Imagine a supermarket shopping experience where you don’t have to push your cart through the meat and seafood section. Doesn’t that sound like the dream shopping trip?
In terms of vegetarian and vegan grocers, cities in Asia is a bit behind the times when placed alongside other international cities. Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York are swamped by 100% vegan and vegetarian businesses while Asian cities, such as Hong Kong are just starting to make headway. Finding decent vegetarian or vegan fare in Hong Kong isn’t too difficult, but stores with a decent selection of plant-based products.
The struggle to have our own completely meat-free shopping trip just experienced a massive jump forward with the opening of Green Common. This eco-friendly and health-centric venture is much-overdue for Asia.
Green Common is a new vegetarian concept store by Green Monday, a non-profit organization that promotes a greener lifestyle and enables green, healthy and sustainable living. Green Common currently has two locations, one in Wan Chai and one in Central. At the Central branch, you will find a vegetarian bistro Ovo Café, and a cruelty-free cooking studio Kind Kitchen, all with the ultimate goal of making green living a natural way of life.
The Shopping Experience – It’s a Vegan Wonderland!
Walking through Green Common felt like I was a kid in a candy store. The store is filled with snacks, sweets, all kinds of nut butter, superfoods (chia seed, açai powder, kale powder and the like), vegan cheese, vegan meat (Gardein, Beyond Meat, and Feild Roast), fresh produce, and vegan ice cream.
While Green Common calls itself as a vegetarian grocer, I found that the majority of the products aren’t just veggie friendly, they are vegan! Green Common does not seem to stock dairy products. In fact, the only non-vegan products that were found were honey and some milk chocolate.
The products found in here are mostly imported from all over the world and are displayed and categorized appropriately. Each item is labeled clearly with icons that inform the customer whether the item is organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, raw, fair-trade, Buddhist friendly and locally made. Also, to offer a holistic solution to green living, they also sell personal care and household items that are plant-based, natural, organic and sustainable for the environment.
As much I wanted to buy everything in the store and bring it home to Taiwan, we had to be responsible adults and buy what we need or are deprived of the most. So, we headed towards the chilled and frozen section and started looking for vegan cheese and vegan meat alternatives.
Green Common carries a large variety of vegan meat alternatives. Aside from the usual Asian vegan faux meat, they also carry western meat alternatives, which are a rare find if you live in Asia.Their freezers are full with Beyond Meat chicken strips and meatballs, Gardein chicken fingers and pocket meals!
Pretty soon, we had our baskets filled with a couple of bags of Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese, Miyoko’s Cultured Cheese, Gardein, and Beyond Meat products. Our total damage was about HK$1,000, and it was worth every penny.
The Shopping Environment
After spending more time looking around Green Common, I became less distracted with the food and become more aware of the modern, brightly-lit space and green messages that are exhibited everywhere within the shop.
Suddenly, shopping at Green Common feels like a fun educational experience, from enlightening quotes and stories behind different foods, every detail seeks to inspire a more holistic mindset towards sustainable eating and living.
Green Monday’s mission is to make sustainable eating a norm. Through Green Common, it hopes to provide people with more options and convenience to achieve a sustainable lifestyle for the body and the environment. To reinforce the learning experience, Green Common has a studio space that is utilized for public education, particularly for plant-based cooking. Cooks are invited to The Kind Kitchen to host a cooking class or workshop regularly.
Ovo Café – Healthy and Vegan-Friendly Feed
After you’ve shopped for your healthy goodies, don’t forget to stop by Ovo Cafe next door for a healthy feed. Ovo Café operates with the same philosophy as the health store Green Common next door; a passion for sharing a green life with a dedication to healthiness and an eco-lifestyle.
Ovo Café is exquisitely designed, the interior is decorated with all sorts of flowers, potted succulents and a feature wall of plates with hand-written messages from internationally renowned celebrities such as Faye Wong and others who are supporters of the cause.
They serve fresh, tasty vegetarian cuisine at all times of the day, from soups and salads to vegan meat alternatives. Even though Ovo Café is a vegetarian cafe, they have quite a few vegan options. The menu appropriately marked with icons indicating which ones are vegan or can be veganized.
The menu is chock full of exciting offerings like vegan crab cakes and mains that incorporate Beyond Meat products. Beyond Meat is dubbed as “the future of protein”. It is a vegan meat alternative that carries the same amount of protein and nutrition value as real meat. I have had the product before and it is scarily convincing. The texture, the bite and the taste is very similar to the real deal. Once you’ve tried it, you will know what I mean. Aside from the salads, the menu has about four vegan mains.
We tried two out of four vegan mains, the first was called Spice Entice which was a paratha with Beyond Meat beef mince filling seasoned with Indian curry. This was really delicious, the paratha was very flaky and crispy. The filling was flavorful, the mince is served with other vegetables like chickpeas and potatoes.
The second dish we tried was Slim Power. At first, this dish did not appeal to me because it sounds too healthy, but we ordered this based on the waitresses recommendation. It is konjac noodles tossed in tomato sauce served with spinach and monkey head mushroom (lion’s mane mushroom). Konjac noodles are thin, translucent and possess a gelatinous texture. They are Japanese in origin and most often eaten in hot pots.
Konjac noodles are healthy because of their low-calorie content, a single 200g portion of these noodles — enough to replace a small portion of rice, pasta or bread contains just eight calories. I have had konjac noodles before, but never had it with pasta sauce. It was weird but refreshing east meets west fusion.
We couldn’t finish up the meal with a dessert, as Ovo Café do not have vegan dessert options. Of course, this left me feeling a bit disappointed. Instead of going home feeling like a sad sack, we headed over to Green Common and picked up some vegan ice cream!
Overall, Ovo Café is a place to go when your body is craving a healthy, wholesome and guiltless food. It ticks all the right boxes for a chill evening out except for the lack of vegan dessert.
Green Common and Ovo Café’s passion for a sustainable living is surely taking Hong Kong by storm. Green Common is well worth any visit to Hong Kong, or two, or three, or like me just as many times as you can fit into your time there. As for Ovo Café, I’m not crazy over it, as there are better places for vegans to eat, but if you have not tried Beyond Meat and are keen on giving it a go, definitely dine in Ovo Café.