Self-taught vegan online food entrepreneur delivers Malaysian dishes without compromising on aesthetics and taste
IN MALAYSIA, you can find a variety of vegan cuisine, but these are mostly Thai or Western dishes or desserts.
Although many vegans have tried to vegetate Malaysian dishes, Aisya Jabaruddin has taken it to the next level by creating her own version of Malaysian vegan cuisine.
Aisya, as she is called, said that going vegan doesn’t mean eating tasteless food.
“When you go vegan, you don’t have to compromise on taste or give up your favorite dish,” said the digital marketer, who is experimenting with vegan cooking and sharing her findings on social media.
The dishes she publishes are based on foods she loved to eat before going vegan six years ago.
Besides Malaysian recipes, she also explored making vegan Thai, Italian and Middle Eastern dishes, including pastries, cakes and bars with mixed nuts.
At a glance, one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between authentic Malaysian dishes with real meat and Aisyah’s vegan creations, as the food is presented in the same style. It takes a very keen eye to tell them apart.
Some of its popular dishes include meatless kebab, Pad Kra Pao, Thai green curry, and its popular vegan rendang. Aisya also takes rendang to a whole new level with her signature Mushroom Rendang.
During MCO in June of last year, Aisya and her husband started an online business, Mushroom Lah (mushroomlah.com), selling her signature Mushroom Rendang, freshly made each day before delivery.
Her vegan rendang looks exactly like any regular meat dish, except that it uses mushrooms instead of meat.
Aisya, who is also a content creator and photographer, with a forestry degree to boot, said her rendering was well received by her clients, which included celebrities and social media influencers.
What made you decide to go vegan?
âI became vegan mainly because of cruelty to animals and the environment. I believe if everyone went vegan we could fight animal cruelty, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save water, forests, animals and more.
What challenges have you encountered on your journey to becoming a vegan?
âIt was hard to explain why I chose this path when I started. Fortunately my family is very understanding [and] after a while i think more people are now aware of veganism. So things are improving.
âI still meet people who think veganism is similar to vegetarianism. Sometimes when I eat out I find dairy or eggs in my food even when the menu is labeled “vegan”.
âBut I’m glad there are plenty of 100% vegan restaurants that I can go to without any worries. My favorites are Sala KL, Sushi Kitchen, Loving Cafe, Pinxin Vegan, PB Kitchen and Hijau KL.
What misconceptions are there about veganism?
âBecoming vegan is expensiveâ is the most common. Vegan food is inexpensive. It’s only when you eat imported vegan products every day that it gets expensive. Malaysia is blessed with so many locally grown produce that can easily be used to cook up a delicious vegan meal. The vegetables, fruits, grains, tofu, and beans are all vegan.
What motivated you to vegetate Malaysian dishes?
âMy goal is to increase awareness of veganism. This is because people still think that vegan only means eating a big bowl of salad or boring tofu. Therefore, the reason why I show all these amazing dishes that can be prepared the vegan way. “
How did the recipe for your Mushroom Rendang come about?
“Especially watching my mom do her rendang, and fixing it here and there to my liking.”
What motivated you to start an online business?
âI started Mushroom Lah because I felt it was difficult to find a vegan rendering that suited my tastes and that was prepared just like my mom would during Hari Raya. So I started with my husband, Akmal. I also want to show people that you don’t need to have chicken or beef rendang to celebrate Raya. We are very grateful that our rendang is loved by many, including non-vegans. “
What challenges have you encountered?
âAt first it was difficult to convince people that our Mushroom Rendang was just as good. But over time I have managed to win many hearts with the rendang and our lovely customers have been very supportive of us throughout the process. So here we are! “
What are your future plans?
âI plan to use my social platform to reach more people with my recipes. And for Mushroom Lah, we’ve just started releasing our Travel Pack which can be shipped throughout Malaysia and hopefully outside Malaysia soon.