I REFER to the Star2 article “It’s the year to veg out” (The Star, Jan 4). Congratulations, that was a good article on the benefits of consuming vegetables.
The “Suku-Suku-Separuh” slogan promoted by the Health Ministry’s Nutrition Division is to be commended as creating awareness and education among all sectors of the food industry on the importance of including vegetables in our daily diet is paramount.
Vegetarians form less than 4% of our population, one of the lowest among the Asian countries.
We certainly need to make vegetables our main meal instead of meat to stay healthy. Otherwise, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity will keep rising, as will the cost of healthcare.
The Nutrition Division of the Health Ministry has been proactive in encouraging Malaysians to eat more vegetables and fruits but their efforts are not reaching the targeted groups, especially the younger generation, effectively.
To this end, the Education Ministry should work with the Health Ministry to implement this healthy eating habit in the canteens of all educational institutions including preschool.
It should also be treated as a matter of urgency because of the growing number of overweight and obese children in schools and to meet the demand of students wanting vegetarian food.
The Malaysian Vegetarian Society (MVS) has highlighted this issue in the media on numerous occasions but we need the Government to give clear directives.
The Health Ministry and PLUS Expressways have set up initiatives to open vegetarian outlets soon along the North-South Expressway as the demand among the travellers is rising.
MVS is a partner in this important alliance.
While we in MVS welcome more people to shift to a plant-based diet for better health, we would also advise them to talk to their nutritionists and/or family physicians so that they would have an expert to guide them.
A good balance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts will ensure that they get the right amount of carbohydrate, protein, oil, vitamins and phytonutrient for their continuous wellbeing.
DR P. VYTHILINGAM
Immediate Past President
Asia-Pacific Vegetarian Union