International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

IVU Online News

Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
January 2008

Interview with IVU Regional Coordinator for East/SE Asia and Oceania
This interview, with Susianto Tseng - - is the third in a series of interviews with IVU representatives in various parts of the world. To find the contact information for the representative in your part of the world, visit

1. Hi, Susianto. You are the IVU Regional Coordinator (RC) for East/Southeast Asia and Oceania. How were you involved in vegetarianism before that?

I’m a chemist by training. I became a vegetarian in 1988 during my university times, when I studied food science and saw a lot of diseases associated with meat eating. When I switched to a veg diet, I started feeling healthier. Previously, my mother and grandmother used to eat vegetarian twice a month for religious reasons, and when I became vegetarian, my mother followed me to become a full-time vegetarian. 

After 10 years, in 1998, some of my vegetarian friends and I saw that although we knew many vegetarians in Indonesia, we vegetarians didn’t have any way to get together and empower each other. To rectify this situation, we had our first meeting near an organic farm outside Jakarta in 1998, and we joined IVU.

2. When and how did you learn about IVU?

In 1998, via a web search.

3. Currently, you are doing an M.S. in Nutrition. Please tell us a little about your thesis research.

The research investigates the nutritional status of vegetarian children in Indonesia. Some people believe that vegetarianism isn’t appropriate for children; they believe that children need to consume animal flesh in order to develop properly. My study was designed to explore this issue.

Participants in study were 281 children from 14 Indonesian cities who were veg from birth. The children were between three months and 8 yrs old.

According to the WHO standards for weight for age, height for age and weight for height, scores between -2 and +2 are good. 87% of the children in the study were found to be -2 or above, i.e., of good nutrition status. Those children with scores below -2 came from poor families in rural areas. I plan to follow-up this study in my doctoral research.

4. Do you do your RC work full-time, or do you have a regular job, too?

Yes, I have a regular job as Country Manager for a chemical and life science instrumentation company. Also, I am Chief Operational Officer of IVS (Indonesia Vegetarian Society):

5. Please say a bit about IVS.

IVS has 20,000 life members, who pay a membership fee of about US$1.5. In return, they receive a membership card which entitles them to discounts at veg restaurants, plus computer shops and other businesses. They are also entitled to informational materials on veg, including a veg starter kit, plus a VCD and vouchers. There are also another 40,000 people who have registered with IVS and are in our database. We are particularly proud of our blood donation service which helps vegetarians receive blood from fellow vegetarians, should the need arise.

6. Please share a vegetarian joke with us.

Sure, but to understand this joke, you have to know that in Indonesian, the word for earlobe is "daun telinga".  Daun literally means leaf. Telinga is ear. 

A non-veg boasts, “I can eat anything with 4 legs, except a table. Anything that flies I can eat except an airplane. And, I can eat anything that swims, except a submarine.” A veg replies, “Big deal. I can eat any leaf except the outer ear.“