Behind Hong Kong’s premier eco-wellness website – Green Queen – is Sonalie Figueiras, a thought leader on zero-waste, sustainable living, and wellness. Committed to living a healthier life, she is also a supporter of a plant-based diet. When Sonalie first embarked on her journey to pursue a healthier life in Hong Kong, there were very few options. Luckily, things have changed. “Nowadays, the health and wellness industry is gaining popularity and consumers are becoming more conscious of their food choices. Many businesses and brands have popped up to meet the demand for better quality, more nutritious foods.” Green Common and Live Zero are two of Sonalie’s favourite places to shop for organic food.
Skeptics may say that healthy, organic foods are not easily affordable for the general public. But Sonalie suggests considering the long-term cost-savings of making smart food choices. “Right now, we live in a world where conventional processed foods are artificially cheap… but they shouldn’t be this cheap. Further, people are not thinking about healthcare costs when they think about the food they buy… If you improve your food quality, your health also improves, thereby reducing future healthcare costs. You can’t compare two food products by price alone, you have to look at ingredient quality and health implications! ”
To start your journey with organic foods, Sonalie recommends starting with what your kids eat. For example, try organic snacks. That’s an easy switch. Another easy swap is to go for non-dairy plant alternatives that are free from added hormones and antibiotics instead of things like milk or yogurt. In the end, it’s important to start with what you eat the most because that’s going to have the largest impact on your health.
While the price of imported organic produce might not be friendly to everyone, Sonalie points out that there are some budget-friendly options. “You can now get fresh produce from local farms that are certified organic. There are many farms in the New Territories that offer affordable organic bok choy, gai lan, and other local veggies. There are even organic stands at many neighbourhood wet markets.”
How about regular busy city folks who have little time for grocery shopping or cooking? “If you are looking for organic pre-made foods, I really do love Green Common. They have a full range of snacks, frozen items and staples like organic oats, rice and noodles, many of which are fairly affordable!” And don’t forget: Green Common now offers delivery- perfect if you have no time. There is no excuse not to prioritize your health!
Sonalie believes the rise of organic food parallels the rise in demand for high-quality food, which in turns correlates to the rise of plant-based diets. “For the past few years, we have been eating processed, low quality and nutrient-poor diets. The concept of ‘organic agriculture’ came along, which led us to question what we were eating and where our food comes from and how it is grown. This, in turn, made us realise the impact of our diet on the planet. I support eating more plants and reducing the environmental impact of the livestock industry. And when we move to a more plant-forward diet, we should feed our body with the best plants, ideally organic as much as possible!”
Looking into the future, Sonalie believes that personalisation and customisation will revolutionise retail and how we consume products. “There is a lot of potentials for eCommerce to step in and help customers filter through products to find what they need, for examples low-sodium foods or dairy-free items. I think most people don’t want thousands of products in front of them, they want what they need. Smart retailers can help customers make sense of everything, so they don’t get fatigue reading labels or end up buying the wrong products.” Green Common is responding to this demand by creating personalised filters to help people choose foods that are suitable for their health goals and dietary needs.
When asked if she is worried that the “trend” will pass, Sonalie remains optimistic. “There will always be new trends. But it doesn’t matter because the big awakening has happened- people now understand there is a connection between their diet and the environment. That won’t go away.”