It’s not easy being green. If you’ve ever tried going vegetarian or vegan in Malta you’ll know the struggle. Between our national obsession with cheese, and a social stigma attached to the lifestyle, vegans get a lot of shit.
But if you are thinking of taking a step into world of veganism, here’s a few tips to help you survive the island known for fixing every problem by dipping it in bacon fat.
1. Start Slow
It’s tempting to jump off the deep-end and go full-vegan all at once, which some people can do with no problem. But if it’s your first time doing such a massive shift in your diet, take it slow, start cutting out meat products one by one and see how you feel.
Spend two days a week being vegan to practice before moving to the full show. Nobody is gonna call the vegan police on you cos you’re taking your time getting into it.
2. Going out? Good luck
There are very few places in Malta that cater to veganism exclusively; most places have one or two options. However you can ask most restaurants to replace a couple of ingredients to veganize them or call ahead and explain your diet so they have time to prepare something for you.
But honestly, it’s just a lot less hassle to eat in. If you’re really desperate to get out of the house though, Vegan Malta has created a map with all the vegan restaurants in the country.
3. And on that note, learn to cook
Seriously. It’s so much cheaper and more reliable. We have a wealth of home-grown vegetables and fruit you can choose from, so hit up the veg guy when he comes around and grab a few vegan cookbooks. You can even keep things in the Maltese spirit with stuff like Qarabaghli Mimli, with diced veg instead of mincemeat. Bigilla, bruschetta and pasta aglio e olio are all great local options as well.
4. Plan ahead
You’ll be wanting to prep a lot of your meals from beforehand. Make a lot of lunchboxes, and carry some food around with you wherever you go. If you’ve got a full time job and kids you don’t want to be caught with nothing to eat for yourself, so spend a little time cooking and preparing every day so you’re never stuck without food.
5. Take your damn B12
Something every vegan we spoke insisted was to make sure you’re getting enough b12. A vegan diet can be extremely low in b12 if you’re not careful, and a deficiency can lead to anemia and nerve damage. Buy supplements, eat the right foods, and keep an eye out for deficiency symptoms.
6. Thicken your skin
Maltese people have a weird relationships with vegans. You’re going to get a LOT of stupid questions at pretty much every opportunity, usually about ”But what if you had to eat meat to survive” or ”BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN??”.
Brush up on your nutritional science and get ready to have to explain to yourself at every barbeque, family gathering and dinner party.
7. Make vegan friends
Starting any new phase of your life is easier with people going through the same thing. Talk to other people who are vegan, learn from them and apply it to your own life. There are plenty of online forums and pages filled with people waiting to help you out.
And with the lifestyle growing in popularity locally, you’re bound to find someone to share recipes with and bond over being kicked out of Christmas dinner for refusing to eat Nanna’s roast chicken