No Longer Just for Hippies

PRICE HK$ 52 for a lunch set including soup and drink

FOOD RATING Good healthy lunch. The food is quite bland but nicely presented with a delightful array of colors and textures. The fare is very light, containing little salt or oil. If you’re used to eating meat for lunch, you’ll probably need a snack a few hours later. After eating a meal at Soland, I feel about 80% full rather than completely stuffed, which is recommended by many health experts as the correct way to eat. The food is served lightly warmed (rather than piping hot) which I don’t like.

GREEN RATING Deep Green even though it is not organic. A vegan diet excludes all animal products (no meat, dairy, eggs or fish). A completely plant-based diet eliminates the huge loss of calories that result from converting (feeding) grain to livestock, thereby reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment. According to a report published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions  (18 percent) than transport! It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

LOCATION Between Sheung Wan and Central. Entrance is the first doorway in the alley to the left side of Capo’s Expresso – walk up 3 floors. See Open Rice for a map.

Note: Serves lunch only.

What do Bill Clinton, Natalie Portman and Mike Tyson have in common? They are all vegans. In the Businessweek’s The Rise of the Power Vegans, Joel Stein writes:

It used to be easy for moguls to flaunt their power. All they had to do was renovate the chalet in St. Moritz, buy the latest Gulfstream jet, lay off 5,000 employees, or marry a much younger Asian woman. By now, though, they’ve used up all the easy ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of us—which may be why a growing number of America’s most powerful bosses have become vegan. Steve Wynn, Mort Zuckerman, Russell Simmons, and Bill Clinton are now using tempeh to assert their superiority. As are Bill Ford, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, venture capitalist Joi Ito, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey, and Mike Tyson. Yes, Mike Tyson, a man who once chewed on human ear, is now vegan. His dietary habit isn’t nearly as impressive as that of Alec Baldwin, though, who has found a way to be both vegan and fat at the same time.

Located on the 3rd floor of a walk up, Soland can take a bit of work to find. The decor is sparse and very low key. The furnishings look more at home in a country cottage, rather than in a restaurant in the heart of cosmopolitan Hong Kong. It is usually quiet, even when full, so makes a nice getaway from the crowds and noise. For some reason, vegetarians tend to speak in hushed voices, rather than shouting at people two feet away from them (as many patrons of local diners seem to do). The owner/waiter is mellow and relaxed, never trying to rush you out the door to accommodate the next patron. 

The food is decidedly light and somewhat bland. What you’ll appreciate is the taste of the natural ingredients themselves, rather than the high dosages of salt, sugar and flavorings found in most other restaurants. The ingredients consist of an array of fresh vegetables, grains and legumes. I feel healthy just looking at them.

In Hong Kong, where many of us suffer from decision fatigue, the menu choices, or more precisely the lack of, are a nice reprieve for your brain. You basically only have to chose between a few sauce options (tomato, pumpkin, beetroot, etc) that change weekly.

What is the connection between eating a vegan diet and the environment? Reducing the meat in our diet can have a huge impact on the environment. Tropical rainforest, such as the Amazon, are amazing sanctuaries of biodiversity which are being cleared to raise livestock or grow the grain necessary to feed livestock. By reducing your personal consumption of meat, you too can help to preserve these amazing and vital natural resources.

Feeding grains to livestock rather than eating the plants themselves results in a huge loss of efficiency due to the feed conversion ratio. It takes almost 2kg of grains to produce 1kg of chicken. 3-4kg of grains to increase the weight of a pig by 1kg. Over 8kg of grain to increase the the weight of a cow by 1kg. Because so much of a cow is not eaten, it actually takes 30kg of grain to produce 1kg of boneless, skinless beef. Beef is the most environmentally unfriendly of all the meats, not only because of its atrocious conversion ratio, but because grain-fed beef is a huge source of methane, which is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than CO2.

Give Soland a try for your own reasons, whether its health or the environment. You may just end up liking it.

One thought on “No Longer Just for Hippies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s