Going vegan might stave off global warming, but it isn’t always easy. The lack of access to good, affordable plant-based dishes and ingredients is often a high barrier to entry, even in Singapore.
Hong Kong-based social venture Green Monday hopes to bridge the gap. They’ve just launched Green Common, a 3,000-square-foot concept store and restaurant in VivoCity that’s billed as a “one-stop shop” for all things plant-based.
The Banh Mi Bowl and Hainanese Trick'en Rice from Green Common.
There, guests can find vegan versions of classic Asian and Western dishes: Think vegan chicken rice (aptly named “Hainanese Trick’en Rice”) and pizza topped with hearty chunks of mock meat and dairy-free cheese. Mains cost an average of $15, while appetisers — like the Omni luncheon fries and mock crab cakes — start from $8.
The restaurant is also home to a curated grocery section, which stocks over 50 plant-based products from brands like Heura Foods, Unlimeat and the now-ubiquitous Beyond Meat. Green Common also carries OmniEat, Green Monday’s own range of vegan-friendly mock meats, which has been touted as Asia’s answer to Beyond Meat.
Founder David Yeung says that the appetite for plant-based food has grown exponentially in Asia within the last few years.
“In Hong Kong, we just did a study that [found that] 79 per cent of people are very receptive to trying plant-based meat — that’s a huge uptick from just two to three years ago, when this was a completely novel concept,” says Yeung.
The K-Dog and Strawberry Tower from Green Common.
Yeung had been a vegetarian for close to a decade when he founded Green Monday in 2012. “Turning to a plant-based diet was a personal choice, until I found out about all the environmental impacts that the livestock industry has on our planet,” he says.
He is referring to the 2019 findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which estimates that 23 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, livestock, and the land needed to raise them. The same study also describes plant-based diets as “major opportunities” to help “reduce risks from climate change”.
Yeung hopes that the newly-opened Green Common store in Singapore will help normalise sustainable diets in the city state. “We want to see affordable and appealing (plant-based) choices available to the public,” he says. “That will empower them to make the best choices for the good of both themselves and the planet.”
As climatologist Hans-Otto Pörtner, the co-chair of the IPCC’s Working Group II, says: “We don’t want to tell people what to eat, but it would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat.”
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