With more and more people choosing to go vegan or vegetarian, options are increasing gradually. Recently a popular restaurant in Discovery Bay announced their completely revamped, predominantly vegetarian menu kindling mixed reactions from the community. Initially what began as a diet promoted by animal rights activists, has now gone beyond the realm of morality, to become a healthier lifestyle choice, says Suveera, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
I have always been a food lover at heart. The lure of those once a week outings to the latest new entry in the foodies’ directory was difficult to resist. India is a vegetarian’s paradise. I have always believed that if you have to be a vegetarian, India is the best place to be it.
Cut to Hong Kong, my present home, I sometimes feel cheated. Till a few years back, options were limited. I could not just walk into a food court, and expect to eat a hearty meal. Choices sometimes were few and far between. Many times I could find only chocolates or fruits from a supermarket to muzzle my growling stomach.
Hence it was with some apprehension that I said yes to a dinner outing with my meat eating friends, at a Chinese restaurant that I had visited two years back. As a backup plan, I asked my helper to have dinner ready. Judging from past experience, I assumed I would probably come back hungry, having eaten just customised fried rice (no meat, fish, or fish sauce please are the standard instructions) on my plate. Or maybe if I am lucky, I would get to choose from the three menu items hiding at the bottom of the last page of the otherwise exhaustive menu. I announced to my husband, complaining, “I bet I will come back hungry!”
But this time I got to eat my words and some more. I was in for a pleasant surprise. They had actually printed a separate menu for the vegetarians. Whatever was not on the menu, they were willing to customise for me. This was going to be a day where I would give gluttony a go! From dumplings to tofu, string beans to even their own version of samosas, it was a luscious experience.
This is a trend that is fast picking up in Hong Kong. With more and more people choosing to go vegan or vegetarian, options are increasing gradually. Recently a popular restaurant in Discovery Bay announced their completely revamped, predominantly vegetarian menu kindling mixed reactions from the community. I for one was cheering for it. It was a sort of revengeful guilty pleasure I guess, seeing the tables turned. Yes, payback time!
Dozens of meat-free and vegetarian eating joints have mushroomed to cater to increasing demand. Between 2015 and 2020, the vegan market is expected to rise by 17 percent. Meat-free Hong Kong, a group for vegans, has an ever-increasing membership, since being established in 2009.
Hong Kong’s growing love affair with a plant-based diet has caught global attention. Pret a manager a leading health food chain chose Hong Kong to launch its first veggie pret outside of Britain.
Documentaries like ‘Cowspiracy’ among others show how animal agriculture is the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases and environmental degradation. Figures from WWF forum claims that 76 percent of Hong Kong’s ecological footprint comes from the eating habits of its people.
With growing awareness about food, we choose not to have factory farmed, antibiotic pumped food on our plates. Initially what began as a diet promoted by animal rights activists, has now gone beyond the realm of morality, to become a healthier lifestyle choice.
Personally, I have been a vegetarian since birth, and am trying to raise my kids the same way. They do not eat meat at home. But do have an occasional bite outside. As adults, they can choose to go either way, but at least they would have seen both sides of the coin and would make an informed choice out of the experience. To choose between the colour green, red or white.
Photos from the Internet, from the author
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Suveera Sharma is a postgraduate in English and a qualified software trainer. She is an avid reader and writer. Being the daughter of an army officer, she spent her childhood in various cantonments all over India. At present, she is settled in Hong Kong. She runs storytelling sessions for little kids and writes in her spare time.