There are a few things I wouldn’t be able to achieve in my lifetime – one of them is being a vegan. Don’t get me wrong. I still love veggies, but skipping Sisig and Lechon is a different story. Vegans are very admirable, not only for their usual toned physique, but also because they show intense discipline. This is doubly challenging if you are residing in Cebu.

How could you ever resist all the delicious pork and beef meals?  Here’s what the Vegan guy, Firas, has to say.

Firas Baassiri is a Turkish national who briefly lived in Japan before moving to Cebu. He fell in love with the city and decided to stay. You can catch him in the Banilad Town Centre Saturday Market. He has a stall of healthy and heavenly vegan burgers (Vegan’s Guild).

Firas Baassiri 2032:  What prompted you to be a vegan?

F: I became a Vegan when I was 6.5 years old. That was when I started getting sick whenever I would eat meat.  Most meaty foods in Turkey use fats and butter.  In 2006, I added fish to my lifestyle, but I still can’t eat cheese or dairy products.  I added the fish to be able to reach my daily calorie intake, but now I am Vegan again. In case of future problems, I know how to get my daily calorie intake from veggies only!

Editor’s note: There’s a difference between Vegan and Vegetarian.

032: How is it like living with Cebuanos when most of us are meat lovers?

F: It was very hard on the first year. All my friends ate Lechon and they used to laugh at me and even felt bad that I was only eating veggies. For the past year, I can see that Cebu is starting to change when it comes to the food quality. People are becoming more aware of healthy eating. It’s been easy to get all the organic local veggies and I sometimes order a year of supply for myself from other countries if it’s not found here. I usually don’t eat outside since most of the restaurant that serves veggies are oily or with some kind of meat, chicken or seafoods. I believe that if you get used to it, it’s not hard to be a Vegan here in Cebu because of the abundance of fruits and vegetables.

032: What is your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner like?

F: For breakfast: Water, organic cereal, almond milk or hemp milk; I eat around 5 bananas also and some frozen berries.

For lunch: I eat vegan burgers, salads, steamed veggies and vegan dressings, fruits and pitted dates and a banana, Sometimes black rice salad or quinoa salad depending on what I cook and what was my workout during the day

For dinner: Salads and vegan dressings, green smoothies, avocado salads or shakes, vegan cheesecake or other available desserts.

That’s only a sample of what I eat, sometimes I make for myself pizza topped with homemade almond cheese.

Vegan Burger032: We know that you have a stall of Vegan burgers in BTC. How did you come up with the idea of the Vegan burger?

F: The idea of the vegan burger came from a Turkish dish Mercimek Köftesi. It is one of my favorite dishes. It is made of Bulgur and Lentils with homemade Tomato paste. Mix them all together with spices & herbs and then serve on a piece of lettuce with a squeeze of fresh lemon. I always had this dish on my mind. When I was in Japan, I tried a mix of Tofu lentil burgers.  I decided to make the burger, but influenced and flavoured with the spices that are used in Turkish meat dishes. It worked! I made it healthier so I served it in multigrain bread that has no yeast, sugar or butter; it has a little bit of kosher salt and virgin coconut oil and flax seeds.

032: There is a perception that eating healthy means eating something pricey. How’s the price? 

F: We have variety of Vegan burgers and our selling price starts from 100 Php.  We also have more dishes, shakes & smoothies, dinner replacement shakes, salads, soup and deserts

032: Any plans of opening a restaurant?

F: Yes. I’m planning on opening a restaurant, but finding a good location is still a challenge. Hopefully, we’ll find one soon.

032: Cite three reasons why it’s worth a try to be a Vegan?

F: Better sports performance!  Greater energy!  Healthier body and life!

Check out Vegan’s Guild in BTC and like them on Facebook.

*Photos from Firas Baassiri.

Firas Baassiri Vegan burger 2 Firas in BTC

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