Climate-Friendly Vegan Pork Comes To Asia

A quick look at veganism trends in the U.S. shows quite the remarkable up-turn: in the last three years, the number of vegans has increased 600%! However, America isn’t the only country looking to make the switch to a greener, meatless diet. The Venetian Macao hotel is just one of the 14 restaurants in Macao that has embraced the use of vegan pork, called Omnipork.

The plant based pork (made from peas, soy, shiitake mushroom, and rice) is the latest brainchild of Hong Kong-based David Yeung. China is a massive fan of pork: around 65% of all the meat consumed in China is pork, used by its 1.4 billion people in soups, dumplings, stir-fries, and pork buns. Unfortunately, this mass consumption is a risk, for both the environment and those eating it; meat and seafood production account for 15% of Asia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and Asia has had its fair share of tainted food scandals, antibiotic and hormone use, and even the toll of African Swine Fever.

Yeung has already embarked on a social enterprise called Green Monday, which encourages non-vegans and non-veggies to eliminate meat from their diet for one day out of the week, in an effort to curb climate change, shore up food security, and improve public health.

Fortunately, it seems to be working.

“The appearance and texture is the same, I can’t tell the difference,” said Suki Chu, a guest at the Venetian Macao hotel’s Portofino restaurant.

And she’s not the only one enjoying the healthy pork substitute: Omnipork has made its way into 42 restaurants in Hong Kong and 80 in Singapore, but Yeung’s 2019 goal is to partner with even more Chinese hotels and restaurants, including food service companies that cater to Fortune 500 companies and big-tech cafeterias.

Although the change to pork substitutes and plant meat pork could have a big environmental impact (it’s predicted to slash greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by 2050), the connection meat and pork have to tradition — especially as a culturally-relevant food — may be a tough sell. Eric Tang, who works in customer services at a telecom company, has a plan in mind for his traditional mother.

“I’m going to try cooking a Shanghainese dish for her, but I’m not telling her what’s inside.”