Plant Forward – my vision for a plant-based sustainable lifestyle

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate about plant-based diets and the incredible benefits that they have not only on our own health but also the health of animals and the environment.Recently, I have explored my Asian heritage by cooking plant-based Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Indian cuisines which has become a new passion. 

I am thrilled to see so many campaigns and businesses have started to promote plant-based eating, including endorsements from huge well-known celebrities such as Ariana Grande and Natalie Portman. These celebrities bring the campaigns to the fore through their social media reach. Sporting celebrities also recognise the value of plant-based diets, including Novak Djokovic who attributes his diet as a key part of his tennis success.

Huge corporates adding plant-based to their menus

What I find even more interesting is to witness global corporates such as MacDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut now embracing plant-based menus. New plant-based companies like Beyond Meat, Wicked, and Oatly are also expanding their range. Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to find a plant-based burger listed alongside meaty offerings. Indeed, the percentage of people interested in such a choice would have been too low for the corporates to consider it economically viable. But now when I go to the shops, the supermarkets have not just one or two shelves devoted to plant-based food but whole sections that are growing in variety and popularity. 

Pei Su and pig in an enclosure
Plant-based diets eliminate the suffering of billions of farmed animals worldwide

Asia playing catch up 

Whilst celebrating this fantastic shift in behaviour towards plant-based eating in the west, it has also made me appreciate that much of Asia does not have such exposure to similar campaigns to highlight the all-round health benefits of this sustainable and compassionate lifestyle.  Plant-based diets will not only eliminate the suffering of billions of farmed animals worldwide, but they will also help to combat the urgent climate change issue. I recognise that in Asia many people are vegetarian for religious or environmental reasons, but animal and diary free diets need to be understood and learnt. Campaigns such as Veganuary and Meat Free Mondays are well-known and followed in many western countries, but, as yet, these campaigns are not as prevalent across Asia. I am passionate about helping Asian nations to learn that by changing the way we live, our attitude towards animals, and our behaviour in daily consumption, we can help to combat global warming, reduce animal suffering and protect human health. 

Vegetables, fruit and legumes. Pland Forward and UN Sustainable Development Goal logo
Plant Forward supports the Sustainable Development Goals

Launching Plant Forward

This is why ACTAsia launched the Plant Forward campaign in 2022 – we want Plant Forward to be the start of something vital and for it to be promoted by Asians for Asia. ACTAsia wants to help people in Asia learn that the food we eat, and the choices we make in our daily lives, all have an impact on the environment and animals, as well as our own health. The Plant Forward campaign contributes towards the achievement of TEN United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Plant Forward is an Asian-focused free event, held online over two weeks organised by ACTAsia’s Compassionate Choices Network (CCN) to inspire Asian consumers to explore the benefits of a plant-based sustainable lifestyle. The CCN is a coordinated programme across Asia with regional reach and it incorporates four key areas that promote substantiality: food, clothing, living and transport. 

Oxford University study links high meat diets to environmental impact

Recent research from Oxford University has found that those with a high meat intake are having a far greater impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The research shows that a big meat-eater’s diet produces an average of 10.24 kg of planet-warming greenhouse gasses each day. A low meat-eater produces almost half that at 5.37 kg per day. And for vegan diets – it’s halved again to 2.47 kg a day. This important research pinpoints the true value in reducing meat intake and the impact on the planet if we embrace food-swaps for plant-based diets. 

Plant Forward 2023

I am excited that Plant Forward 2023 will run from 15th until 4th October. This year, the Plant Forward campaign has grown to include nine Asian countries including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Tuvalu, Vietnam from 11 CCN organisations. The campaign aims to educate consumers about the value of making sustainable lifestyle choices. Over the period, there will be inspiring talks from health professionals who will discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet and showcase live cooking demonstrations from renowned chefs using plant-based ingredients. In addition, Plant Forward will feature guest speakers who will share their experience of local sustainability solutions across Asia. I am thrilled that together with our CCN members in Asia, Plant Forward will be a festival inviting people to celebrate and participate in different events in their respective countries.

Plant Based burger
Meal Swap challenge – one meal a day for a plant-based alternative

Meal Swap challenge

Meal Swap challenge

In addition, Plant Forward 2023 will be inviting Asian consumers to take part in the 10-day meal swap challenge to promote sustainable living. I am delighted that this initiative to embrace a plant-based diet change will be hosted in five Asian countries. Asian consumers who swap one meal a day for a plant-based alternative will be entered into a prize draw to win exciting prizes at the end of the challenge. We will be encouraging consumers taking part in the challenge to take a photo of their plant-based meal swap and share it on their country’s Plant Forward Facebook group. I can’t wait to see all the photos that will be uploaded by consumers showcasing their culinary talents! 

Country focused events

There are also local Plant Forward events taking place in each country, including cooking competitions, pot lucks and eco-friendly product promotions. Internationally, consumers will be invited to meet a range of professionals online during webinars as they discuss and demonstrate:   

  • How to make sustainable lifestyle choices
  • Live cooking workshops with acclaimed chefs 
  • Tips on how to reduce food waste
  • Local sustainability solutions

I am particularly looking forward to the webinar with Oatly and Dr Bin Chen who will be exploring how companies in Asia are working towards sustainability and ESG. 

Asian Kids preparing vegetables
Plant Forward 2023 will run from 15th until 4th October

Join the Plant Forward movement!

I am thrilled that our Plant Forward campaign will be reaching nine Asian countries this year. I am passionate about spreading the word and, more importantly, encouraging action. Let Plant Forward be the start of something important across Asia. By making a change towards plant-based eating, consumers will not only be looking after their own health but they will making a significant difference to animals and the environment. What’s not to love?