5 Reasons Plant-Based Will Be Unleashed In Asia

By David Yeung 18 July, 2019

Are you ready for Asia's plant-based revolution? David Yeung, Founder & CEO of Green Monday, says it is coming soon

The food industry is experiencing some serious disruption & investors are waking up to it; the record-shattering listing of Beyond Meat sent shockwave around the world
Influence from the West is pushing plant-based in Asia though in HK & Singapore it is already happening; seeing strong momentum of plant-based brands
The climate & food crisis = opportunity, especially with undeserved demand led by Millennials & Gen Z; only a matter of time before our food system collapses

Being an investor and Asian distribution partner of Beyond Meat since its early days, I have the honor to take a front-row seat on their epic IPO. There is no doubt the record-shattering listing of BYND sent shockwave around the world, as people suddenly awaken to the disruption happening in the food industry. In the past few days, I along with the Green Monday/Green Common team have been receiving an overwhelming number of media, investor and general public enquiries about the outlook of the plant-based industry, especially here in Asia. While many remain skeptical whether the momentum will be carried over to Asia, here are five reasons I believe the phenomenon is about to be unleashed in this region in a big way.

1. Influence from Western Trend: From fashion to wellness to overall lifestyle, Asian consumers are strongly influenced by Western aspirational brands and trends. The time-lag varies country-by-country, but in the age of social media, it is unlikely to take long. Given how plant-based is officially disrupting the global food industry and consumer behavior, it is not exactly a bold prediction to foresee Asia picking up the trend very soon.

Asia is picking up the trend; HK & Singapore already happening

In the case of Hong Kong and Singapore, it is already happening, as new-age titans Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods make regular headlines and take mainstream food scene by storm.

2. Proven Momentum of Plant-Based Brands: As Green Common introduces emerging brands in the Food 2.0 space not just in Hong Kong but also in Singapore, Taiwan and soon China and Thailand, we witness first-hand how the likes of Beyond Meat, Gardein, Daiya and Califia are swiftly gaining tremendous traction. Beyond Meat sales in this region has tripled every year since its launch in 2015. Omnipork, which targets Asian palettes and cuisines, has been incredibly well received since its launch. Non-dairy brands such as Oatly and Califia are natural fit and instant hit because many Asians are lactose-intolerant. Daiya and Miyoko’s are constantly surprising us on the positive side with its growing fan base.

3. Ramp-up in Investment & Innovation: Few years ago most people were wondering why Bill Gates, Li Ka-shing and Temasek invested in the “Future Food” industry. Not one single soul predicted the store and distribution network of Green Common to grow this fast in such short period of time (many in fact were predicting our demise).

Investors & entrepreneurs are waking up to the urgency of the climate & food crisis and the opportunities that come with it

Today investors and entrepreneurs, along with certain governments are waking up to the urgency of the climate and food crisis and the opportunities that come with it.The awareness and activity level in the region is noticeably ramping up over the past 6 months. As more capital and resources come in, it will certainly lead to exciting breakthroughs and innovations.

4. Existing but Underserved Demand: Vegetarianism isn’t exactly a new thing in Asia. The demand for plant-based food due to religious, cultural and ethnic reasons has always been here. India of course has the biggest vegetarian population in the world. Countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia all have huge Buddhist population. It wasn’t until the infusion of Western meat-and-dairy-heavy culture that led people to drift away from such traditions. Vegetarianism began to get a bad rap as old-fashioned, boring and un-nutritious. Now the narrative is turning 180 degrees.

Millennials & Gen Z’s are consciously turning vegan for animal, sustainability & health reasons

Millennials and Gen Z’s are the ones who are consciously turning vegan for animal, sustainability and health reasons. The religious/ethnic folks who have always preferred plant-based are still here as they enthusiastically embrace these long-awaited new food options.


5. “Black Swan” for Industrial Animal Farming: Pork is the most consumed meat in China, making up of 65% of meat consumption by its 1.4 billion population. With the deadly and high contagious African Swine Fever threatening hundreds of millions of pigs, all signs are pointing to a potential devastating “perfect storm” of industrial animal farming.

The reality is that the animal protein-oriented food supply chain is unsustainable and has been stretched way beyond its breaking point for a long time. The planet and the outdated food system simply cannot keep up with insatiable human population growth and demand. It is only a matter of time before it collapses, and that time may be NOW.

“It is only a matter of time before it collapses…”



Further Reading

  • Role Of Businesses In Water Conservation – With the backdrop of Singapore’s industrial water challenges, Professor Asit Biswas & Dr Cecilia Tortajada show what Unilever & Nestle are doing on water management but also the behavioural challenges they face
  • Can Loop’s 21st Century Milkman Fix Plastic Plague – Called the 21st Century milkman, is Loop’s circular shipping platform the answer to our planets massive plastic problem? Corporate Knight’s Adria Vasil explores
  • Organic Agriculture Can Fight Climate Change – Organic agriculture is so much more than no pesticides as CEO of Go Organics, Spencer Leung, shows with lower GHG emissions, reduce energy & mitigating climate risks to farmers
  • Recycled Organics: Protecting Water In Sydney’s Food Bowl – CORE is protecting Sydney’s foodbowl with its Sustainable Amendments for Agriculture (SAFA) Program based on using recycled organics, which benefit the land & farmers. CORE’s Chief Executive, Christopher Rochfort, expands
  • Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus In Asia’s Large River Basins – The water-energy-food security nexus is complicated but as Maija Taka, Marko Keskinen & Olli Varis show, the tensions can be alleviated. Plus, they share 3 WEF cases in Asia’s largest river basins
  • Food Revolution 5.0: Digital Printing Meat – – Food Revolution 5.0., clean meat… Hong Kong is there. Get the latest from Professor Kenneth Lee of Chinese University of Hong Kong and hear more on his 3D printed foie gras
  • Diet, Food Waste & Kids In 5 Graphics – Agriculture emits as much greenhouse gas as electricity and this needs to change. CWR’s Woody Chan sees 3 ways to reduce this, from changing diets and cutting food waste to fewer kids
  • The Water Footprint Of Hong Kong’s Diet – Urban centres are very much dependent on distant resources and as a result, their populations are unaware of their indirect water footprint. Davy Vanham from the European Commission looks at Hong Kong’s diet’s high water footprint
  • More Food In A Changing Climate – China’s 120 million hectares of farmland, equivalent to 2x France, is threatened by urbanisation & rampant pollution. CWRs Hu on China’s challenging path to food security in a changing climate
  • Global Agriculture & Water Scarcity – With more than 25% of global agri grown in high water stress areas, WRI’s Frances Gassert tells us why tension between global crop production & water supply is expected to grow
David Yeung
Author: David Yeung
David Yeung is the Founder & CEO of Green Monday, a multi-faceted social venture with the mission to take on the world’s most pressing crises of climate change, food insecurity and public health. With the global sustainability movement in Green Monday, the market-transforming plant-based retail, dining and distribution network in Green Common, and the revolutionary food technology innovation in Right Treat and Omnipork, Mr. Yeung has pioneered a one-of-a-kind integrated platform that engages and empowers millions of people, along with public and private sectors, towards green awareness, action and economy. His work earns him the award of “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” by the World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation. Other honors and recognitions include “Roddenberry Prize”, “Ten Outstanding Young Persons Hong Kong” and “50 Most Innovative Companies”. As a noted environmentalist and entrepreneur, Mr. Yeung has spoken at the World Economic Forum, Milken Institute Summit, TEDx, as well as financial and academic institutions such as Credit Suisse, UBS and UCLA. International media coverage of Green Monday and Mr. Yeung includes CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg and Forbes. Mr. Yeung is a graduate of Columbia University, an Ashoka Fellow and the author of a number of best-selling books on Zen wisdom and mindfulness.
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