Meet Chris Zaslawski

Chris Zaslawski is an Associate Professor at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and a researcher, based in Sydney. Chris leads the Chinese Medicine team – a teaching and research unit in UTS.  Chris is also the Deputy Editor for the Australian Journal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, the International Editorial Board member for Acupuncture Research published in Beijing, and the Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science published in Germany. 

What is your reason for choosing vego?  

I read a book – The China Study, which outlined the health benefits of forgoing animal products (meat, fish, eggs and dairy).  I started off as a vegan but now occasionally eat egg, yoghurt and cheese.  

When did you start going vego?

I originally became a vego back in 2010 for health reasons. Since then I have also become aware of additional ethical, environmental and spiritual reasons for being a vego. I also became interested in Buddhism at about the same time and vegetarianism fits in well with this.

What were your challenges?

There were minimal challenges as I found there were lots of alternatives to meat both at home and socialising. I also do a lot of travelling in Asia and this has not posed too many difficulties in selecting foods. Now all my friends know I don’t eat meat and accommodate for me when socialising with them or going to restaurants.

How did you overcome them?

I found that I did not have any meat cravings when I gave up meat. This continues to this day. I do not miss meat in the least. I can always find enough interesting and satisfying food alternatives to eat.  Occasionally when I am at a banquet where meat is the main food, I always find sufficient vegetables and rice or noodles.

How did you convince your spouse/family?

They didn’t need any convincing and were quite accepting. My wife is also a vego 90% of the time while my son and daughter continue to eat meat.

What do you think are some misconceptions about vego?

Non-vegos often feel sorry for us vego, that we are missing out on something. I tell them I have absolutely no misgiving about not eating meat and that I am extremely happy being a vego.

What do you do when you are eating with a group of meat eaters?

Nothing really. They have to decide what they want to eat and I don’t criticize or speak to them about their food choices. If they ask me, I point out what I consider are the benefits of being a vego (health, ethical and environmental).

What would you say to a newbie vego?

Good on you! I would tell them it is not difficult and to persevere if they are having meat cravings

What’s your favourite vego related books/ movies/ documentary?  Any highlights? 

The book, "The China Study" was instrumental to me in becoming a vego. I am also currently reading a great book titled "How Not To Die", which outlines the health benefits of certain vegetables and fruits, whole food eating! It is backed up by strong science and is referenced heavily (there are over 80 pages of references at the rear of the book!). 

My favourite movies are "Forks over Knives" and more recently "What the Health" both available on Netflix

What’s your favourite vego restaurants/ food?

I eat at exclusive vego restaurants (Indian and Chinese vegetarian food) but can also find vego food choices at most restaurants. I especially like tofu dishes.

What kind of support would you like from the community?

More vego choices at normal restaurants

Vego population seems to be on the rise.  Vego diet seems to be on the trend.  What’s your view on this?

I agree there are more and more people taking on a vego diet. I think it reflects how people are fed up with pre-packaged and/or fast foods and want to return to whole foods, especially vegetables, nuts and fruits.

I also think there is increasing scientific evidence for the benefits of vegetables and the health risks of eating certain meats, especially preserved meats such as salami and bacon.