why we went vegan

Hong Kong’s Plant-based Personalities On Why They Went Veggie

Here at 8Shades, we recently rounded up eight Hollywood celebs who you might not have realised were veggies – but how about some people a little closer to home? 

With #WorldVeganMonth in full swing this November, we took the opportunity to speak to eight plant-based personalities in Hong Kong to find out more about their diets and what made them decide to go veggie in the first place.

Katie Tang

Founder of sustainable lifestyle online store Glowing Natural

I’d describe myself as a flexitarian, with a 90 percent plant-based diet. I cook exclusively plant-based food at home and feature only vegetarian and vegan dishes on my Instagram. I made the switch partly for health reasons; I was never a big meat eater and had begun looking into how to increase my nutrient intake, strengthen my health and reduce my allergies.

I’m also passionate about sustainability. Looking around at what’s happening in the world, I could see that our planet is sick and making just a slight change to our diets could help ease climate issues. Do we really need meat? It’s clear that animal farming is harmful and going plant-based doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to eat! Nowadays, there are loads of great options that can help make the switch easier; I wanted to promote an alternative lifestyle that’s both enjoyable and sustainable. The future is plant-based – it’s as simple as that!

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Michael Smith

Chef de cuisine of vegetarian-centric restaurant Moxie

michael smith

My diet is predominantly plant-based. I’ll eat fish occasionally when I’m in restaurants, but that’s mainly out of convenience if there aren’t other adequate options. I first changed my diet in January 2020 to be vegetarian, after a lifetime of being a meat-eater – the idea started as part of a holistic approach to improving my overall health, and I initially thought it might be a month-long experiment. But after eating that way for a month, I noticed a dramatic difference so I decided to continue on that path – and will never look back again! 

Since then, my diet has evolved from being vegetarian with the occasional bit of fish, to being predominantly vegan with some sustainably-sourced fish from time to time. It has also evolved from being a health-motivated choice to being a decision driven by both health and sustainability.

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Sonalie Figueiras

Founder and editor-in-chief of eco media platform Green Queen

sonalie hong kong plant-based personalities

My diet is vegan as much as I can control it, though there may be the odd time that I’ll have a dish with egg in – usually something my mum has baked! Choosing veganism has been a journey. Way back in 2007, I first cut down meat, seafood and dairy because I have many health issues and was concerned about hormones, antibiotics and animal fats; I also gave up most seafood around this time for ethical reasons, as slavery is pervasive across that industry. 

In 2014, we got a puppy and having a dog made me rethink my relationship with animals – I’d fallen in love with this baby dog, but then I was putting a dead chicken on my plate? It didn’t add up for me. Then finally in 2016, after years of research, I realised that industrial animal agriculture was a big driver of climate change – that’s when I decided Green Queen needed to become vegan! Once I understood the truth about eggs and dairy regarding animal cruelty, it was easy to just go 100 percent plant-based.

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David Yeung

Founder of social venture Green Monday, the creator of Omnifoods

david yeung

I decided to turn vegetarian 20 years ago. Turning to a plant-based diet was a personal choice, when I found out about all the environmental impact that the livestock industry has on our planet and future generations. Our global food supply chain is flawed, unsustainable and vulnerable. When it collapses, people will have no choice but to wake up and realise that they need solutions and alternatives.

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Peggy Chan

Founder of Grassroots Initiatives and executive director of Zero Foodprint Asia, helping businesses implement more sustainable operations

peggy chan hong kong plant-based personalities

I don’t care for labels as I find that it creates unnecessary judgement and comparisons – but I’m vegetarian, promote plant-based food, love cheese, and am lactose and allium intolerant. I cut red meat from my diet in 2000, then poultry and fish around 2006.

I changed my diet because of animal welfare, my belief in non-violence, and because our food system is so unjust, unethical and unsustainable. The only way that I felt I could make sure the food I ate was ‘clean’ and ethically-grown was to source as closely as possible – to know how the foods I eat are grown, and to know that my money is going to the right places and supporting farmers who do good work. With that, I discovered that I actually feel much better, rarely get sick and know that I’m doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint.

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Plant-based cook and food blogger at The Veggie Wifey

divya hong kong plant-based personalities

I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian; I eat dairy, cheese and eggs but no meat. I decided to change my diet 12 years ago, after visiting my aunt. She’s very spiritual and a strict follower of a Sattvic diet; when I stayed with her, I had no choice but to follow her customs, where anything derived from animals was not allowed in the house. I followed a Sattvic diet for two weeks and it changed everything my body was used to; when I tried to return to my normal meat-eating ways, my body completely rejected it and couldn’t digest meat like it had before. So overnight, I decided that I’d take the step to become vegetarian; I now try to incorporate Sattvic ways in my diet as much as possible. 

Being a vegetarian in Hong Kong is not very easy, so I learnt how to cook delicious vegetarian meals, which has made the journey a lot easier – and I hope to share that with the world through my blog and social platforms!

Follow Divya on Instagram.

Christian Mongendre

Founder of plant-based restaurant Treehouse


I’ve gone through all kinds of diet – vegan, raw, non-processed – but now, I’d say I’m completely vegetarian and 95 percent whole plant-based; I have free-range organic eggs occasionally, almost no cheese and zero dairy. I think having some flexibility allows us to enjoy a better lifestyle without creating tension for when you don’t have access to certain foods, and it means you’ll be more successful at achieving any dietary goals.

I used to participate in high-level athletics and saw that being on a vegetarian diet helped my performance and recovery tremendously. I had a natural tendency of not wanting to eat animal products, even from a very young age, and the first thing that I quit was dairy. I just felt like I didn’t need meat or fish in my diet, and I loved the idea of only eating vegetables and first-hand energy produced by the sun. It’s a very powerful way to eat and gives you a clearer mind and a greater sense of connection to nature and the world around us – and that way, you’re also contributing less to the negative impact driven by the meat industry.

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Amy Elkhoury

Founder of plant-based cheese company Nuteese

amy hong kong plant-based personalities

I’d say that I’m 100 percent plant-based but not 100 percent vegan, as I love fashion and still own leather goods like purses, shoes and jackets that I’ve had for years. I do try to find good alternatives now though, choosing brands that have vegan styles such as Stella McCartney. 

I became vegan for health and environmental reasons, but mainly due to my love of animals. I have five cats and a dog that are all rescues, and I could never see myself eating them… so what’s the difference between a cat or dog from a cow, pig, duck or chicken?

Follow Amy on Instagram.

So whether you’re thinking about making the full switch or simply hoping to reduce meat in your diet with a few more #MeatlessMondays, here’s hoping you’ve found some plant-based inspiration in their stories!

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