Back in Hong Kong, we are living in a culture where meat eating is the norm, where our meat consumption per capita is among the highest in the world, and where vegetarians are in the minority. However, things are beginning to change. A new force, driven by an increased awareness of the benefits of a green diet, the love of our planet, and the pursuit of harmony in life, has been unleashed. Below we talk to the people behind the Green Monday initiative to find out more about this citywide environmental movement, and discover their tips on how to go green and eat healthy.
As the name suggests, Green Monday invites people to do without meat every Monday, which symbolises a wholesome start to the week, revitalising our minds and bodies. It is not about converting people to vegetarianism, nor does it require a dramatic lifestyle change or a huge time commitment. A Buddhist since his younger years and a vegetarian for the past 12, Yeung is someone who has sublimated his passion into insight. “In Hong Kong, everyone craves for convenience. If something that is too out of their way in terms of their lifestyle, they won’t adopt it,” he says. “But we’re not talking about diet, we’re just talking about giving up one day of meat per week, which is totally doable.”
“We focus on baby steps to go green,” adds local celebrity and TV host Janis Chan, who is now the executive director and ambassador for Green Monday. Chan was shocked after witnessing the melting glaciers during her honeymoon trip to Iceland last year, and decided to contribute her utmost efforts in mitigating global warming. According to Chan, the next steps after promoting awareness of a green diet to the public, are to expand the vegetarian dining scene, and make going meatless a more convenient and practical option for everyone.
Vegetarian Dining in Hong Kong
Compared to the rest of the world, Hong Kong has a much smaller vegetarian population, and David explains that there are three main reasons behind the figures. The first is misperception, with many thinking that vegetarian diets cannot provide adequate nutrition; the second is limited choice – there are few vegetarian restaurants or vegetarian options on menus; and, finally, there is a lack of awareness of the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Yeung, on the other hand, looks to India for inspiration. “The Indian population is predominantly vegetarian, so they always offer a good range of vegetarian dishes,” he explains. “The flavoursome curries in Indian cuisine are often served with spinach, cauliflower, potatoes and other healthy vegetables that offer a good source of nutrition.”
One of Yeung’s best-kept secrets, and where he visits from time to time, is Fan Tang in Causeway Bay. This Cantonese restaurant in Causeway Bay is famous for delicacies such as abalone and fish maw, but at the same time it provides one-of-a-kind vegetarian creations, including a meat-free version of mapo tofu, Sichuan-style vegetables in chilli broth, stir-fried black fungus with marinated eggs, and the very delicious braised pomelo skin. Yeung is also a fan of Harakan at Lee Gardens, which he says has a well-constructed vegetarian menu. “I’m particularly fond of their grilled ginko appetiser and udon noodles.”