Cover Juana Manahan-Yupangco nourishes the family and promotes mindful eating with the vegan dishes of Mesa ni Misis. (Photo by Myra Ho)

Going without meat and eating leftovers are some of the small things these food heroes from Asia’s Most Influential list want you to consider

Consider this: a steady diet of fat burgers can lead to a warmer planet. According to the United Nation Food and Agricultural Organization, livestock represents 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle responsible for most of the emissions that lead to global warming. 

These food champions from Asia’s Most Influential list are on a mission to change the way we eat, making mindful consumption easier to adopt. They promote vegan dishes, the reduction of food waste or intelligent farming so that you can enjoy good and healthy food without burdening the Earth. 

David Yeung, Hong Kong

With Green Monday, social entrepreneur David Yeung established a food ecosystem that addresses, among others, climate change, animal suffering and food insecurity. At first, the company raised awareness about the green lifestyle, encouraging people to give up meat once a week (a 2020 survey revealed that 40 per cent of Hongkongers practise flexitarianism). Now, it encompasses food tech innovation, food retail and distribution, corporate consulting, and impact investing. 

Its concept shop Green Common carries plant-based favourites like Beyond Burger and Just Egg in locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, and China. Meanwhile, its OmniFood brand introduced the climate- and animal-friendly OmniPork. The flagship product—a plant-based protein made of peas, soy, shiitake mushrooms and rice—provide a meat substitute that is uncannily close to the real thing. To round out its offerings, the company introduced plant-based fish fillets in 2021.

Read David Yeung’s full profile here.

Suzanne Mooney, Malaysia

The 2021 Food Waste Index Report by the United Nations Environmental Programme describes the scale of the food waste problem as such: if it were a country, it would be the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Suzanne Mooney is helping find a solution through The Lost Food Project, the Malaysian organisation that rescues lost food (quality food destined for landfills) and redistributes them to those in need. 

The food bank receives around 10 tons of surplus food such as fruit, vegetables, baked goods and dairy products from more than 50 food donors every week and connects the meals to charity partners. To date, it has rescued 2.7 million kilograms of food, which has prevented the release of 6.7 million kilograms of greenhouse gases and provided 8.7 million meals to the hungry. 

Read Suzanne Mooney’s full profile here.

Juana Manahan-Yupangco, Philippines

When her husband was found to have high cholesterol levels, Juana Manahan-Yupangco adopted a plant-based diet for her family and, in the process, started the movement for healthy meals made with local vegetables through Mesa ni Misis. Today, its website has a diverse collection of vegan recipes, from a heart-healthy mushroom bourguignon to a high-protein monggo kare-kare. Mesa also hosts cooking classes, provides food to the elderly, and conducts a subsidised grocery and gardening program for in-need mothers. 

While nourishing the family is the primary goal, Mesa contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to meat production by popularising the plant-based diet. It is also a reminder that good and responsible eating begins at home. 

Read Juana Yupangco-Manahan’s full profile here.

John-Hans Oei, Malaysia

To grow food that is good for all, John-Hans Oei reimagines farming with Cultiveat. Its precision farming methods minimise land degradation, wastage and carbon emissions. Cultiveat’s urban farm uses stacked trays to produce 10 times more yield in a smaller land footprint, channels rainwater through walls to maintain optimal temperatures and gives plants a pre-measured amount of water. 

What consumers get are fresh, high-quality produce such as Japanese cherry tomatoes or multicolour spinach that are free of pesticides, chemicals and additives, while the Earth benefits from zero-waste and sustainable farming practices. 

Read John-Hans Oei’s full profile here.

Discover the changemakers, industry titans and powerful individuals who are making a positive impact on the region in the Asia’s Most Influential list from Tatler.

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