Veganism is set to grow in China in the same way it has in Europe in recent years, according to an expert.
Vegan expert Hendrik Schellkes is the CEO of VeggieWorld, Europe's largest and oldest vegan trade fair for products and services aimed at both the general public and industry.
In this exclusive interview with Plant Based News, Schellkes spoke about upcoming trends within the vegan world, and how becoming can be a gradual process rather than a sudden shift.
Plant Based News: Have you been to mainland China before?
Hendrik: I've been there a couple of times personally, I went there last summer to prepare VeggieWorld event in Hangzhou - a 'small' 10 million habitant city near Shanghai. Yeh, that will be our next stop in Asia, it's happening in May.
PBN: Out of your trips to mainland China, what has been the most interesting thing for you?
Hendrik: My trip to mainland China a couple of years ago, not related to VeggieWorld, I've discovered that it's an amazingly growing country, all the businesses and economy and everything, it's just great to see what's happening there. Very interesting to follow. Now we can be a little part of that with VeggieWorld, since VeggieWorld is one of the mega trends we have these days and it's also affecting China suddenly.
PBN: In terms of all these opportunities that are growing in the vegan and plant-based movement globally, what do you see as the top and most interesting opportunities that are coming up for the Asian market in the upcoming years?
Hendrik: When I look back at Europe to have a comparison, 10 years back in Germany nobody knew the word 'vegan', today everybody knows and we say that it's no longer a trend but a main part of the society. I think this is also the trend for Asian countries, it will take a couple of years, but it will be like that because it's just so logic. To be vegan is just logic. So I think that's a big chance to take this trend from Europe to Asia, and it will be like that, no doubt about it.
PBN: It's also attracting a lot of young people, as they are very open-minded over here in Asia.
Hendrik: Yes, but the funny thing is that in the beginning, it's the young people, but when I look at VeggieWorld in Germany for example, the average age is going up. We have people who are 60+ years of age, many of them, so it's not only the young people that are driving this trend but also the old people who are learning about it. You can get the information from all over the world on the Internet that makes it easier to access, and that makes it easier to rethink what you're doing.
PBN: If there is one thing you want to say to the audience in Hong Kong and across China, what would it be?
Hendrik: That's pretty easy as we always say from the VeggieWorld point of view, we don't want to make people become vegan at once, we want to show them the chance of being vegan, the variety of products, not just food but also clothes and cosmetics. The easiest thing is going to a VeggieWorld event nearby and just give it a try.
PBN: I think events like VeggieWorld is so great because it helps people have that opportunity to open their eyes to different products. It's such a combination of different things for people to try then they can make an informed decision.
Hendrik: Certainly. And it can be small steps - people don't have to become a vegan right away, they can reduce their animal product intake then make further progress. It can be a process, and usually it is a process for many people. It's important to start the process.