Saying that I have always loved to eat is an understatement. The way an art fan might long after a Picasso, I would drool at the mention of ice cream on a sizzling summer’s day. My days as a student in Nice, France, naturally led to gorging on copious amounts of Gouda and Gruyère. And, traditionally, the only successful way to turn my frown upside down had been to present me with a hearty bowl of spaghetti swimming in bolognese. While I have always been a fruit and salad lover (mostly because that is the only range within my cooking repertoire), the term “vegan” remained ever elusive and seemed beyond my reach.
The issue was not an unwillingness to explore or a lack of an open mind. Being married to a chef, one quickly learns to discard any prudish taste buds. I have always appreciated clean and healthy food and have tried to measure to the “you are what you eat” yardstick as best as I could. But, for me, that has generally meant a plate of a baked juicy chicken leg, with a heaping serving of quinoa and feta cheese swimming in olive oil (the Mediterranean side of me is still kicking strong). However, having arrived in Hong Kong, where feta is a rarity on league with the black swan – and, when found, comparable to the price of gold – I have been forced to adapt. The feta tragedy has been balanced by a more opportune event: I began working at SpiceBox Organics.
A year went by in the blink of an eye, with me pleasantly surprised that I was not being plagued by my usual four-times-yearly streptococcus infection. As I scaled Hong Kong’s peaks, I paused to admire the city’s concrete skyline and to gravely ponder, Could it be I have at last metamorphosed into a strong and healthy individual? If you are passionate about health and wellness, working at SpiceBox Organics is the equivalent of a kid working at a candy shop.
Featuring an all-vegetarian café with a wide selection of freshly made, healthy and tasty dishes, in addition to an extensive USDA-certified retail line of over 1,000 organic products, it dawned on me that I was standing at the very mecca of the plant-based movement. Lost in bliss drinking innumerable cartons of Rude Health Hazelnut Drink, gorging on spoons of Kehoe’s Kitchen Vegan Tasty Cream Cheese and protein superfoods such as SpiceBox Organics Organic Tempeh, I entirely forgot about my initial feta plight. I realised that the issue all along had not been a lack of curiosity on my part, but rather a lack of accessibility to high-quality vegan brands. One year after being initiated into the plant-based mecca, I was witnessing my very taste buds changing!
This was a welcome transition given all the research I had recently come across, both on the environmental and ethical fronts. I had become aware of the high use of antibiotics to sustain industrial production levels in the meat and dairy industries. The figures had always concerned me, but they had been brushed aside by the urban, practical side of me. The reality is that today we have become so distanced from food sourcing and production that we have lost our conception of the immense environmental burden that our diets are causing to the very planet that feeds us. From the reduction of biodiversity to clear land for livestock, to the gallons of water consumed, to the pollution of vital resources by chemicals and pesticides, current industrial farming methods are unsustainable. When you buy a nicely packaged piece of beef at the supermarket after a long day of work, your brain does not flash a statistic like this: a 2013 study by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated that livestock were responsible for more than 14 per cent of all man-made greenhouse-gas emissions. You are way too tired at that point to weigh in on the counterfact that plant-based diets could reduce food’s greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 73 per cent.
And that is why at SpiceBox Organics we believe that the onus is on us – the market – to place within consumers’ reach a variety of nutritious and protein-rich options that make plant-based eating more accessible. The food industry has taken notice, with investments into alternative-meat products now reaching hundreds of millions of US dollars. As time lapses, this will translate to viable vegan commercial products (with some already on the market such as JUST EGG and The Beyond Burger) entering the market.
SpiceBox Organics will be your trusty curator ensuring that the gates remain open only for the highest-quality ingredients. We hope that for the sake of the environment, animals’ well-being and your own optimal health, you drop by for a browse with the possibility that one day, just like me, you might find yourself transformed!