Vegan bryndzové halušky? Familiar dishes are attractive when changing to plant-based food

Marian Milec explains why he decided to teach Slovaks to eat plant-based food.

Marian Milec, program coordinatorMarian Milec, program coordinator (Source: NHF)

Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rastlinná Výzva or the Plant Challenge offers a set of recipes for a monthly menu. Dishes vary – some can find couscous recipes, salads and baked yeast dumpling but also spaghetti Bolognese and vegan bryndzové halušky.

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The Slovak Spectator talked with program coordinator Marian Milec, 29, about the challenges linked with changing eating habits toward plant-based food and how eating out looks like in Slovakia's restaurants.

The Slovak Spectator: Are you a vegan?

Marian Milec (MM): I eat plant-based food.

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TSS: Isn’t it the same?

MM: It is very similar, but when someone says he or she is a vegan it comes with various meanings in my experience. Every person has their own interpretation and my version means that I eat plant-based food because I help the environment with this.

TSS: Does the word ‘vegan’ have a negative connotation in Slovakia?

MM: I think these people are not in the majority, but some would still say that it is some kind of ideology and they do not understand the reasons behind it.

TSS: Was the environment and the planet the main reason why you have decided to eat only plant-based food?

MM: There were several reasons. My diet was very classic my whole life, so I ate everything – meat, milk, eggs. Wiener schnitzel used to be my favourite meal. But about seven years ago, I found an online lecture, where it said how animal production impacts various fields, the environment among them. I think many people do not know about it, I was also one of them who did not know. I was so shocked and I decided I don’t want to support it.

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I had an inner conflict. I didn’t want to support anything that destroys our planet or contributes to global warming, but as I used to eat ordinary food my whole life I did not know what to eat and what to cook. So I learnt slowly, browsing the internet for some tips and recipes.

This is the advantage of Plant Challenge, that we help people who are going through a similar development as I did. To make the transformation as easy as possible. It is the crash course I needed at that time. I would spare myself from many weirdly-cooked dishes.

TSS: Were you able to perform the change from one day to another or did you take it gradually?

MM: In my case, it was a really sharp change. However, there were two things: at that time, I was living in dormitories and I had a jar of Nutella opened. I was eating it very rarely but I decided not to throw it away, so I finished it. And I also told myself that I would allow myself to eat at least fish, but it was not necessary, I did not really feel the need to eat it.

TSS: What about special occasions like Christmas, for example, when you have a set menu of what you will eat and it is clearly not vegan? Did you resist?

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