SUSTAINABILITY MONTHLY MEET UP – SERVE MORE VEG AND BETTER MEAT: 21 JUNE 2022
Food Made Good HK President Richard Ekkebus, SpiceBox Organics Founder Punam Chopra, Food Made Good HK CEO Heidi Spurrell
By Jade Chen
Illuminated by the soft sunbeams streaming in from the venue’s window walls, July’s monthly meet-up (moved earlier to June) took place against the elegant backdrop of the Mandarin Grill+Bar – Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Overlooking the sleepy, soon-to-be-filled streets of Central, our guests began streaming in early in the morning, grabbing cups of cappuccinos and espressos to sip on whilst mingling with fellow Future Green Members. After settling into their seats (and picking a pastry of choice from the Mandarin Grill+Bar’s delightful bread baskets), we dove straight into this month’s topic: Serve More Veg and Better Meat.
KARANA and the Classic Fine Foods Team
A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Currently, around 29% of global greenhouse gases are attributable to our food systems. Of these, around half can be attributed to livestock food production. It’s no surprise, therefore, that climate action and diet change must come hand in hand: unless we drastically transform what we eat and how it gets on our plate, we risk continuing to exacerbate the already-dire climate crisis.
Continuing with our current food system is for sure a recipe for disaster. Without intervention, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are likely to increase about 30 to 40% by 2050 (due to increasing demand from a growing population and rising incomes) (IPCC, 2020). To feed the world’s mouths, we will need to shift to more sustainable farming practices and diets, reduce meat and dairy and explore alternatives to the foods we currently indulge in.
Rebecca Chan with Raul Tronco Calahorra & Heidi Spurrell
NO MORE MEAT?
Yet this month’s theme isn’t about abandoning meat. At least in the near future, livestock farming is here to stay — it’s an important source of income and a key source of nutrition. Instead, our meet-up this month advocates for a different approach to protein, empowering foodservice businesses to choose better meat (not all meat is created equal!) and begin to explore more plant-based cooking and sourcing.
Whether it be dedicating a day for eating plant-based foods, incorporating simple and planet-friendly food swaps, or hopping on to the rising trend of plant-based alternatives, there are plenty of ways that restaurants and foodservice businesses can involve themselves in the food sustainability movement.
Mandarin Grill + Bar
MENUS WITH A TWIST?
First up today was Chef De Cuisine Simon Guthridge at Mandarin Grill + Bar, who stepped in to share how chefs like him can address sustainability within and beyond the kitchen. Menu choice is key, Simon argues, as he shares a snapshot of his regular and vegetarian tasting menus side by side on the screen. Both sound equally delicious and, by giving diners more choice, Simon prompts his customers to think twice, reinventing the traditional meat-heavy ‘grill’ experience. Moreover, Simon strives to highlight what Hong Kong has to offer, shouting out his local partners and celebrating local produce to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.
Through several other initiatives, Simon and his team continue to turn food into a force for good, collaborating with the Sovereign Art Foundation to raise money for children from low-income families. Sustainable seafood menus celebrating World Ocean Day, as well as a sustainable cocktail menu curated in partnership with Ecospirits, are continuing to redefine what sustainability in the food industry can look like.
Simon Guthridge of Mandarin Grill + Bar
A NATURAL CHOICE
For a supplier perspective of this month’s theme, we invited Juan Facundo Fernandez and Joyce Ngai from Classic Fine Foods to share their experience with sustainability. Juan noted that 23% of consumers today are eating more plant-based foods at restaurants than they did a year ago, demonstrating why a shift towards more plant-based foods — which also boast environmental and animal-welfare benefits — should be a no-brainer for the foodservice industry.
Facundo Fernandez of Classic Fine Foods
As one of the pioneers in today’s alternative meat industry, Jessica Yam from KARANA (a Food Made Good HK member) stepped in to offer her insights and introduced an unexpected star of the show: jackfruit. With ingredients that you can count with your fingers, Karana’s plant-based ‘pork’ features young jackfruit, boasting a meat-like texture, nutritional benefits and of course a whole host of benefits for the local land and community.
Another plant-based alternative on the market is TiNDLE (another fellow Food Made Good HK member): with 88% less greenhouse gas emissions, 74% less land use and 82% less water use, TiNDLE’s plant-based chicken is yet another innovative alternative.
Jessica Yam of KARANA
THE MEAT AND POTATOES
Just like Simon, Juan stresses the importance of choice, stating that restaurants should always have tasty vegetarian options on their menu so that customers aren’t conflicted. He mentions that people love new ideas— especially when they taste incredible.
A balance between meat and alternative protein is the way forward, Juan argues. The way in which livestock is raised can have a drastic effect on its impacts on the animal and environment. To visualise the disparities between different modes of farming, Juan shares images of two different landscapes, comparing how they influence land and communities. The right meat, he says, does have a place in a sustainable food system.
A spirited Q&A session rounded off the meet-up nicely, and guests were once again invited to mix and mingle. In a room of active pioneers, everyone had something exciting to share— and of course, lots to learn and discover. As they polished off the last of the pastries, guests happily chatted away, acquainting themselves with fellow Food Made Good HK Members to discuss their takeaways and share their experiences.
Paul Gardner of Fresh Accounting
The Sustainability Meet-Up Series is a monthly gathering designed to educate and empower the Hong Kong foodservice community – chefs, restaurateurs, FOH, BOH, suppliers and sustainability leads.
Inspired by our framework, the programme is curated to inspire the community, in novel ways through which they can bring in small but significant changes to their sourcing choices, menu design, supplies, just to name a few. We will be organising talks and activities delivered by sustainable food industry leaders, on various themes linked to UN International Days and our three pillars – Sourcing, Society and the Environment.
This content was created prior to our rebranding to Future Green, as of 28/11/22, when we were known as Food Made Good HK.
Interested in more?
6 steps to turning messy ideas into concrete next steps with The British Chamber of Commerce3rd November
From Healthy Kids Menu to Asian-Inspired Delights: SpiceBox Organics Revamps Catering Services, Championing Sustainability and Clean Eating in Hong Kong12th October