Going vegan might not save the world

People dabble with veganism for various reasons. Some for the health benefits, some for the love of animals, and some for the environment. While we support diversified diets and less meat consumption on the whole, if you are becoming a vegan solely because you’ve been told veganism is THE antidote to global warming and climate change, drop your kale and take a seat – we have some news for you. 

No, we’re not here to burst anyone’s green bubble. Ditching meat could very well be the most sustainable thing anyone can do to help save the planet, but that depends on where you live, where your food comes from, and how it lands on your plate. 


Source: Guideline.blog

Is your hood vegan friendly

In Finland, eating fish is considered an environmentally sustainable diet because fishing helps prevent the lakes from overcrowding and in turn, keeps the underwater life healthy. In some Arctic communities, consuming seal meat is also considered sustainable (and nutritionally efficient) because not many vegetables can withstand frost. For greens to make their way to the table, they’d either have to be raised under controlled conditions, or be transported from other parts of the world. 

From plant to plate… by plane

And that brings us back to Hong Kong and our supermarket visits. Imported perishable fruits and veggies like asparagus, strawberries, grapes… most of them have travelled far usually by air, truck or barge to make it to the shelves and believe it or not, transportation can actually create more greenhouse gas emission than a quail. 


“Not as bad” doesn’t mean “good”

Plant-based alternative and faux meat brands are on the rise, and they all have the same promise of doing good for the environment. Granted, imitation meat has less carbon footprint than animal meat, but it’s still heavily processed, and with that comes the price of deforestation, habit destruction and carbon emissions.

Fair trade can fail 

As the demand for plant production arises, labour violations increase. According to Harvard Political Review, approximately 3.5 million agricultural workers globally are enslaved people, and about 75% of farmworkers in the United States are undocumented. This field is notorious for mistreatment and underpayment, which affects both plant and animal farmworkers. Not to mention the toxic chemicals they inhale everyday and the intense labour that comes with the job. 


People vs. plants

Less meat means more reliance on plants. More plants mean more reliance on soy, corn and hybridized wheat. At the moment, artificial fertilisers account for at least 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (meat and diary make up 14.5%, but you get the point). Plant diversity is key and moving to regenerative agriculture could be a solution, but can it cope with the load of feeding the world’s population? We haven’t done the maths but we’re going ahead with “very unlikely”. 

Conscious living is key

So no, going vegan is not a one-size-fits-all dietary solution and it won’t save the planet (as least not right now). But yes, if you are mindful of where your food comes from and how it is made, going vegan could mean less negative impact on our environment. And for many, that’s good enough of a reason to adopt the V and drop the meat. 

Vegan Easter giveaway with our pals at Cakery

Hands up if you’re vegan, suffer from a dairy allergy or are just trying to be a little bit healthier this month?

Fret not, you can indulge over Easter too this year thanks to Cakery, 8Shades’ favorite guilt free bakery. Not only is their Easter egg vegan, it’s actually so gorgeous on the eyes, you might not want to eat it!

This isn’t like your ordinary bar of plain vegan chocolate my friends, this Easter egg is so awesome it’s even hiding a surprise inside. For all of you who have missed out for so long, now we can really indulge.


It’s no secret that the dairy industry causes significant environmental damage which is comprised of land clearing, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from industrially farmed cows methane and excessive water usage. So even if you’re not vegan, just by eating vegan chocolate this year instead of conventional chocolate, you are actively taking a step towards making the world a shade greener.

8Shades is about the small changes, not about giving up guilty pleasures.

This Easter 8Shades will be gifting two of Cakery’s Large Easter Egg’s (HK$588) to our Instagram competition winners. As if the Egg wasn’t enough of an incentive, we are also giving away two of their newest vegan Picnic Basket’s (HK$618) which for the lucky winners, will be delivered directly to your doorstep. Click here to enter NOW!


This vegan Easter egg really has to be seen to be believed. Dressed in a cheerful ombre yellow and decorated with a trail of fondant flowers and a surprise center of twenty four mini eggs, it’s sure to be a hit with the kids.


The Cakery’s new vegan Picnic Basket is a real treat and the perfect way to enjoy the sunny outdoors over the Easter holidays. While the purchase price is HK$618, please note that upon returning the basket to any of The Cakery outlets, HK$30 will be refunded back to you.

The picnic basket packs a full portable afternoon tea-style set for two, including savory vegan dishes such as Cauliflower Salad, Red Pesto Sweet Potato Sandwiches, Superfood Crackers with Cheese Dip, and Roasted Corn with Spicy Mayo, as well as some sweet vegan pastries to balance out the meal.

Sweets include Croissant, Mini Lemon Tarts, Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate Tarts, Vegan Mini Cupcakes, and Chocolate Dreamer Cupcakes. Wash it all down with some refreshing Organic Sodas.


Click through to our Instagram page here to enter the competition now!

What’s the best way to cook rice?

Preparing rice is one of those things passed down through generations. You never really need to read the instructions on the packet, it’s just in-grained (excuse the pun). Now we have so many different types of rice available to us, we don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of cooking every different grain. 

If you are a health nut like us, you’ll also prefer eating whole grains. That’s why we tend to stick to brown rice over white rice because of it’s higher fibre content, higher mineral levels, better protein, nutrient profile and because it’s generally less processed. 

The challenges with cooking rice are two-fold. Rice in general, contains arsenic, a heavy metal that our bodies don’t love too much of. Brown rice specifically, contains phytic acid, an antinutrient which can stop you properly absorbing all that healthy stuff that comes with it. 

That’s why preparing brown rice properly is key and requires only a little forward thinking. Just soak it in filtered water for 24 hours which releases most of the nasties!


So here’s our quick guide on how to cook the lesser cooked rice:

  1. Soak the brown rice for 24 hours in filtered water before cooking. This ensures that the phytic acid (antinutrient) and arsenic content is significantly lowered and it reduces cooking time. 
  2. After 24 hours, rinse the rice with filtered water. 
  3. If using a rice cooker, set it to “multigrain” and cover with water about 3cm above the top of the rice. 
  4. If using a pot, cover with water about half an inch above the rice boil on medium heat, uncovered for 20 minutes.

Voila, healthy and delicious!


SURVIVING FEB – OUR TOP 3

February; the shortest month of the year made even more hectic by Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. Check out our top 3 things to get you through this month:

1

No doubt we will be consuming meals on a more decadent scale this month, so it’s worth dedicating your education towards the world of food. Written by a chef called Dan Barber, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, forces us to rethink the farm-to-table movement that gained traction this last decade which was unsuccessfully in changing the standard American diet for the better. This book exposes how our food habits and culture are inextricably linked to the environment. 


2

With a month of gift giving and food sharing, we take a look at what chocolate we have fallen in love with. Conspiracy Chocolate was founded by an expat couple in Hong Kong, they focus on a bean-to-bar process which results in tailored chocolate crafting that aims for quality and nuances. Buying a bean-to-bar chocolate rewards and celebrates the cacao bean provenance, the farmers themselves and works towards treating cacao-growing regions in the world much like you would a vineyard. With enchanting flavours, such as Sourdough, Fermented Ghost Pepper and Chai, you’re guaranteed a delectable dessert course.


3

As mentioned, it’s going to be a hectic month, so download the Flora app which is a goal and habit tracker that encourages you to put your phone down from time to time (hello, living in the moment!) and keep you motivated by having you grow and maintain a virtual tree – equally great for kids, teens and adults. For those seeking to make ethical fashion easier, the Good On You app rates sustainable fashion labels so you can shop smart and support the right brands across the world.

New Year, New Me… Really

Chinese New Year is a joyful time rife with festivities, frivolities, family time and some incredibly full bellies, but as we dive into celebrations this year, it’s worthwhile to identify and solve certain problems that have grown over time, intertwined with traditions and sheer habit. There are customs you’d be hard pressed to battle with, but there are ways to actively be more sustainable this year – no excuses! 

It is often the most challenging to convince previous generations to alter a lifetime of tradition, but with careful explanation, a helping hand and at times, some cajoling, you’d be surprised how receptive they can be. By shifting our ways and those of others in our lives, there is hope for our future generations to take on these new, more sustainable methods to celebrate this time of year, who eventually, won’t know it any other way.


1

Lai see, yes please, but…

A local study performed in 2014 revealed upwards of 16,000 trees were sacrificed to make lai see packets for just one year in Hong Kong alone.

Tradition is tradition and we love it, but maybe it’s time to, well, get with the times. Lai See packets are an inevitable joy for those receiving and pain for those doling out and of course, the poor environment suffers like no other! Be sure to purchase lai see packets that are not specific to the year, better yet, custom made using recycled FSC paper, and tuck the flaps in so they can be reused the following years. Ask your local bank if they have any lai see packet recycling programmes; many do. Take it upon yourself to research e-payment companies as well as banks, where interest in electronic lai see is burgeoning. 


2

The gift of giving

Going through the motions and gifting mindlessly means a gargantuan increase in packaging tossed in the rubbish.

Instead of buying snacks and other edibles, why not make it from scratch at home? It will decrease your consumption of packaging and who doesn’t adore a homemade treat?


3

Out with the old, in with the new

The age-old adage of spring cleaning en masse only to head straight back out to purchase new things to replace whatever we’ve just eliminated is mind-boggling and simply a vicious cycle we need to break.

When clearing clutter from your home, be mindful with your disposal – sort out recycling and donating thoughtfully and responsibly. Let this be an opportunity to streamline your belongings, appreciate them and identify what really needs to be kept, tossed or replaced.


4

Decoration nation

Decorations are one of the worst offenders during Chinese New Year, as they are rarely kept and used again. 

Instead of buying cut flowers, which wilt away all too soon, consider a potted variety which last long after celebrations have ended – surely a much better omen for the new year. You could also make your own festive decorations using repurposed materials and fabrics; a fun activity for adults and kids alike.


5

All gluttony, no glory

Food wastage is not only terrible for your conscience, damaging to the environment but could be eradicated completely while helping those in need.

Donate excess food to family service centres, nursing homes or any non-profit organisations who are open to donations. Food Wise Hong Kong provide a lengthy catalogue of options. The word “excess” runs rampant during Chinese New Year, especially when it comes to food, so it’s worth taking the time to carefully plan meals ahead of time so that just enough is made, with not too much to spare.

The Steaks Are High this CNY

The Year of the Ox is upon us, and we have a rare opportunity to reflect upon something timely: steak. Who doesn’t love a million juicy steaks? Regrettably, the environment. 

The cattle industry is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gases worldwide. Each year, a single cow can also belch 220 pounds of methane. Cattle production also has a large water footprint: it takes around 50 bathtubs of water to produce just one factory farmed steak, yikes! 

The amount of water used for factory farmed meat production in just 35 hours could provide drinking water for everyone on earth for a whole year. Moreover, the conversion of wild land for beef is a leading cause of deforestation in many tropical regions and, by extension, the destruction of habitat and wildlife extinction. 

If the world is to meet its target of limiting global warming, some degree of shift in our beef consumption or awareness is necessary.


But I don’t want to be vegan 

Now, we understand that not everyone can give up beef, we believe meat can contribute to a healthy diet and therefore vegetarian or veganism might not always be the best option. We are not advocating for anyone to completely give up their beloved steak. Rather we hope that you’ll journey with us in becoming a more conscious beef consumer, especially during this symbolic Year of the Ox.


Check out some of our tips to help you:

  1. One day a week, cut the meat!

Consider #MeatlessMonday, which is a global movement that encourages people to not eat meat on Monday to improve their health, and the health of the planet. 

  1. Make beef your side bae.

For those of who do not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies, make meat your side dish, and choose more meat and non-meat combos. Remember there are alternate sources that pack more iron than beef: oysters, white beans, tofu, and chia seeds. 

  1. Less burgers, more bacon. 

We cut down a lot of forests to harvest animals, but beef, far more than pork or chicken, requires much more land, contributing to greater environmental harm. 

  1. The Lab is Fab.

Get excited about the booming lab-grown, cultured meat industry. Together, scientists and entrepreneurs have begun to master both the taste and the feel of meat. Even Michelin-starred restaurants have started featuring lab-grown meat on their menus. 

  1. Less dairy, less bloating. 

To reduce our reliance on cows, we also should try to limit our dairy consumption. Thankfully, dairy-free alternatives like oat milk, soy milk, and rice milk are delicious and readily available at most supermarkets. Fun fact: Asians are more likely to be lactose intolerant, and they also have longer life expectancies. This reinforces the fact that milk may not be the complete health food we are led to believe. 

  1. Choose pasture-raised, grass-fed beef. 

Mass produced beef on factory-farms is manifold worse in terms of polluting our air, land, and water streams. Some of the largest meat processing companies produce more carbon emissions than fossil fuel giants like Shell or BP. Alternatively, pasture-raised cows who graze outdoors correspond with much more sustainable farming operations. Moreover, these cows tend to live in more natural, ethical conditions, grazing freely, rather than live their lives cramped in cages.  

  1. Turn on your TV.

Continue educating yourself by watching gripping movies that explore the hidden secrets of the meat industry. Our favorite Netflix docos include Cowspiracy, Kiss the Earth, and Vegucated. Check out a great YouTube option here

  1. Spread the message! 

A little less meat today may not seem like a significant contribution, but more conscious meat choices over time will do wonders for the environment (and your health)! Committing to #MeatlessMonday with your family and friends can bring about fun and creative opportunities to make some new, meatless family recipes together. Let’s get creative!


Share your conscious hacks on Instagram and tag us @8Shadesofficial and #findyourgreen.