one who travels indefinitely, with no long-term abode, while avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and abuse as far as is possible and practicable
early 21st century; from vegan - ‘a person who does not eat or use animal products’, and nomad - ‘a person who does not stay long in the same place’
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Interviews with Vegan Veterans #5: Albert Mah - The Bright Side of Humanity
9 min read
Interviews with Vegan Veterans is an ongoing interview series where I get to pick the brains of long-time vegans and give the world access to the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that they have spent decades accumulating.
Sitting calmly in the crossroads of veganism and Buddhism is a long-time vegan and animal-rights activist with an outlook we could all afford to learn something from.
In this concise but powerful interview Albert shares with us his thoughts on meat-eating Buddhists, the details of the science-based vegan diet fuelling both himself and his dog, his wide array of different styles of activism and other nuggets wisdom that only a dedicated long-time vegan could share.
Albert Mah, I was born in 1950 in Malaysia. In 1982 I visited Perth for a holiday and liked the climate and the slower pace of life compared to bigger cities. Fortunately, I found a job as a petroleum geologist and decided to migrate immediately and have been living here since. I've been vegan since late 2008, prior to that was vegetarian from 2002.
Yes, when I turned vegan I decided it was for life.
My switch over to vegetarian was immediate and so too was my subsequent switch to vegan. I did my homework before switching by reading nutrition information from plant-based and vegan physicians and dieticians which is readily available nowadays on the internet.
Commitment to the animal cause and a lifestyle that maintains good physical and mental health. I exercise by taking my dog for walks twice a day, practice mindfulness meditation, get good uninterrupted sleep and have a supportive circle of friends and neighbours. I also cycle and am active outdoors. I pace myself in what I do so that I don't burn out.
I adopted a greyhound rescued from the racing industry four years ago. He is seven now and he eats VeganPet and V-Dog food, both of which are vegan. He also eats home-cooked vegetables and selected fruits such as bananas, apples and pears (seeds removed). His health is excellent.
A sudden change of diet can make the body react adversely with withdrawal symptoms just like a drug addict going cold turkey feels like dying. Change should be phased in over days and weeks. I have never got sick from my whole food plant-based diet without added oil, salt and sugar.
I prefer to prepare my meals so that I know what goes into them and mostly eat at home. I cook mostly whole foods such as brown rice and fresh vegetables.
I like a warm lunch and dinner. I eat fruits raw only and don't like cooked fruits. I'm not into juicing or blending. I avoid desserts, cakes, chocolates, biscuits, potato chips and lollies as main meals should suffice. Sometimes I snack on nuts. No gluten intolerance.
I'm starch-based and don't use any oil, salt or sugar in my cooking. That also means I don't fry my food and avoid junk food. Eat clean and live clean.
I have 2 main meals consisting of brown rice or wheat noodles plus green leafy vegetables cooked with tofu, carrots, tomatoes. Sometimes I steam broccoli in addition.
During the day I'll snack on fruits in season which can be apples, pears, oranges, mandarins, grapes, stone fruits, mangoes, persimmons etc. I eat breakfast only if I'm hungry which is wholegrain bread with peanut butter or cereal with plant milk. I might eat some nuts as a snack.
I drink plain green tea throughout the day. I don't drink soft drinks, alcohol or smoke. I have been eating like this regularly for years.
The only vitamin supplement I take is B12, one 1000 mcg tablet twice a week. I add ground flax seed and nutritional yeast to my food daily.
Yes, since 2000. At first I learned and practiced the Theravada teachings and then after about 6 years I learned and practiced the Tibetan teachings. Having practiced both, I decided to take the best of both and be non-denominational and just practice and call myself a Buddhist.
The core teachings of the Buddha are all the same among the different schools of Buddhism. All the major religions spread out through different geographical areas inhabited by people of different cultures and it's inevitable that variations will develop. So rather than looking for differences we should look at the similarities, which outnumber the differences. What is more important is whether we are practicing selfishly to benefit just ourselves or practice selflessly to benefit all beings including ourselves.
Buddhism emphasises kindness, compassion, altruism and universal love for all living beings. It also asks us not to kill, harm or cause suffering, to respect all life and not to take what does not belong to us. We have to understand that killing is the stealing of life. If we practice Buddhism with sincerity and develop all these virtues then they logically lead us to live a vegan lifestyle.
In the vegan community, I'm committed to vegan outreach such as regular participation in the Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube of Truth events and university open days. I also attend public protests, direct actions and slaughterhouse vigils. I support animal sanctuaries, animal charities and am a member of the Animal Justice Party. I give meditation and mindfulness sessions at The Peace Tree to mainly vegans, but is open to all. Here we learn how to deal with negative emotions and stress.
Probably both in roughly equal measure. I was a Buddhist first before turning vegetarian and then subsequently vegan. The Buddhist teachings on compassion and universal love were the catalysts for change.
Buddhism encourages critical investigation with an open mind to identify those truths that lead to the benefit and happiness of all living beings. So by allowing the mind to be fully open and amenable to change and to consider all issues from as many viewpoints and angles as possible, plus with kindness and compassion, one can easily make the connection with living a vegan Buddhist way of life.
Being accepted. We are not understood. Currently we are a small minority and face the weight and power of the non-vegan majority in our daily lives. We have to live with the oppression, discrimination and contempt.
My favourite is the Cube of Truth by Anonymous for the Voiceless. At Cubes we get to meet people face to face, engage with them, hear the emotion of words, see facial expressions and body language. This kind of engagement enables us to see the effectiveness of our outreach and we know immediately whether we are effective with that particular person or persons. Emails, phone messages and social media cannot show us facial and body expressions nor the nuances and emotions of speech.