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David Yeung on Green Monday: a meat-less, more-veg mission

For those who have a penchant to become a green consumer but are not yet ready to sacrifice that drool-inducing bone marrow or juicy grilled tomahawk, apply the Green Monday practice to your week and have a ‘meat-less, more-veg’ day for not only better health, but also to help curb global climate change. If you weren’t in the know already, animal agriculture has a significant impact to climate crisis due to the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and the use of natural resources for farming.

Aiming to encourage society as a whole to jam in and collectively foster a sustainable future together, Green Monday, an environmental venture founded by David Yeung, was born in Hong Kong to promote the non-consumption of meat one day a week.

A plant-based eater himself, David Yeung is in his 18th year of being a vegan, and is an inspiring go-green advocate – evidenced in the running of the Green Monday movement. These consist of Green Common, Hong Kong’s gumptious vegan food enclave, and OmniMeat, which is a plant-based meat alternative.

Having succeeded in Hong Kong, the Green Monday campaign has finally touched down here in Bangkok with the goal to eliminate meat consumption starting with capital city dwellers, who are most likely the country’s trendsetters.

And although Bangkok is not truly moments away from a meat-free era, the city is gradually getting into the practice of eating less meat, as seen in the rising number of plant-based eaters as well as vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Even meat-focused eateries have set foot in the green movement by featuring a small selection of plant-based eats in their menus, too.

With the introduction of David Yeung’s Green Monday and the employ of OmniMeat’s products in many big-name restaurants and hotels (Baan, Sizzler, Veganerie, Coffee Beans by Dao, Grand Hyatt Erawan, and more), urbanites are readily served with a purpose and convenient, affordable, and yet tasty plant-based meals.

To understand more about Green Monday and its products, we sat down and chat with David Yeung in a go-green talk. Read all about his insights and thoughts in this full and exclusive interview below.

Can you tell us a little more about the core concept and missions of Green Monday?

There are many problems our world is facing: climate change, food insecurity, public health issues, and population explosion. The nexus of these urgent global crises is the food industry, or more specifically our overconsumption of meat. The Green Monday movement was established to provide a common platform that institutions and individuals can join to contribute to sustainability and health. We chose Monday because it is symbolic to a new beginning.

What do you think is the role of wholesome and sustainable food to a community?

Climate change is real. Our global food supply chain is flawed and unsustainable. It is only a matter of time before this vulnerable system collapses in a big way. As our global population continues to grow, people will have no choice but to wake up and realise they need solutions, and healthier, sustainable alternatives.

What inspired you to start this social venture?

Turning to a plant-based diet was a personal choice until I found out more than a decade ago about all the environmental impact the livestock industry has on our planet and future generations, and the urgency of the sustainability and climate crisis we are facing. It is like discovering that one side of the house is already on fire, yet on the other side people are still partying or chilling. It is simply human nature that one would try to use his or her power to get people either to put out the fire or to escape. The latest UN IPCC report revealed we only have a 12-year window remaining before irreversible climate catastrophe.

You were not a vegetarian until you went to school in New York. What inspired you to change?

I have never been a big meat eater, but I decided to turn vegetarian 18 years ago as I didn’t want to cause more suffering to any sentient beings.

What are the products of Green Monday?

Green Monday group partners with global plant-based leaders such as Beyond Meat, Daiya, Califia Farms, and Alpha Foods, as well as our own brand OmniMeat to bring a full range of impressive and tasty options to consumers. We are firm believers of advocating and empowering diet change to combat climate change.

Bangkok is slowly yet eagerly getting into the practice of green consumption, in what area do you think the products of Green Monday will influence the lifestyle of city dwellers?

Many people, especially millennials and Gen Zs, are becoming very health and environmental conscious, so our products and lifestyle will play a huge role in empowering them in such change. Meanwhile, we are in the process of developing a wide range of ready meals for city dwellers who are time-starved. Ultimately we strive to offer products and services that can offer taste, convenience, and affordability.

What is your perspective on the social view of veganism/vegetarianism as a trend?

The flexitarian population has skyrocketed, say, in the case of Hong Kong, from 5% before Green Monday was established, to now 24% of the HK population, with people practising one or multiple days of a plant-based diet.  The global consumption of dairy and meat is plummeting, as there is this exploding demand for brands such as Beyond Meat, Califia, Oatly, and so on. These are ultimate evidence that once people have the awakening, and the market provides appealing and innovative options, people are more than willing and ready to switch.

How do you see plant-based food and products in the future market?

The popularity of plant-based eating, in general, is rising dramatically, evidenced by the growing number of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in town, as well as the growing green menus in regular restaurants. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the threat of climate change is growing. So is the fear of food safety concern, especially African Swine Fever. Change is no longer optional but a must. Given such macro background, 2019 and onwards will continue to provide plenty of room and opportunities for sustainability-related innovations.

In your opinion, how do you think sustainable, plant-based food can make a good impact on climate change?

Agtech and foodtech are critical in addressing global food insecurity. Through these innovations, it is about producing food much more efficiently in terms of resource and water consumption, while minimising pollution and carbon emission.

From your recent interviews, you mentioned that food is the easy step into getting people into green consumer practice. What do you see as the next step for Green Monday?

While Green Monday is off to a good start in terms of changing mindset and behavior, much more work still needs to be done to sustain that change. So the offering of exciting innovative plant-based options such as Beyond Meat, OmniMeat and others as solutions will be critical.

Last but not least, what is your most favourite way to cook OmniMeat?

I have an endless craving for dumplings and dim sum. So I am always touched when I get to eat my comfort food with OmniMeat.

Kankanit Wichiantanon
Writer, Bangkok
Kankanit is a writer by day and a baker by night. If there’s one thing you should know about her, it’s that she can wax poetic about food 24/7. Her daily routine is writing, cooking, eating, repeat. They are the things that inspire her from morning 'til night.