KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Vincent Tan has made many important decisions in life, but switching to a vegetarian diet was the best one he has ever made, he says.
A vegetarian for almost seven years now, the 70-year-old tycoon said the decision had changed his life for the better.
The founder and executive chairman of Berjaya Corporation said vegetarianism – added with the healthy habit of keeping away from alcohol and tobacco – has, to a certain extent, helped lower his risk for chronic diseases.
“Initially, it was not easy, but now I can’t take the smell of meat or even seafood like prawns,” he said in his keynote address at the Second Malaysian Lifestyle Medicine conference here on Thursday.
The two-day conference, themed “Lifestyle Medicine: A Prescription for Chronic Diseases”, deliberated on how lifestyle medicine can help reduce one-third of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through prevention and treatment by 2030, Bernama reported.
Tan said it was Tzu Chi Foundation founder Master Cheng Yen who suggested he adopt a vegetarian diet when they met in Taiwan seven years ago.
“When I visited Master Cheng Yen, everything there was vegetarian and it was then she said vegetarian would be good for me.
“So, the best decision I have made in life was becoming a vegetarian. I feel physically healthier, mentally more alert and spiritually richer,” he added.
Tan said he believes that vegetarianism is an effective way of preventing many diseases, adding that it has helped keep his blood sugar and blood pressure level under control for years.
The philanthropist, who also encouraged his family and friends to become vegetarian, said he only serves vegetarian dishes when hosting business functions.
To introduce the diet to more people, he added that he also set up a vegetarian cafe at his hotel.
Tan has advised parents to inculcate the habit of consuming more vegetables and fruits among their children.
“The low number of vegetarians in the country (about 5%) is because there is a perception that the diet only (consists of) salad and nothing else. But I eat vegetarian nasi lemak, nasi briyani and curry laksa,” he added.
Tan also called on environmentalists to become vegetarian to give greater credibility to their environmentalism.