Appetite for veganism grows in China

China 24

Meat has long been a staple of Chinese meals.

But more people are now consuming vegetables.

A report from Alibaba suggests vegetable consumption grew by nearly half during this past Spring Festival — compared with last year’s.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo shows us how China is embracing the vegan diet.

Chaniece Brackeen co-founded the Vegans of Shanghai in 2016, intending to promote the idea of eating more green foods and making them available in innovative ways.

The vegan club now claims over 2,000 active members, and holds regular vegan challenges asking participants not to eat any animal-based foods for two weeks.

“We just started with our first vegan challenge in July last year,” said Brackeen.  “Over 1,200 signed up for challenge and it lasted two weeks. We already networked with 50 businesses to make the challenge a reality.”

Brackeen said she is finding more and more vegan restaurants in at least the first tier cities of China, like Shanghai.

She said Shanghai is now home to more than 100 restaurants offering vegan options, and that there are some 1,000 similar restaurants nationwide.

They don’t lack for customers.

Some said cooking vegetables is faster than meat, and cheaper.

Others point out that many innovative products mimic the taste and look of meat products, for those who still crave it.

An increasing number of green food companies are riding the green wave.  JUST, a green food start-up, produces these eggs … made from green beans. They plan to introduce them to China in the first quarter of the year, and has sales agreements with major online retailers.

The sales growth of China’s vegan industry is expected to grow by more than 17 percent between 2015 and 2020, according to research firm Euromonitor.

“The demand (for meat and eggs) continues to grow but the land isn’t growing,” said Josh Tetrick, Founder & CEO of JUST.  “You certainly don’t have more land or water, but you have more people eating. So how do you satisfy that? So I think the way to do that is innovation, is to thinking more differently and sustainably, and even in a more moral way.”

For fans worldwide, being vegan is about a healthier body and planet.

“It definitely is rising in popularity,” said Joyce de Brevannes, Marketing Director for Erewhon Organic Grocer and Café. “Whether people are deciding to go vegan for ethical reasons, for health reasons, or because of climate change concerns, we definitely are seeing more and more people, probably not going all the way vegan but definitely incorporating more vegan items into their diet. So I think regardless of why they’re doing it, it’s a good thing.”

Christine Lusita discusses veganism in China

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes talks with Christine Lusita, a celebrity health and fitness expert, about veganism in China.