Vegan Filipino food? When I first heard about vegan Filipino food almost 9 years ago, I was really skeptical. But the restaurant chain Nick’s thrived for a long time, and during this Pandemic, owner Reina Montenegro has rebranded the Nick’s restaurant line as Chef Reina. In this interview with the Mercury News, she talks about how she became vegan, how she successfully adapted Filipino food, and how she plans to expand her brand.
Montenegro says that she became vegan for health reasons, and given the fatty meaty meals that many Filipinos eat and their generally poor health as a result, and I am not surprised. At home, we drastically changed what we eat when Number One Son and Number Two Son were training for cross country in high school. As a result, we do not eat much Filipino food. Montenegro missed those unhealthy but tasty dishes and created meatless versions of such classics as Tocino. I love Tocino, but definitely not a good thing to eat frequently. A quick search yield a couple of sites dedicated toward Filipino vegan food, and PETA even has a an article on vegan Filipino recipes.
I have tried other Asian cuisines that do traditional dishes using simulations of meat, and I found myself preferring dishes that started out as vegetarian and building on the ingredients rather than trying to imitate something else. I never got around to trying Nick’s, and I don’t know of any Filipino restaurants near me in the South Bay that serve vegan versions. Looking forward to trying her new rebranded line and her retail products when they become more available or whenever the pandemic ends – which ever come first.