Peggy Chan pioneered the plant-based eating movement in Hong Kong when she opened her restaurant, Grassroots Pantry, in Sai Ying Pun in 2011. The restaurant has since moved to a larger location on Hollywood Road—a testament not only to the chef and restaurateur's foresight but to her dedication to serving sustainable cuisine with integrity and heart. We spoke to Peggy to find out what inspires her, what she's passionate about, and the simple pleasures she lives for.

Tell us a bit about you and what you do.

I’m a chef and restaurant operator by trade, and an activist for global environmental issues. Through Grassroots Pantry, we are able to create tangible impact by using food as the medium of choice. The restaurant as a platform allows us to raise awareness on the necessity to reduce production and consumption on factory farmed animals.

By proposing whole, nutrient-dense, plant-based protein alternatives to our customers, we create the possibility for drastic shifts destined to transpire throughout the entire system.

See also: Less Is More: David Yeung Of Green Monday

What are you passionate about? 

I am impassioned by animal welfare, social justice issues and achieving equality in our food system. This means both in my personal and professional life, I will vocally and actively support local, organic agriculture, sustainable development, gender equality, fair wages, reducing waste and consumption through collaboration and working alongside those that holds genuine integrity.

What makes you smile?

Kittens, and random acts of kindness. 

Someone you look up to?

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Alice Waters, His Holiness The Dalai Lama—they have all inspired me to achieve concentration and focus on what truly matters.

Those with achievements and personality traits that I aspire to achieve in life still makes my heart pound and knees weak. For example, when Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten came to dine and Grassroots Pantry back in November, meeting Chef Dan Barber at Blue Hill, and the friends I surround myself with (Cherrie Atilano of AGREA, Keshia Hannam of Camel Assembly, Janice Leung Hayes of Honestly Green) who continue to fight for justice and equality and who empower me to work harder and to achieve greater, more long-term impact. 

See also: Less Is More: Patricia Tung-Gaw Of Ferastyle

The one thing you can’t live without?

My portable office—the laptop. If I told you I had a second brain, it would be stored there. 

On the flipside, what is one thing you could do or have less of in order to improve your life?

Acess to the internet. I could do with a little less information.

How do you find balance in busy Hong Kong?

Early evenings and alone time. 

What are some of your self-care rituals (when it comes to beauty & skincare)?

I’m a heavy essential oils user and live by jojoba, frankincesnse and sandalwood to keep me grounded. Lavender to heal all of my burns and cuts, and pawpaw cream as my moisturiser.

Why do you believe it’s important to take time out for yourself?

The most basic technique to practice meditation is to allow ourselves to be focused in on our own thoughts and our own breathing, which requires undisrupted concentration. The more that we are able to stay unaffected by change in our surroundings, the calmer and more mindful our behavior becomes.

By being alone, we shake off the excess stimulation society often requires us to participate in, and allows us to recharge our creative juices.

See also: Less Is More: Sarah Fung Of HULA

What are some of the simple things in life that you enjoy?

A nice glass of natural wine, a steam and sauna, followed by a 90-minute deep tissue massage and almond butter. 

What does the term “less is more” mean to you? 

“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.” A quote taken from a passage in Herman Hesse’s 1922 novel Siddartha.

I don’t have affordable calories to burn due to my size, weight and heavy physical workload, and because of that workload, I often find myself skipping meals. By consuming only nutrient dense, plant-protein rich meals, my body is able to sustain itself for longer, and those unplanned-for intermittent fasts allow my immune system to regenerate entirely. 

I trust in small portion sizes and only consuming foods that requires less energy to produce, yet provides our bodies with the highest nutritional values in order to gain more long-term sustainable benefits for our bodies, our hearts and our minds

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