In a world becoming increasingly technology-driven, finding resources to support a change in lifestyle is easier than ever. I referred to just a couple of plant-based apps when I got my first smartphone in 2012 – the first year of me going vegetarian – and I would have only dreamed of being spoiled for choice in the variety of apps available today to aid me in my food journey.
Here are some apps to get you motivated on your own journey. Prices mentioned where applicable.
If you’re stumped on how to start eating right without relying on meat and animal by-products, this app created by renowned physician Dr. Michael Greger will set you off in the right direction. Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen is a list of 11 food items that you should try and incorporate into your meals every day, plus one type of exercise. What I particularly like about this app is that it is open-ended about your intake. There’s no pressure in counting grams or calories; just a tick to show yourself that you’ve eaten something. Specific examples of each item are a quick tap away, and with an internet connection you also get access to informational, easy-to-digest videos on Greger’s website, NutritionFacts.org. On a separate note, I personally hold Dr. Greger in high regard as a health advocate, and have been told that his New York Times Bestseller,“How Not To Die”, is a real game-changer.
HappyCow shows you where you can find F&B establishments that offer vegan, vegetarian or simply healthy options. But HappyCow is not just a directory; it’s a community-driven institution that has been helping herbivores on a global scale since 1999. Passionate diners become HappyCow Ambassadors to maintain and improve public listings for the cities where they live, making it one of the most trusted and comprehensive directories in the world. The website is free to use, but the app with a one-off purchase is a must-have if you are travelling. You can narrow down searches to specific requirements like ‘Raw’ and ‘Gluten-Free’, read reviews, get contact details of restaurants and cafes, and create go-to lists offline for easy reference on the move.
If you’re becoming more mindful of your meat intake for environmental reasons, the Zero Waste App will greatly complement this. It is a map-based app, showing you places whose services supplement your minimal or zero-waste lifestyle, like farmer’s markets, no-package stores (bring your own container!) recycling centres and second-hand stores. As a plant-based eater, a lot of your food can be bought as dry food items from no-package stores, like nuts, grains, flours, noodles, spices, cooking oils and dried fruits. Stocking up from these places is naturally cheaper by up to 20 percent, because you’re not paying for packaging, design or fancy marketing campaigns – just a product for what it is in your hands. Like HappyCow, this app comes in handy when you are travelling.
A local community called Zero Waste Malaysia has collaborated with the developer of the Zero Waste App to introduce a nationwide zero waste map for us Malaysians. It is available on the app, but probably more extensive and updated when viewed in Google Maps. Accessing it this way is free, and also the way to go for Android users.
Here’s a link showing you how. Thank you Aurora Tin for the info!
If you live in Malaysia and the idea of going vegan (i.e. opting to not eat meat AND animal by-products e.g. egg, milk and honey) is too extreme for now, or you’re in the process of eating less meat and being curious about vegetarian food, or simply want to watch your spending while eating out, let me introduce you to Kindmeal. This homegrown app can search for F&B spots near your current location, offering discounts or promo prices for meatless options. With an easy on-the-spot coupon activation, you’re ready to enjoy a wholesome meal AND save money too! There are indicator icons to show if a cafe serves egg, milk and/or alcohol. Good to note also that not all restaurants are fully vegetarian establishments.
Considering the fact that I was a vegetarian for 4 years before going vegan, I appreciate apps like this that still recognize the midway / transitioning point between eating meat, and not eating anything animal-related at all.
If you’re planning to take the leap and and immerse yourself fully into a plant-based diet, here’s an app to keep you motivated on a 21-day commitment. Why 21? It’s common belief that that is how long it takes to break a habit. The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart provides you with simple, nutritious meal plans, recipe ideas and tips to guide you on a day-by-day basis, and gives you space to be creative with your meals too. And of course, if the diet change works out well for you, there’s nothing stopping you from going at it for longer than 21 days! This app is an initiative by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, whose website is one of my recommended sources of news and information on all things health.
Alternatively, you can sign up for this programme online for free; similar to the Zero Waste App, this option is ideal for Android users.
If you’re intending to document your plant-based journey on social media, Foodie seems to be an interesting app to take your food pictures to the next level. The photo filters are food-specific, with categories like Crispy, Fresh, Sweet and even Picnic. And there is the top-down cue function: the snap button turns yellow, once it detects your camera in focus while hovering directly above your food, to let you know that it’s a good time to take the shot. Apparently a very good app for selfies too!