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!

The Unleathering of Leather

Investors take note: the global vegan leather industry is forecasted to be worth nearly USD $90 billion by 2025! To put that in perspective, the global sports footwear market is currently valued at USD $90.4 billion. Wait a second, what exactly is vegan leather? Some of you may have heard of or even own faux fur. Well, like faux fur, vegan leather doesn’t use any animal skins or animal-derived materials.


We have to thank our eco-warriors for vegan leather’s meteoric rise in popularity. Today’s consumers are becoming more conscious about the environmental footprint of not just what they eat but what they wear and their dollars are speaking. In addition to issues of animal cruelty, traditional leather production is linked to some serious environmental hazards. 

90% of animal leather is made by tanning the hide (skin) of animals (most often cows, but also goats, kangaroos, crocodiles, fish) with chromium sulfate and other chromium salts. These are toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that often make their way into soil, waterways, and farmlands, and have caused respiratory problems, infections, infertility and birth defects among animals and humans.

More companies are hearing customers’ demands for planet friendly leather options, recognizing that their failure to innovate will cost them losses in market share; sadly that’s what drives most companies, but the tides of change are upon us. 


It’s important to note however that most vegan leather is still made of or contains some form of plastic. As we highlight in “plastic is not so fantastic”, plastics are made of fossil fuels and do not biodegrade. Fortunately, researchers, scientists, and innovators have been hard at work creating vegan leather that is actually sustainable. Check out our list of eight bio-materials that we were shocked yet excited to find in the booming vegan leather industry. 


There is Mushroom in Our Hearts 

Bolt Threadsis a startup company that’s specialized in growing next generation fibers that are inspired by nature. Although the startup is best known for creating Microsilk, a polymer bioengineered to mimic spider silk, the company has recently debuted a handbag made from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms.


Always Strive for Grapeness 

Vegea is an Italian company that has developed vegan leather made entirely from grapes and waste products of the wine industry. Last year, H&M launched an entire collection with Vegea, and Bentley has even used grape leather to line the interior of its 100th anniversary car.


Let’s Live Apple-y Ever After 

Frumat is an Italian company that is based in the north of Italy, a region known for the production of apples. The company has engineered a bio-based leather alternative using the apple industry’s food waste, including the peel and the core of apples.


You’re Berry Special 

Gunas is an American handbag company that uses 100% vegan leather in all of its designs. Recently, they launched Moby, the first unisex bag that was made by artisans in South Korea using layers of handmade paper coated with Mulberry tree leaf pulp.  


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I’m Coconuts about You 

Malai is an Indian company started by product designers, mechanical engineers and fashion designers. Partnering with local coconut farmers, the company collects their waste coconut water that would otherwise be dumped and has transformed it into a bio-composite material with a leather feel.


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Don’t pine for me 

Piñatex is a natural, non-woven leather alternative that is made from the cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves. Piñatex is certainly a fan favorite and has been featured in the product lines of Puma, Hugo Boss and even Chanel! Also, #womanboss alert: Dr. Carmen Hijosa developed Piñatex at the age of 62, while undertaking her PhD at the Royal College of Art in London. She is a trailblazing entrepreneur that has won numerous innovation awards. You can find her Ted Talk here.


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Always shake your boochy 

Bulgarian-born fashion designer Galina Mihaleva has recently created vegan leather using kombucha, the fizzy probiotic drink that all of us love.


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Be-Leaf in Yourself 

Nuvi Nomad is a Frankfurt company that sells vegan leather products that are made from teak leaves sustainably sourced and handpicked by farmers in Chiang Mai.

Can you believe that disgards of everyday fruits, vegetables and other plants are at the frontier of eco-friendly innovation? It’s true that luxury designers have been slower to embrace leather alternatives, understandably so because leather is considered an item of luxury. Nevertheless, let’s not forget that the most successful companies are those that dared to pioneer, those that were disruptive, and those that didn’t always take the well trodden path. 

Did you know that Tesla’s Luxury Model 3 interior is 100% vegan? From its seats to the steering wheel, the entire car is leather free! Kudos, Elon. 

Now, it’s your turn to demand all this creative change to be accessible to everyone, especially from the fashion industry.  

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.