’s be honest, makes it easier on the wallet.
Much to my perplexed friend’s amazement, I did not at all have to be a goat one day a week, munching on nothing but raw leaves and green juices all day long.
Tips To Kickstart Your Meat-Free Day
It has been two years and I have absolutely no regrets about having Meat-Free Mondays. It’s hard to begin, but once you have the momentum you’ll find that it’s rather effortless to maintain.
To start, entice yourself by doing a bit of research. You’ll find so many resources that explain the benefits of going vegetarian, even on how it affects the environment! Delve into so many appetizing recipes online that prove vegetables don’t have to be boring. I’m talking beautiful vegetable curries, tarts, roasts, stir-fries, and yes, even healthy pizzas. They will keep you from missing meat, and more importantly make the whole vegetarian premise more exciting. I started off with recipes from deliciouslyella.com, but there are hundreds more of these online.
Secondly, go easy. If there’s an office potluck this Monday, you can always be flexible. Replace the meat-free day on other days, as long as you commit yourself to actually substitute the day. Otherwise, it will be like that time you tell yourself you’ll clean your closet – you postpone it again and again, and eventually it never happens.
Lastly, remind yourself constantly why you’re doing it. I want to travel and do all sorts of fun physical activities even when I am fifty, and this keeps me motivated to look after myself better. Some people are more prone to hereditary illnesses (as do I), and this should drive us to keep tabs on our lifestyles as well.
Whatever it is, there is something for everyone when we make conscious efforts in eating right, especially in tackling vegetable consumptions which seems to be a challenge to a lot of people. Hopefully through initiatives such as meat-free Mondays, we can all encourage ourselves to be healthier, and hopefully still be able to try skateboarding when we’re fifty.
AMAL MUSES, 14 NOVEMBER 2017
It's real, guys.
Read the whole article below.
Looking Past The 'Happily Ever After' Dream
By Amal Ghazali
There are three main things that I realised are real as I approached the age of thirty – permanent eye bags, the fact that nobody really knows exactly how taxes work, and divorce.
Yes, divorce is real guys. And it’s not just something you see happening a lot on E! News. It’s one of those occurrences that you don’t think will ever happen to yourself or your loved ones when you were younger, and now you realise it can actually happen to anyone.
It was just a usual day at my office when I heard the news that a couple I knew, both of whom were my friends, were filing for divorce after four years of marriage. The idea of divorcing wasn’t exactly a shock to me anymore by then. I am in the stage of my life where most of my friends have been married for a few years, and this means that the honeymoon phase has passed and the whole candied idea of marriage being a field of flowers filled with rainbows and passions askew are now shattered by the truth – that relationships are hard work and is not always easy.
The emergence of this truth affected people I knew in many ways. Some grew stronger, while the rest, unfortunately, dissolved into painful separations. Financial hiccups, baby vomit, loss of affection, his-pants-are-always-on-the-floor, a third person – I began to learn that there are so many reasons why marriages end up in flames.
But when I heard about this specific couple calling it quits, I was flabbergasted. I travelled with them once and from what I could tell they were fun, kind and happy people. Wasn’t that enough?
The Myth And Truth About Divorce
This is the part where I first and foremost tell you that my wisdom on marriages is about the size of a green pea. I have never been married and I would not claim to have a first-hand idea of what life is like on that other side. What I can narrate to you is what I have learned from neutral observations, and how my views on it have changed from my early twenties to current time.
I came from a relatively stable background and divorce was almost unheard of within my extended family or friends. I learned a lot about them through watching Western TV, where separations always seem to occur on the characters that deserve it. I’m talking abusive husbands, the mafia, people having affairs galore or any other of those extreme reasons. It seemed like a foreign concept, a different world if you will, that I couldn’t relate to at all. My naivety at the time also assured me that divorce would only happen to bad people. Normal, regular people like us? We’ll find someone, fall in love and be happy forever. Right?
Feeling distressed about the news I’ve just heard, I talked to a colleague to try and resolve my confusion over it all. I mean, if even good people don’t stand a chance, aren’t we all doomed? As a girl yet to step into the world of marital union, all of these news of people getting divorced or even people complaining that they are in unhappy relationships spooked me. I want the chase-you-at-the-airport happiness I see in movies! I don’t want to hear stories about you leaving your wife for a younger model because she ‘let herself go’, sir.
As we discussed it through, my married colleague and I concluded that marriage, like a lot of other things in life, doesn’t always surpass our expectations on how we want them to be, especially if these expectations were designed by our younger, less-wise selves. Some people work so hard to keep their marriage together but to no avail. Some people had known each other for years before tying the knot, but only lasted a while in the union. Some people get married without knowing each other at all, and theirs last a lifetime. Some people fall apart and then fall back together.
Be A Positive Drive
Like life itself, each relationship is different, and therefore what works and what doesn’t is unique in their own special ways. Unfortunately, as a society I would easily note that we are sometimes harsh and judgemental towards people going through these difficult times. It is true that the breakup of a family isn’t something we should normalise or encourage, but it is also true that some of us prefer the sizzling gossips and surficial judgement rather than lending a helping hand or providing the right support. Like my friends who were going their separate ways, it was easy to establish the difference between the group who was just there to join the back talks and the group who was genuinely concerned about them coping through as peacefully as possible.
I suppose that in the end, divorce truly is real and a harsh reality at that. We take risks in life, including risks in loving others, and sometimes despite our hopes they end up in the sad end of the stick. Part of growing up for me is learning that essentially, we all want to be happy, and through the process of discovering new things and making mistakes, some bumps along the road of relationships are bound to happen. However, what we can always do as a community is channel productive support to our loved ones who are going through these painful dissolutions, and abstain from indulging in abrasive judgment and taboo generalisation. Hopefully, we can all make a good difference in each other’s lives and eventually assist in harnessing better, more positive relationships.