meatless 8shades 8 weeks

8-Week Challenge: 8 Benefits of Going Meatless

Veganism and vegetarianism are becoming more popular, as people become aware of the health benefits of going meatless.

However, this may not be possible for many people – instead, scaling back on the amount of meat you consume would still be beneficial. For the final week of the #8Shades8Weeks challenge, we’re asking you to do just that and show us your delicious meatless meals. With the prize being a hamper from Green Common, you don’t want to miss out, so sign up here!

Whether you’re looking to commit to a fully meatless lifestyle, or you’re just a little curious, here are eight benefits to going meatless. 


1.

Protect the Planet

Not only does animal livestock production represent nearly 20% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, it also contributes to soil and water contamination. Besides this, the farming of animals uses a lot of water and land – it takes more than 1,700 litres to produce just 113 grams of beef! Even the UN believes that the farming and eating of meat contributes to climate change


2.

Improve Your Health

Reducing the amount of meat you eat has so many health benefits! Did you know that eating red meat increases your risks for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers? On the other end, replacing meat with more plant-based foods will give you even more health benefits. Skipping just half a serving of meat and replacing it with a protein-packed meatless dish can cut your risk of developing Type-2 diabetes. 

Also, doubling your intake of veggies and cutting your intake of red meat would help mitigate global health issues, like obesity and everyday hunger. 

Finally, compared to fresh produce and grains, meat is dense in calories so if you are looking to lose weight, cutting back on meat could help with this.


3.

You’ll Get to Try New (Delicious) Plant-Based Foods

Forget what you’ve been told – plant-based foods don’t have to be boring! There’s plenty of restaurants that are now creating delicious plant-based menus; from vegan-friendly fast food options to fine dining experiences.

You can also create your own plant-based feasts at home, perhaps by incorporating one new ingredient per meal. For inspiration, follow plant-based foodies on social media, or buy a new cookbook!

beyond meat burger

4.

It’s Easier Than Ever

Cutting back on meat doesn’t need to be complicated or mean that you need a meat substitute. Other ways to go meatless include increasing your intake of:

  • Nut butter
  • Legumes
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Rice and beans
  • Quinoa

Also, if you’re not quite ready to completely let go of meat, you don’t have to; with the help of plant-based alternatives like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (that taste almost identical to “real” meat), you can make your favourite meals plant-based!

See also: Where To Get Your Omega-3’S In A Post-Seaspiracy World

benefits of going meatless

5.

It’s More Ethical (For Animals and Humans!)

Most commercially farmed animals have short and terrible lives before they are processed into meat. Even products labelled “free-range” aren’t always a guarantee that the animals are treated humanely. We don’t want to guilt you into going fully meatless, but every little bit makes a difference and will have huge benefits. 

Animal livestock doesn’t only affect animals, though. Did you know that seafood is one of the most exploitative industries? Reports have shown that the global fishing industry uses forced labour and other human rights abuses. 

piglet on a farm

6.

It Could Help You Look Younger

Meat, especially red meats and processed lunchmeats, can cause inflammation in your body, which can lead to less collagen and elastin in your skin. These two proteins help make your skin supple, moist and resilient. With time, too much inflammation in your body can cause your skin to look dry and wrinkled. 


7.

You’ll Sleep Better

Cutting back on meat could improve your sleep! Eating a lot of animal products can cause high blood pressure, which can cause stress and anxiety, affecting your sleep. Conversely, eating more plant-based foods can help promote healthy sleep; kale, almonds, broccoli, sweet potatoes and spinach and others all contain vitamin B6, magnesium and tryptophan, all of which contribute to deep sleep. 


8.

You’ll Be Helping Fight World Hunger

Producing meat is super resource-intensive and wasteful- the amount of grain used to feed US livestock every year could feed 800 million people!

Producing animal products also uses a lot of water- 3,140 litres to produce one hamburger, to be precise! If people simply ate more plants and less meat, the global food system would be much more efficient and we could feed so many more people, helping to end world hunger!


You don’t need to make massive changes to your diet that interfere with your normal routine or stress you out; instead, you can just do a “Meatless Monday” or replace a few meals a week! Small changes can make a huge difference – to our health, the planet and other living things on this planet.

See also: Join The 8Shades 8-Week Challenge!

8-week Challenge: 8 Plant-based Milk Alternatives

8 Weeks 

8 Challenges 

8 Giveaways 

Click here to enter week 2 and find out more now!

Welcome to our second “challenge” on how you can take small and intentional steps towards a greener future. Enter above to be in with a chance of winning a huge gift box of the best healthy snacks from our friends at Coco Paradise, along with a fab Keep Cup to make sure we’re helping you stay healthy and sustainable at the same time.

This week (21st June) we are encouraging you to take one greener step towards being more eco-friendly by bringing your own reusable cup next time you leave the house. 

We’ve all become so accustomed to buying our morning joe (or whatever your tipple might be) from our favourite local coffee shop, that we forget the impact this simple habit has on the environment. Taking your own cup can mitigate a heavy burden not only on our environment but on your conscience too. 

The staple side-kick to our drinks and breakfast; milk, is also often forgotten. The impact of the dairy industry on the environment is staggering but thankfully we are now blessed with so many milk alternatives for our drinks, smoothies and cereals that it’s hard to choose!

Now, not every alternative is 100% eco-friendly. Some do pose a burden on the environment in their own rite, often as a result of over-reliance and therefore over-farming, this is why it’s good to switch it up often and stay open-minded. 

HERE ARE OUR 8 FAVOURITE MILK ALTERNATIVES – some are readily available in coffee shops and others in supermarkets.


  1. Oat Milk – By now I’m sure we’ve all heard of or tried oat milk. Oatly is the first brand to dream this innovation into existence and it’s still our favourite dairy alternative being readily available in most supermarkets. 
  1. Almond Milk – Another widely available alternative. Although almond milk has high water and pesticide requirements, it’s a good ‘sometimes’ alternative to traditional dairy or your other vegan milk. We don’t like pesticides so prefer to buy organic from Rude Health which is available in Fusion. 
  1. Soya Milk – Soya is abundant but can also be burdensome on the environment unless you choose organic. We like The Bridge Bio because they use organic soya beans from Italy. 
  1. Cashew Milk – This can be some of the ‘creamiest’ milk out of all the dairy alternatives. Especially delicious mixed with breakfast recipes like cereals. Another Rude Health favourite. Widely found in Fusion and Marketplace. 
  1. Quinoa Milk – A nice un-mass produced milk that actually tastes surprisingly good! Another good one from The Bridge Bio. Available in most Marketplace’s. 
  1. Rice Milk – A simple and readily available alternative with many available brands. The only challenge is finding one with clean ingredients and few additives. Another Rude Health favourite. 
  1. Coconut Milk – We love to make coconut milk fresh and it takes little time. With coconuts readily available in Hong Kong all year round its easy to pick-up a nut, crack it open, drain the water and scoop out the meat straight into your blender and blend on high for a few minutes! Simple. 
  1. Hemp Milk – Another easy one to make at home but sometimes convenience is key. This is lesser seen and therefore fewer options available. We prefer to make our own but otherwise we will go with Pacific Foods, available in most supermarkets. 

Watch out for unnecessary additives, flavours and preservatives. 

Sometimes you just can’t avoid oils but always check for an oil free alternative.

Now, don’t forget your cup, let’s play!

Have you got Eco Fatigue? Maybe it’s time to take a chill pill

Have you ever looked at the plastic cutlery that came uninvited with your takeaway and felt a sense of guilt? Concerned that one day these plastics may make their way into the ocean and assault an innocent sea turtle after leaving your hands? 

Have you ever placed your finger on a light switch as you exit the room, knowing turning the light off is probably the right thing to do, but decided not to because some professor from some university says switching electricity on and off is actually worse for the environment?

There is so much information and pressure on the internet about saving our planet. We’re constantly bombarded with new statistics and studies that sometimes contradict the old. We can’t seem to escape the passive-aggressive marketing tactics that induce nothing but shame and anxiety.

But as they say at 8Shades: “every small step counts”. So we carry on and keep contributing in our own little ways. And oh, just when we’re about to pat ourselves on the backs for bringing our own new refillable water bottle to the gym, we hear three alphabets: BPA – and all of a sudden we’re regretting our decisions because despite our eco intention, despite how fit we are, drinking out of the wrong bottle could still give us cancer.


Enter “eco fatigue”.

Eco fatigue (or eco anxiety) is a type of learned helplessness, which is a negative state of mind that arises when a person feels they have no control over events and situations, according to an American psychologist named Martin Seligman. This feeling is what makes people turn away from a problem that cries for action. In this case, the action would be to save the planet.

The unknown of the new eco realm. The growing uncertainty about the effectiveness of our individual acts. Plus the nagging fear that our efforts will never be enough. Suddenly, green is starting to look like grey, and we feel so overwhelmed that we end up doing nothing. 

It’s natural to want to tune out. And when eco fatigue strikes, perhaps the best way to shut it down is with a chill pill, and a gentle reminder to not to be so harsh on ourselves. It’s going to be a long haul, so it’s okay if someone accidentally prints single-sided, it’s okay if someone forgets to wash their duvet at 30 degrees. If you jump off the bandwagon, just hop right back on and keep going (until the official cure for eco fatigue comes along). 

Because anything is better than nothing. 

And every little step, does count. 

Take a walk on the wild side

Originated in Japan, forest bathing is an outdoor activity where people embark on a slow, aimless, and therapeutic walk in the forest. As sleazy as it may sound, studies have shown forest bathing can be very beneficial to our health and mental wellbeing. British doctors are even considering prescribing it to their patients! 

The Healing Power or Mother Nature

The minute we unplug from the hustle and bustle and immerse ourselves in the forest, we are greeted by a refreshing boost of oxygen, as well as a chemical released by the greens called phytoncides, which is known to enhance our immune system. And as we slow down our steps and let go of our thoughts, our heart rate and blood pressure will also drop to accommodate the relaxed state of mind. 

Research conducted by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a professor at Chiba University, shows a leisure walk in the forest can lower the production of cortisol (our stress hormones) by 12.4% compared to urban walks and therefore lower our anxiety. Spending time outdoors is also known to help increase serotonin and endorphins (our happy hormones), leading to better mood, better creativity, and better mental health. 

Now the next question is, how do we actually do “forest bathing”?


Let’s Take a Walk Through

According to The Nature and Forest Therapy Association, a typical forest bathing session will take about 2.5 hours, and the ideal locations are the ones that are easy and pleasant to walk on, have places for you to sit and rest, and have access to natural waterways. 

There are no rules really. Just wear comfortable clothes and shoes on the day. And remember to turn off your phone and switch on your five senses. 

Start your walk slowly, one step at a time. Take in the tranquillity. Notice the different shapes and shades of green. Press pause. Listen to the leaves rustling harmoniously. Feel your hand pulsating on a random tree trunk. Follow the tip of your nose as it traces the faint floral scent amongst the damp grass. 

When you start to feel distracted or tired, take a seat and rest for up to 20 minutes. Then plant your feet back on the ground. Surrender yourself to the gentle pull of gravity once again, and feel the crisp air lifting your spirit. Be present. Be mindful. Acknowledge what forest bathing has to offer, and take it all in. 


Find Out More

There are now about 1,500 accredited forest bathing guides worldwide, including Amanda Yik, founder of Shinrin Yoku Hong Kong. To discover more about forest bathing in Hong Kong and where to go, visit here.

Gua Sha, better than botox?

Over the last few years, gua sha has exploded in popularity. Much of the current “clout” surrounding gua sha has been driven by Hollywood Celebrities – from Jessica Alba to Margot Robbie to Justin Bieber – who now swear by gua sha. As one commentator has observed, gua sha has become one of the few Chinese phrases that Westerners can actually pronounce correctly. 

However, as most Hong Kongers know, gua sha is not just a celebrity-approved beauty trend. It is an ancient traditional Chinese practice that has been used by Eastern societies for thousands of years.

Source: Vogue

Many of us wake up with a puffy face, fact. And for those of us who enjoyed a few too many cocktails the night before, our faces may appear even puffier. Cue, baseball caps, our most oversized pair of sunglasses, and now how thankful are we to wear a mask everyday! Gua sha to the rescue: the hangover cure for your face. In less than ten minutes, you can reduce facial puffiness and inflammation, and even help stimulate collagen production, all the while staying within the comfort of your own home. 


Source: Moon Convos

Gua sha crystals come in many different shapes these days from hearts to butterflies. It all depends what you want to achieve. Here are some of our favourite picks from our friends over at Moon Convos who have just launched their awesome new gua sha range. 

We love gua sha because arguably, it has democratized skincare. You don’t need to spend an extravagant amount of money getting a bespoke gua sha facial. Instead, you can go on YouTube and parse through countless gua sha tutorial videos to learn and master the various facial-contouring techniques.

Newsflash: you don’t need the fanciest facial roller to maximize your gua sha routine. According to many dermatologists, any flat, grooved tool made of jade or other crystal can achieve the same effects.  


One of the more exciting features of gua sha is that it offers a natural alternative to Botox and fillers. At 8Shades, we believe that every woman should undergo whatever cosmetic procedure makes her feel the most confident in a way that’s free of judgment. As pop culture icon Britney Spears once sang, our body, our prerogative

Against this background, gua sha is being championed as an effective alternative to fillers. 

Source: liv-studios

It’s worth highlighting, however, that traditional uses of gua sha did not serve an aesthetic function, but a medical one: the scraping method was principally used to draw out bodily toxins. Like cupping and foot reflexology, gua sha is animated by yangsheng 「養生」which translates directly to “nourishing life”, a long-standing principle of Chinese medicine. In a society that flouts increasingly unattainable beauty standards, gua sha serves as a gentle reminder that “to be beautiful is to be healthy.” 

Bottled water is out, water filters are in

One of the greatest offenders of single-use plastic in this world is our old friend, or rather, foe; bottled water. 

Bottled water was first sold using glass containers way back in the day, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the use of plastic became prolific and thus entangled an entire generation into an addiction – an addition to convenience. 

What was once created out of sheer accessibility has now contributed in a colossal way to the destruction of our environment, land and sea. 


Source: theNewYorkTimes

Plastic filters aren’t the answer

The solution that followed spelt a huge shift in how we think about and consume water both at home and on the go. Reusable bottles began to come into fashion alongside those Brita filter jugs, which has ushered in a new cycle – replacing the plastic insert filters once a month as well as the flimsy plastic jug every so often. 


Source: Gafencu

A more sustainable alternative

For those with families, requiring a higher water volume on demand, the Berkey water filtration system is more than just a filter; it’s a complete water purification system that just sits on your countertop. Beyond filtering out all the regular nasties, it promises to obliterate almost all bacteria and viruses along with fluoride which is rare to find. A gravity-fed system means no electricity is required and the sleek, freestanding stainless steel vessels houses filters that only require changing once every three years.


Source: thecharcoalpeople

Natural charcoal filters are in

One of the most cost-effective, low-commitment filter options is charcoal, which binds to toxins present in water naturally, ridding it of substances such as copper, chlorine, mercury, pesticides, lead and VOCs. It is important, however, to note that they will not remove fluoride from water, which is often a concern. 

Once a charcoal stick has reached the end of its water-filtering life, it can find a second life as a refrigerator deodoriser or planted in soil to absorb more water into your plants. 

The 6 dimensions of wellness

The notion of sustainability, eco-living and the environment appears to be inextricably linked to the concept of wellness, and we couldn’t help but wonder; what exactly is wellness anyway?

It would be easy to assume wellness as an idea was some fever dream conjured up in a Californian desert in the last decade, but it is actually a modern concept with very ancient provenance. With both preventative and holistic measures as main principles of wellness, we can easily traces its origins back to ancient civilisations both in the East (China and India) and West (Greece and Rome).

Eventually, during the 19th century in the United States and Europe, the worlds of medical, religious and intellectual collided to work alongside conventional medicine to provide us with what we have come to know as wellness today. 


Wellness today

A focus on natural, holistic approaches, prevention and self-healing has continued to guide us in the 21st century. What was once considered niche, has now infiltrated into the mainstream and can be said, has a place in practically all areas of life. 

According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is…

“A conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential. It is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment. It is positive and affirming.” 

The Six Dimensions of Wellness, coined by Bill Hettler, incorporate:

Source: northwestern.edu

1.

Physical: Healthy bodies achieved through thoughtful exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.

2.

Mental: Engagement with the world through education, problem-solving, creativity, etc.

3.

Emotional: Increased emotional intelligence via awareness of, accepting of, and an ability to express one’s feelings (and those of others).

4.

Spiritual: Our continuous search for meaning and purpose in human existence.

5.

Social: Connecting with, interacting with, and contributing to other people and our communities.

6.

Environmental: A healthy physical environment free of hazards; a great awareness of the role we play in bettering rather than diminishing the natural environment.


What these six aspects have in common, is a multidimensional agreement that one has to stay as close to their true self as possible, and work on increasing their awareness across all six categories. When it comes to leading a more sustainable lifestyle, perhaps the number one most important trait is, you guessed it; awareness.

It is with this awareness that allows us to live a more meaningful life day to day and also on a larger scale; for example, working harder for our environment and the future of sustainability can help us live more authentically and with purpose. These simple acts often leave us with positive feelings and emotions.

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!


Grow Your Own Way

Gardening isn’t just for those with access to outdoor space; indeed, as urban dwellers, we need to find nifty ways to make use of our more compact, mostly indoor spaces. Not only is it utterly satisfying to unearth your green fingers – pun intended – but it can also vastly improve your day-to-day life and help save the environment.

For starters, anything that gets us off our phones is considered a winner! There is something incredibly rewarding about creating things with your very own hands and watching the fruits of your labour flourish (oops I punned again). A guaranteed stress reliever, it’ll give your weary brain a break from daily stressors as you concentrate on the task at hand. You can make it a solo or a team effort – get the kids involved.

When it comes to what you should grow, let’s start off slowly. An herb garden is simple: there’s minimal commitment in terms of “real estate” and upkeep; it’s cost-effective; and it says goodbye to that nasty plastic packaging shop-bought herbs come in. Plus, how can you beat the freshness? The easiest herbs to grow indoors include parsley, coriander, chives, basil and thyme. Moreover, sprouting is even easier and it’s even more cost effective!  Another perk is that sprouting increases vitamin B and C and also the fibre content…. talk about benefits!

So, take your pick from seeds, legumes and beans, with mung beans, alfalfa and lentils being the best for beginners.  But you can pretty much sprout anything – from Chia seeds to onions, and even chickpeas or kale…if you’re feel a bit more adventurous!

The Responsible Alcoholic

Once in a while I do enjoy a fun night out… especially a girls night out when you can really let loose.

I have been thinking for a while now about how I can be more sustainable in my habits, which include my regular social activities.  To be honest, drinking is definitely one of my most enjoyable “habits”. Conversations about alcohol almost always focuses on safe alcohol consumption, which is certainly important. What’s missing however is any mention about sustainable alcohol consumption.

As a strong believer of the “power of the dollar,” I thought about my consumption trends to see where opportunities may exist – and of course, alcohol is definitely an important aspect.  

Let’s be honest, the holiday season is here and yes, I am not going to lie: I do enjoy drinking (responsibly).  From attending wine tastings with my husband, to trying fun cocktail recipes with my friends, to have a refreshing beer while catching up on college football games, I enjoy all types of fun (and safe) drinking (and it’s such a great way to unwind after the kids go to bed 😉 !  The glass of wine I pour for myself after the kids goes to bed feels like a well deserved award that I have earned and sometimes I reward myself a few times (glasses) over.    

So I thought I’d start by sharing a bit about what I’ve been learning about “sustainable” drinking. I read through many articles and chatted with some of my friends who are more knowledgeable with the alcohol manufacturing process and found that some major focuses include:

  • Water management – the amount of water that’s used, as well as where the water is sourced (whether from water scarce locations or not); 
  • Energy management – the amount of energy consumed during the manufacturing process and the type of energy (renewable or traditional grid energy);
  • Packaging materials – the amount of packaging that’s used and whether these materials are recyclable or not.

Of course there are other considerations including employee health and safety, sourcing of other raw materials (i.e., grapes for wine, wheat/barley for beers and liquors, etc.); and there are certainly no ‘easy’ or simple choices as it depends on the company’s policies and practices and also what may be most/more important to you (i.e., water usage vs. packaging materials, etc.) and of course carbon foot print.  

From what I’ve gathered, drinking locally is best – it minimizes the transportation impact on the environment, it generally involves greater use of local materials, and of course, it supports your community! Everyone has their drink of choice and there is no easy, perfectly sustainable choice per se. But here are some considerations that I thought were interesting to share:

  • Wine uses less water than beer and liquor, but leaves a bigger environmental footprint through the transportation process;
  • Local breweries for beers are the best. For imported beers (requires far traveling), cans may be better than bottle (lighter) and typically easier to recycle;
  • Liquor’s distillation process is probably the most energy and water consuming of all, but depending on the company’s policies and practices, there can be room for improvement in terms of reducing its environmental impacts.

So next time when you are thinking about grabbing a drink, think about some of the considerations before making a selection. It would be ideal to drink responsibly in a personal and environmental way!