While Hong Kong presents itself as a food paradise, the city’s food culture is mostly meat-heavy. Not only vegetables are a less common meal in an ordinary Hong Kong citizen’s diet, but each consumes as much as 664g of meat per day, equivalent to two pieces of 10-oz steak, being one of the highest in the world. Many factors could account for this distinct food preference, for example, the high vegetable prices pushed by COVID-19-related logistical complications. However, with raised awareness of health and the environment, together with compassion for animals, a trend toward vegetarianism and veganism has emerged in recent years, making it an increasingly popular lifestyle.
It’s more about the animals. As to the environment, animals are my main concern, but it’s nice that helping the environment is a byproduct. (…) So a little bit helps, but it’s nice to know that my main safety net is “Oh, I’m vegan, I help the environment quite a lot as is”.
Sasha Stepanova, a 20-year-old vegan food blogger from the University of Hong Kong
The Asian food industry must adapt to the growing number of consumers like Stepanova who avoid animal-based products by switching to or maintaining a vegetarian diet, and thus the 9th Vegetarian Food Asia (VFA), organised by Baobab Tree Event, is an excellent opportunity for food companies to precisely target their desired audience segment and attract new customers.
As COVID-19 restrictions are easing, Hong Kong’s biggest and most diverse vegetarian and green living expo continues to attract thousands of buyers and visitors from all over the world.
Between February 17-19, this year’s Vegetarian Food Asia is held in Hall 3FG of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, featuring 5,000 types of products and services from over 600 different brands. You can find grain, fruits and vegetables, nuts and dried fruits, edible seeds, herbs, and other interesting food items there. The winners of all categories of the “The Most Popular Veg Product” awards in 2023 are also offered in the booths, ranging from delicious sweets such as vegan plant blueberry cake (Booth: H16) and macadamia orange brownie, to savoury bites like Nonya Laksa plant-based pork fried dumplings (Booth: G10, G12) and assorted noodles (Booth: F12).
The expo offers more than food — the prefatory “Hong Kong Quality Veggie Awards“, green workshops, and seminars on green-related topics. Experts and scholars would be sharing insights on the sector’s market trends and commercial models, as well as vegetarianism and green health culture.
Following the Opening Ceremony at 11:30 a.m., six forums were held on February 17: the first at noon – “Acting Today to Shape Tomorrow – How to Turn Your Business to Achieve Sustainable Success” by speaker Christine Hong, and the last at 6 p.m. – “Vegan vs Vegetarian… the Need for a Formal Vegan Certification” by speaker Denis Leung. The complete schedule for the three days of the exhibition is available on the official VFA website.
The “Hong Kong Quality Veggie Awards” (HKQVA) is Hong Kong’s most prestigious vegetarian award. The rewards set its goal to gain industry recognition for exceptional vegetarian products, as well as to provide vegetarian enthusiasts with an in-depth understanding of ready and future products on the market. Citizens can also vote for the best vegetarian and vegan food products and green lifestyle items in the category “Public’s Choice Award“.
This year, HKQVA proudly presents a new tier “Public’s Choice Award – My Favorite Veg Mates“. By encouraging the public to vote for their favourite local vegetarian and vegan eateries and shops, the new category not only showcases the city’s dynamic veggie community but introduces high-rated veggie outlets to the general consumers, hoping more could find the virtues of vegetarianism and veganism.
Stepvanova, an Instagram food blogger who has been vegan for almost four years now, shares these ideas and promotes them to her “heavy meat eater” friends and friends who find themselves suspicious of the ideology in Hong Kong.
It’s very nice because after each meal she (Stepanova’s friend)’s like, “Oh, I’m going to bring my family here or my boyfriend here!”, and she wants to go there more. (…) And she always goes, she knows a lot of people, so I’m hoping she’ll bring them to and then they’ll like it because the places are genuinely really good, so I’m influencing everyone. (…) Yeah, so it’s nice, like spreading the vegetables and the vegetarian and vegan food is genuinely really good.
To follow Stepanova’s lead on spreading awareness about the vegetarian and vegan cafes and restaurants that won the ultimate love of their customers, we would like to present the winners of the four sub-categories of “Public’s Choice Award – My Favorite Veg Mates“.
“My Favourite Veggie Restaurant”: Years
A Japanese minimalist-style restaurant that offers a veggie-friendly menu of curries, pasta dishes, and burgers topped the chart.
“My Favourite Cafe with Vegan Options”: VegoCoffee
Another minimalist-style place that provides a variety of homemade light meals and vegan foods without eggs and milk won the audience’s love.
“My Favourite Retail Shop”: Batata Greens
The winner of this sub-category provides a great variety of vegetarian and vegan products which can be delivered straight to your door.
“My favourite Online Shop for Veg Products”: Green Common
This winning marketplace sells pioneering plant-based meat such as OmniPork and Beyond Meat, and a variety of plant-based milk options.
Do not miss out on the opportunity to learn all things about vegetarian and vegan living, nutrition, and the future of health trends! You can get a free complimentary ticket through online registration on the VFA website, but you can also purchase the ticket on-site for only 25 HKD.
Featured Image: Anna Sizova