Tue, Feb 13, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Why Taipei is Asia’s top destination for vegans

A long tradition of Buddhism and a vegan wave from the West have created an abundance of plant-based restaurants and cafes in the nation’s capital, as well as vegan events and clothing brands

By Jasmin Oertel  /  Contributing reporter

“Our number one priority is educating people to understand the difference between junk food veganism and actual healthy vegan eating,” said Mai Bach, owner of Ooh Cha Cha.

They are also one of many businesses that partnered up with Green Monday, an initiative that started in Hong Kong and is part of a worldwide Meatless Monday movement. They encourage companies to go meatless for one day, which Green Monday said not only reduces 900,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, but also saves up to 300 million animal lives per year.

Sidney Hsu (徐令軒), founder of Taiwan Vegan Frenzy, Taiwan’s first vegan fair, and its first vegan clothing label, Vnicorn, also sees a dynamism to Taipei’s vegan scene.

Hsu made the change from vegetarianism to veganism in 2014 because of her drive to protect animal rights and to live a more sustainable life.

“Vnicorn is 100 percent made in Taiwan and uses so-called mill-end fabrics. I hate waste, so my principle is to not create new demand but use leftover fabrics. Cutting down waste is my main priority.”


The Taiwan Vegan Frenzy started coincidentally after a friend encouraged Hsu to use her shared space in late 2015 to hold the first event. Since then the fair has been growing yearly and attracting up to 3,000 visitors by promoting local vegan enterprises.

Usually hosted three to four times a year, locations alternate between Taipei and Taichung to get both north and central Taiwan familiar with the vegan lifestyle and more sustainable options.

Environmentally friendlier soaps, shampoos, as well as vegan dog food are some of the things that you can find at Plants, a restaurant that is run by Taiwanese filmmaker Square Jao (饒孟蓁) and her partner. They also offer workshops and talks on vegan topics.

James Bell, a vegan blogger from New Zealand, has traveled throughout Asia and can relate to PETA’s choice of cities.

“It really depends on how you define vegan-friendly... I think in some ways it’s incredibly fortunate to be based in Taipei, in other ways I wish there was more accessibility to vegan and vegetarian products in supermarkets, such as imported goods, which you can find in abundance in Hong Kong.”

For many, veganism has become a lifestyle that is not just about the mere absence of animal products. It is also about cultivating a life that is more sustainable and friendlier to the environment and animal life.

“If we want to change, we need to feel good doing it. If we don’t feel good, it’s not going to stick. Right now, what I see with veganism and with movements like Zero Waste and Upcycling are people feeling positive about these changes,” Bell said.

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