Although the groundswell has been building for quite some time now—with restaurants like Living Food (GF, Menara Tan and Tan, Jalan Tun Razak) and Ashley's (11, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, +6017-325 3663) leading the charge towards healthy eating—it's really only been this visit to KL that I've noticed just how robust the healthy eating movement has become here. Not surprisingly, it's the millennials who are spearheading this sea change. Younger, more health conscious, less likely to smoke, and much more likely to lead a fitness-centric lifestyle than we disgraceful Gen X-ers, the millennials are also behind many of the healthy eating initiatives that are becoming part and parcel of KL's gastronomic landscape. True, many of these young entrepreneurs have the benefit of substantial family war chests to finance their endeavours, but it's worth noting that said fortunes aren't being squandered in aimless jet-setting lifestyles but as canny investments in what could potentially develop into lucrative ventures as Malaysians increasingly understand and embrace the importance of putting good fuel into our bodies.
"What's important is making that crucial decision to make a change, a little every day, so that ultimately it becomes a way of life," PurelyB nutrition coach Marissa Parry said.
To wit: Caleen Chua—whose family owns the institution that is Chakri Palace—may not have ventured too far from the familiar confines of Thai food with her Thai-Japanese eatery Sanoook (GF, Sunway Pyramid, +603-5650 5196, Level 1, Pavilion Elite, +603-2110 5756) but cleverly tucked into the display counter are takeaway salad jars that are perfect for eating (healthily) on the run. A little later to the ballgame—but no less on the ball—are the Li siblings, with their freshly minted vegetarian eatery The Good Co (184 Jalan Maarof, +603-2202 6536), located in Bangsar at the new family flagship Bon Estates Gallery. The food they serve is a celebration of all things good, with a plethora of salad pots—the Thai-inspired Scallop-Dee-Kap, with grilled king oyster mushroom 'scallops' marinated with ginger and lemongrass, mango, glass noodles, and passionfruit dressing, sounds especially intriguing—as menu headliners. Whilst I find the proliferation of single-use plastic jars a nasty distraction to what the team is trying to accomplish (why not use recyclable glass instead?), there is nevertheless much to applaud. Persuading Malaysians to eschew their daily nasi lemak habit in favour of organic vegetarian meals will be a gargantuan battle, but founder Levy Li is certain it's a fight she will ultimately prevail, and it's a sentiment that's enthusiastically shared by PurelyB (purelyb.com) founder Jesrina Arshad, who, like Levy, chanced upon the idea for her one stop holistic healthy living portal when she discovered she was allergic to wheat, dairy, and eggs.
"We're not suggesting that you go cold turkey straight away, because that's impossible to maintain, no matter how good your intentions. What's important is making that crucial decision to make a change, a little every day, so that ultimately it becomes a way of life," PurelyB nutrition coach Marissa Parry said, when they were guests on Feeding Time. Her suggestions include substituting 'bad' oils with such good ones as coconut oil, portion control, and having an open mind to change. But, like her savvy Gen-Y compatriots, time- and energy-starved customers needn't worry about spending hours they don't have in making almond milk, because the portal, together with healthy meal plans, also conveniently offers a meal delivery service to ensure that taking the leap into healthy eating territory is as painless as possible.
Time will tell if these tenacious ambassadors for healthy eating can win over those Malaysians who are grimly determined to hang on to their nasi kandar, hardening of arteries or not, but it's definitely a mammoth step in the right direction, and I for one, am firmly in their corner rooting for their success.