Society & Culture

Muslims Who Fast: Lina, from the Maldives, celebrates her first Ramadan as a vegan

(Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

Welcome to Muslims Who Fast, a special Ramadan series looking at the lives of Muslims and how they spend their iftars – the meal they break their fasts with.

If you’re not aware, Ramadan is the month-long period where Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during daylight hours. Yes, even water.

This week, Lina, a Singapore-Chinese Muslim woman from the Maldives, talks to Metro.co.uk about her iftar, which is unlike most other fast-breaking meals – hers is all vegan.

She is the founder of plant-based food company Enter Eden which is launching a powdered vegan mylk – the term used for dairy alternatives.

This is what she’s having for iftar:

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Some roasted cauliflower heads (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Mixed vegetable pasta (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

A lentil shepherd’s pie and some refreshing watermelon (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

(Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Some good old homemade hummus (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

So, when did you become vegan, and why?

I became strictly vegan about six months ago, for the animals. Prior to that, I followed a plant-based diet mainly because of sustainability.

It was also because of the horrors of the meat/dairy/egg industry and ‘halal’ slaughter.

What’s difficult about being a vegan Muslim?

The hardest part was initially missing out on cheese, but the amazing options available have actually made it a lot easier! Going vegan has actually been really exciting because it means that I have to be more creative in the kitchen!

The hardest part about being a vegan Muslim is that you get people telling you that you should eat meat because God made it permissible to do so.

I am very lucky, however, that my parents are very understanding and support my choices. I also wish that I had more vegan friends of faith – it would be cool to share our experiences and get a support network going.

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

And here’s Lina doing her best to cook and pose (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

What do you normally eat for iftar?

Coming from a multicultural background, I grew up with a wide variety of dishes being served at home. This experience fostered my love for cooking and experimentation in the kitchen. Staples include things like stir-fry, curries, salads, and pasta.

I go through phases with food – last Ramadan, I became obsessed with Middle Eastern food and made hummus, roasted cauliflower heads, and baba ganoush for almost every iftar!

There’s been more variety this year – I’ve made lentil shepherd’s pies, vermicelli, soups, pasta, and seitan burgers

Are there any special traditions/rituals that are popular in your household?

We break our fasts with dates, refreshing watermelon slices, and lots of water. The fact that water tastes sweet after a long day of fasting never gets old.

In Singapore, we would go together for Taraweeh prayers as a family and go to bed and wake up for suhour (pre-dawn meal).

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Some friends – who may or may not have been fasting – joined in on the iftar (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Lina’s sister also helped prepare the fast-breaking meal (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

The two of them live together in their Farringdon flat (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

What does Ramadan mean to you?

Ramadan is a very special time of the year for me, and Muslims around the world, because the Qur’an was revealed during this month. For me, it is a time of reflection, extra prayer, charity, and above all, gratitude.

As cliché as it sounds, going without food or drink from dawn to sunset never fails to make me appreciate the fact that this is a daily reality for many people around the world, and makes me grateful for what I have been blessed with.

What’s your best Ramadan memory?

My favourite place to be in the world during Ramadan is home in the Maldives, on the tiny island capital of Malé.

It’s extremely chaotic, but five times a day, and especially during the month of Ramadan, everything slows down during the call to prayer known as the adhan. You can hear it echoing throughout the city as every mosque’s muezzin calls out, to drop what everyone is doing and come and pray. It’s an extremely moving and surreal scene.

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Ah, some lemon juice to wash it all down (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Do you know any good Ramadan jokes?

Haha, the classic one is how everyone always asks ‘not even water’?

What’s it like fasting and working?

It’s tough, especially during the first week, but it gets easier. It has been more challenging recently because of the warm weather, but isn’t something that I can complain about as it’s extremely rewarding.

When did you begin fasting?

When I was six or seven; my mum eased my sister and I into it with half day fasts.

I remember our parents being very proud of us for completing our first proper fasts. That sense of happiness I had from fulfilling an obligation that every Muslim is called to do, I still feel that sense of peace and satisfaction with the completion of every fast, and it is a time of year that I look forward to.

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

(Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Everyone admires the food (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Shots for Faima feature on vegan muslims breaking fast during Ramadan.

Ah, someone’s got to tidy it all up at the end (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

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