The Rise and Rise of Veganism in Hong Kong

The Rise and Rise of Veganism in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a foodie paradise. That is Hong Kong’s best come on for me ever since I moved here more than a couple of years ago. Dubbed as the “World’s Food Fair”, the food choices will definitely astound anyone who visits.

Hong Kong is known mostly for its meat and seafood dishes – roast pork, sweet and sour pork, beef brisket noodles, chicken feet or phoenix talons. Going for yum cha – eating dim sum and drinking tea – is also part of the culture of Hong Kongers. Dim sum consists of small portions of delicious dishes mostly served in bamboo baskets, such as dumplings, steamed buns, rice noodle rolls, among others.

Of course, aside from regular Cantonese fare and Chinese food, all types of cuisines are available in Hong Kong. And because it is living up to its name of being Asia’s world city, Hong Kong is now also opening up to vegans, expanding its food offerings to include plant-based dishes to serve the growing vegan community.

Becoming vegan-friendly

The vegan scene is thriving in Hong Kong. More vegan-friendly restaurants are opening, and traditional ones are increasingly offering plant-based options. Plus, a wide variety of vegan products are available in the market. In fact, all these animal product-free choices are available on food delivery apps, a testament to the growing vegan community in Hong Kong. Being true to its identity as a foodie paradise, Hong Kong now offers the best plant-based dishes at varying price points to serve the needs of vegans.

Image: kondratya.

This thriving city of 7.5 million people is now one of the top 10 vegan-friendly destinations in Asia according to animal rights organisation PETA. Social enterprise Green Monday is credited for the accelerating the adoption of plant-based eating. Established in 2012 to address climate change, food insecurity, health issues, and animal welfare through their business ventures, the organisation launched its social movement to encourage as many people as possible to healthier Meat-free foods on Mondays. Their formula to success: “make sustainable living simple, viral, and actionable” by partnering with 1000 restaurants in Hong Kong to offer vegetarian-friendly meals on their menus. They also operate some Green Common stores which has made it possible for vegans to stock up on plant-based goods and have a wide variety of healthy and delicious products to choose from.

A vegan feast for all in Hong Kong

A few decades ago, vegans had little options at restaurants, resorting to ‘rabbit food’ of side salads. Nowadays, vegans have a plethora of plant-based meal options to choose from: burgers, pizza, faux sausage, cakes, and even beer! There’s a plant-based alternative for almost every food you can think of.

If you’re craving for burgers in Hong Kong, Beef & Liberty’s plant-based sister, Leaves & Liberty is a place to check out. Try their Falafel burger stuffed with vegan harissa mayonnaise, tomato and parsley salsa which will delight your taste buds.

What’s more, Leaves & Liberty will donate HK$8 to the Nature Conservancy Hong Kong for every falafel burger sold. This is the company’s way of showing support for a more sustainable environment. “As a business, we’ve made it our goal to work towards a greener, healthier and more sustainable menu as well as supporting and sponsoring environmental protection campaigns,” its website states.

Now if it’s a vegan pizza you’re craving for, you can still go to your neighborhood pizza place Alvy’s and go for their veggie-fan favorite Fort Greene pizza which is loaded with vegan cheese with a mountain of shaved asparagus for toppings.

You can also order a pint of vegan craft beer to go with your delicious vegan pizza because Alvy’s has got it right– pizza and beer should always go hand in hand!

Now if you want a buffet of vegan meal options, head over to the Green Tech Café for a fusion of international dishes. They’ve got lots of plant-based food on their menu much to the delight of the vegan community. From Singapore style noodles to stir-fried mushroom pasta, rainbow veg fried noodle, udon with miso soup, and Beyond Meat sausage and tofu burgers, you’ll be treated to explosive flavors and Instagrammable dishes. They even have vegan lattes and plant-based cheesecakes to cap off your vegan dining experience (and the best news for me, it’s just right in front of my office building!).

Clearly, Hong Kong’s food scene has expanded to serve the growing vegan community with various delicious hearty meals fit for a feast.

Vegan rising

Veganism is becoming more mainstream thanks to the influence of celebrities and ordinary people sharing their passion for plant-based living on social media, from Miley Cyrus to influencers such as Ellie Bullen of Elsa’s Wholesome Life and Ella Mills aka Deliciously Ella. Today, 25% up to 70% of Hong Kong residents eat vegan meals at least once a week according to several surveys, indicating that there is indeed a growing market for plant-based and meat-free foods. And with increasing consumer demand, the business community is responding in return, by meeting the needs of this fast-growing market by offering plant-based options, from vegan skincare to cruelty-free fashion.

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To illustrate the growth in veganism, foodtech company OmniFoods recently launched OmniLuncheon Meat, a plant-based alternative to everybody’s all-time favorite canned meat. This is the newest addition to the growing list of vegan-friendly alternatives in their OmniPork Line.

Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have been offering plant-based meat burgers and sausages in the Hong Kong market for years. Vegan fashion, makeup, and skincare are also trending not just in Hong Kong but all over the world.

There are stylish handbags and classy shoes that are all made without animal byproducts and are 100% cruelty-free. There are even vegan condoms sold in the market. Indeed, now is a good time to be vegan as the choices are unlimited making it easier and more natural to practice the cruelty-free lifestyle.

Vegan living

Veganism is more than choosing not to eat animals and their products. Veganism is a way of life that excludes everything that is a by-product of animal exploitation and cruelty such as those found in food and clothing. There are many reasons why people choose to embrace the vegan lifestyle. It can be due to ethical reasons. They believe that animals have the right to live and be free and detest what animals have to go through just for people to have something to eat.

Related Post: 5 Common Hurdles for New Vegans – And How to Beat Them

Actor Joaquin Phoenix shares his experience when he was a kid that served as a turning point in his life:

“They were catching fish, and I guess to stun them they were throwing them against the side of the boat. I just had a profound strong reaction. It felt like a real injustice. I just thought it was such a gross abuse of power in a way. I think that during that moment, we knew that we were not going to eat meat anymore.”

Some people choose to go vegan for health reasons. According to American professional tennis player Venus Williams, her transition to a plant-based diet happened when she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome:

“I started for health reasons. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible. Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”

Studies show that plant-based diets reduce the risk of certain illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2016, the Chinese government provided dietary guidelines for people to reduce their meat consumption to combat the rising numbers of people developing obesity, cancer, and heart disease. This is one of the driving forces of the growth in veganism in Hong Kong.

There are many others who have adopted the vegan lifestyle as their way of lessening their environmental impact. Animal agriculture accounts for 65% of the world’s harmful gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Legendary singer Stevie Wonder said in an interview:

“I’m motivating people to do something about how we’re living on this planet. We have to be about making our planet greener, the urban areas more sustainable for the children. We can’t just talk about it, we have to be about it.”

People are going vegan for health, animal welfare and environmental reasons and it’s clear that this is not a passing trend; veganism is a lifestyle movement that is part of a worldwide social transformation that’s happening right now. Vegans are prompting us to look closer within ourselves, find compassion and respect for all living creatures, and make better, purposeful choices in what we eat and buy for the sake of the planet.

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Cover image of vegan pancakes at Ohms Cafe & Bar in Hong Kong by Jojo Yuen.

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