Would vegetarian stomachs turn if they were treated to a vegan 'raw blood soup,' whose recipe has recently been shared online and upset many meat-free enthusiasts in Vietnam?
While it is not uncommon for vegetarian dishes in Vietnam to be named as if they were 'meaty' foods, the vegan blood soup appears to cross the line, at least according to some diehard vegetarians.
Raw blood soup, or tiet canh in Vietnamese, is a dish made with the raw blood of ducks, geese, or pigs, with peanuts and herbs on top. The dish is usually served alongside traditional Vietnamese alcohol.
A local vegan food maker has recently introduced the recipe to make raw blood soup for vegetarians, but some meat-free enthusiasts believe that it is inappropriate to make such a dish.
“Eating veggie foods is to seek a healthy soul or mind, something you cannot do with a food associated with blood,” a reader wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday.
A bowl of vegan 'raw blood soup'
According to the viral recipe, beetroot is used to make the red broth, replicating ‘blood’ in the soup, whereas other ingredients include white onions, vegan gizzards and chicken soup powder.
“If you opt for a meatless diet, why not eat simple, pure foods like tofu and vegetables? Why do people have to try to make vegan dishes that replicate meat-made foods? Does it mean that we are not really into eating vegan?” the reader asked.
The post has provoked mixed responses from other Tuoi Tre readers.
Some agreed that meat-free dishes should not be named in a similar way to ‘non-veggie' foods, as it tends to affect the nature of eating vegan.
Other supporters, most of whom are Buddhist followers, cited religious belief to say vegans who eat such dishes will never have a peaceful mind.
But it appears to be the religious matter that divides opinions in the debate.
Those opposing the vegan raw blood soup might have forgotten that there are people who adopt a vegetarian diet to stay healthy instead of practicing a religion.
“And then there are those who do not eat meat to save animals from being killed for food, and those non-vegetarians who want to seek new tastes for their daily meals,” said a reader named Quang.
“Making vegan blood soup is not an issue; it is everyone’s choice.”
Many others agreed, saying not only Buddhist followers eat vegan.
“Vegan foods named after meaty dishes may upset those with a religious belief, but it’s OK for those who eat meatless for purely health reasons,” they said.
A dish of vegan 'roasted duck'
In Vietnam, menus at vegan restaurants can be full of such dishes as grilled pork and roasted chicken. Many of the popular Vietnamese dishes, such as pho (rice noodle soup with beef) or com tam (broken rice and grilled pork) all have vegan equivalents.
Some Buddhist monks explain in their teaching that such a way of naming is meant to help newcomers get used to eating vegan food, as it is not really easy to switch from a meat diet to non-meat regime immediately.
Once they are familiar with vegetarian food, they will certainly know how to choose the appropriate vegan food to eat, according to the monks.