plant-based food

Try plant-based ‘lechon kawali’ from this Quezon City vegan biz

Steph Arnaldo

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Try plant-based ‘lechon kawali’ from this Quezon City vegan biz
This guilt-free, vegan version of crispy pork belly is just as good as the real thing – or maybe even better!

MANILA, Philippines – Most of us are at that age where deep-fried pork belly – also known as lechon kawali – doesn’t sit as well with our aging bodies as much as they used to. If a craving calls, luckily, local vegan business The Good Choices (TGC) offers a meat-free version that’s not as sinful but just as tasty and satisfying.

TGC makes from scratch vegan pork belly, a plant-based take on the Filipino fatty favorite, as well as other plant-based meat alternatives.

Meat your meatless match

TGC’s plant-based lechon kawali scarily looks just like the real thing – golden brown and super crispy, with the “skin,” meat fibers, and litid (fat). Bite into it and you’ll get that immediate crunch, followed by a substantial “meatiness” and chewiness. It’s still sinfully deep-fried, but not as oily, heavy, nor greasy (and it’s cholesterol-free).

The savory flavors are on point, and it pairs really well with toyomansi, spiced vinegar, or lechon sauce. You can have it with rice or even as a snack or pulutan, since it can get that addictive.

“You won’t believe it’s not meat!” TGC’s tagline says – and this rings true. It’s fit for a plant-based feast!

The vegan pork belly is sold frozen and ready to cook in 250-gram packs for P380. The versatile substitute is easy to prepare at home, and can be used in place of pork for most vegetarian recipes. How you cook it depends on you – TGC recommends to cook the pork belly “lechon kawali-style” by seasoning it with salt and pepper and frying it in oil until golden brown and crispy.

You can also grill the pork belly to make vegan inihaw na liempo or use it in other Filipino recipes like adobo, menudo, or binagoongan.

“We just prepared our favorite liempo marinade and grilled the pork belly the same way as you would with meat,” TGC told Rappler. This was equally tasty as well, just chewier, softer, and saucier, thanks to its sweet-savory marinade.

TGC’s plant-based products are made from a combination of soy and wheat protein and other plant-sourced ingredients like cassava starch, vegetable oil, carrots, beets, and black beans. No chemical additives or preservatives are used, which is why all products’ shelf-life is only up to six months.

“We cook our products in big batches and package them in vacuum bags. As for more ‘technical’ products like our pork belly, bacon, and ham, these products are hand-made and even manually formed and sliced,” TGC said.

Plant-based products like these are a godsend for vegans and vegetarians. However, some meat-eaters question vegans over the “irony” of enjoying these alternatives that are made to look “just like meat.”

“Most people can’t wrap their head around the concept of making plant-based food look and taste like meat. My reason for doing this is simple – every person has his or her own journey. Some people can shift to a plant-based diet in a snap and that’s well and good for them. But there are others who struggle especially in the first three months of transitioning because this is when most of the cravings come,” TGC said.

“Imagine a scenario where you are the only person eating plant-based in your household. They will be having the usual silog or bacon for breakfast while you’re there with a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. You start feeling deprived and before you know it, you’re in the ref reaching out for your favorite meat dish. We created The Good Choices to help people transition to a plant-based diet. We don’t claim that our products are the healthiest option but we believe that our products serve their purpose,” TGC added.

TGC started out in the owner’s family kitchen in 2016, alongside her mother’s own vegan business The Vegetarian Kitchen, which sells a mean plant-based Pinoy BBQ and vegan fruitcake.

The Good Choices is located along Matatag Street, Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City. You can order via Facebook or through its reseller partners: The Vegan Grocer, Vegan Treats Manila, and Blues and Greens Refillery. – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.