Teresa Bergen Author of Vegetarian Asia: A Travel Guide

I recently came across with someone who read my blog and I was surprised when she said that she liked my blog. She said that she's interested to interview me about vegetarianism in the Philippines. I am so honored to answer all her questions and I hope that it could help her in writing her book about vegetarianism in Asia. In return I also did an interview with her. Her answers might help those who also wants to go vegetarian.


Teresa Bergen is a writer living in the US. Back in the '90s, she published a book called Vegetarian Asia: A Travel Guide. She's now updating it for a 2012 edition. Check out her website at www.teresabergen.com


Here's my interview with her:

How long have you been vegetarian/vegan? why did you become vegetarian?

I stopped eating meat about 30 years ago, when I was 12 years old. One night my mother fixed steak for dinner and I pictured a cow minding her own business and somebody slicing a big chunk out of her side. I imagined how painful that would be. If I was a cow, I wouldn’t want to be killed for dinner. Being American, I had access to lots of different types of food. It occurred to me that there were plenty of things to eat besides animals. These days I am mostly vegan, but make exceptions for things like birthday cakes.

Is it difficult to be veg? what makes it difficult?
Not in my usual daily life, where I’m doing the shopping and cooking. Sometimes when I travel, or especially when I go out to dinner with other people or to somebody’s house it can be uncomfortable. I don’t really like to draw attention to myself, and avoid preaching to an unreceptive and uninterested audience.

What changes did you notice in you when you became veg?
Since I was only 12 and the rest of my family was not familiar with meatless diets, I wasn’t sure what to eat. I remember a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes, cookies and ice cream. So I didn’t suddenly become super healthy.

What is the usual reaction of people who just knew you’re veg?
Most of my non-veg friends are kind and go out of their way to make sure there’s something I can eat. But I get a fair share of heckling and derision, mostly from people I don’t know very well. Where I live in Portland, Oregon, there’s kind of a backlash against vegetarians, and especially vegans. People like to make fun of us. It’s annoying. I mean, we’re just trying to do our little part to cut down on the world’s rampant cruelty.

How did you get into animal rights advocacy?
I don’t do much besides write about other people’s efforts. Hopefully that helps raise people’s awareness.

Did you volunteer in any organization?
Not currently. In the past, I’ve mostly volunteered with organizations that benefit people, like teaching yoga to folks in drug rehab and ESL to immigrants and refugees.

Where do you get your food?
I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s, a supermarket that has its own line of generics, with lots of vegetarian and vegan items. It’s cheaper than the health food stores. There's a local farm store down the street, so I try to buy my produce there.

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