8Shades Of… Peggy Chan of Grassroots Initiatives

In our latest edition of ‘8Shades of’, we chat with one of Hong Kong’s first plant-based pioneers, Peggy Chan. You may know Peggy from her legendary plant-based restaurants, Grassroots Pantry and Nectar, but she’s gone beyond chefdom now with Grassroots Initiatives, a consultancy for the hospitality industry, not to mention the release of her plant-based cookbook, Provenance.

On a mission to transform the way people eat – and therefore the planet – Peggy is also executive director of Zero Foodprint Asia, which “mobilises restaurants to directly support improvements in the food system with just a few dollars per diner.”

Get to know more about Peggy’s eco habits, fave products and why everyone should care about sustainability:

Photo: Peggy Chan

  1. In one sentence, tell us what you do!

I work in the field of food systems design and development that aims to tackle systemic issues in our local, and global food system in order to better create a just, affordable, healthy and regenerative planet for all.

2. Why are you an 8Shader? 

Resilience is one of the key characteristics of sustainability. One cannot sustain him/herself if he/she can’t meet the basic needs of survival – just as the planet cannot sustain itself if it’s not equipped to remain resilient simply because humans have continued to deplete it. I learned to become self-reliant and resilient since I was a teenager, to make something out of nothing, to stay fluid, creative and always bounce back stronger. I think either of these traits would have to be in an 8Shader’s genes!

3. Your best eco habit?

My 21-year plant-based journey, which eventually made it into a career! Being able to share and influence others on how delicious, nutritious and creative whole foods plant-based cooking can be is what I’m most proud of.

4. Guilty not-so-green habit?

I should really be taking public transport more often, but that’s because I’m deathly afraid of huge crowds and loud people.

5. Fave eco product? 

Difficult to choose just one because it’s ingrained in my lifestyle, but lately, it has to be @nourishcleanbeauty’s Monastery line of Rose Cleansing Oil, Gold Botanical Oil and Flora Botanical Cream Serum. It feels like I’m getting the best facial and spa treatment, all in one.

6. Fave veggie dish in HK? 

Too many to mention!

7. What is the biggest takeaway you’d like people to know about food and sustainability? 

That over 80 percent of the carbon emissions in food derives from the earlier stages of the supply chain – meaning how the ingredients are grown, how land is used to grow them, and how the raw ingredients itself are processed. This is as opposed to what most people may think – via transportation and packaging waste. This means that if we truly want to tackle food’s emission problems, we MUST address the issue of animal agriculture, industrial farming systems, monocrops and land degradation due to industrial farming methods.

8. What shade of green are you and why?

I would consider myself an ancient moss green… lived, yet refuses to stop growing, and the most obstinate of green.

See also: 8Shades Of… Katheryn Pang of Green Sisters Creation