Vegetarianism has its roots in ancient India, where it was first practiced as a religious tradition. In China, the custom of abstaining from meat on the first and fifteenth day of every lunar month was also prevalent. This led to vegetarianism being regarded as a manifestation of religious faith.
However, in modern times, vegetarians often face stigmas such as being associated with malnutrition. They may also be viewed as difficult to dine with, and even labeled as weak, as seen in the popular Chinese internet slang “I’m not a vegetarian.” Moreover, studies have found that women are more likely to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle than men, which further reinforces gender stereotypes associated with the term “vegetarian
“Only women will like veggie food, real men will eat meat.”
When we observe our vegetarian friends, it’s easy to see that the majority are women. This is because women tend to be more health-conscious, and there are historical and cultural factors that have influenced this trend. Steven Heine, a psychologist from the University of British Columbia, explains that “meat has traditionally been a symbol of gender, status, and power due to the influence of hunting culture in ancient times, making it the main food for gentlemen and a rare luxury for farmers.” As a result, “meat-eating” has become associated with masculinity. By the late 19th century, restaurants and advertisements had already decided that “suitable” foods for women were small, light dishes such as salads or desserts. As women who are conscious of their appearance, it’s hard to resist the appeal of “healthy” salads or vegetarian menus.
Empathy for animals is another common reason for turning to vegetarianism. Research shows that women are 75% more likely than men to be members of animal rights organizations and are more concerned about the impact of meat consumption on the environment and animal welfare. Women are also more likely than men to feel upset when they learn about the information behind the production and breeding of meat.
Throughout history, gender stereotypes have continued to influence many people, causing some vegetarians to feel hesitant to speak up. Studies have shown that merely mentioning vegetarianism in a male’s personality description or preferences can significantly reduce the “masculine” feeling associated with the image, making it difficult for men to take the first step towards vegetarianism.
Despite these stereotypes, society is gradually accepting vegetarianism. We are seeing more and more vegetarian restaurants in our streets, more people are embracing vegetarianism, and many restaurants are offering “meat-free” or “fully vegetarian” options on their menus. Celebrities are also promoting vegetarian culture, and vegetarianism is becoming more closely associated with “environmental protection” and “animal welfare”. This gradual shift has led to vegetarianism becoming a way of life for many people.
Popular KOL Elva Ni and Charlotte Lam are both vegetarians and often share their vegetarian experiences on social media platforms.
New Attitudes Towards Vegetarianism
In the 21st century, as people have become more conscious about issues such as food safety, the environment, and animal welfare, vegetarianism has shed its religious connotations and become associated with health, environmental protection, and animal welfare. Various medical studies show that a proper vegetarian diet can effectively reduce cholesterol levels, ease digestive burdens, lower toxin levels, and reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. For women, a vegetarian diet can also help maintain skin elasticity, reduce weight, and prevent osteoporosis. Thus, vegetarianism has become a popular choice for many in this era of increasing health consciousness.
On the issue of environmental protection, a 2021 study by Nature Food reveals that producing one kilogram of meat generates 34.6 kilograms of carbon emissions, three times that of fruits and vegetables. Lastly, on the issue of animal welfare and respect for life, it is worth noting that “We won’t die if we don’t eat meat, but animals will die for us.”
Many health-conscious women are embracing vegetarianism, seeking to pursue a healthy lifestyle, shape their ideal figures, and even become vegetarians after seeing the cruelty of slaughter on TV programs. Vegetarians are becoming increasingly vocal about their ideal way of life and their attitudes towards upholding principles for life. It’s important to be true to oneself and not worry about what others think.
If you have ever considered becoming a vegetarian for any reason, it is worth researching and taking action. After all, your life and health are your own.
A Guide to Vegetarian Restaurants Supporting Community Agriculture
Exploring Local and Sustainable Produce at Vegetarian Restaurants in Hong Kong. Black Window Cafe, located on Tai Po Road in Sham Shui Po, is one such restaurant that uses only pure vegetables and avoids mock meats. The cafe updates its daily menu on social media, clearly categorizing dishes as “v=vegetarian,” “Five=Five Spices,” and *=using local ingredients,” such as mint and cilantro sauce potato quinoa salad, lettuce and egg pancake with nori mushroom sauce, and rosemary cherry tomato handmade sourdough focaccia.
In addition to serving delicious vegetarian dishes, the restaurant occasionally sells local vegetables using a “pay-what-you-want” system. Customers simply place the amount they want to pay in an envelope and hand it to the staff, making the transaction stress-free and enjoyable. After a satisfying meal, customers can support local agriculture on the spot. By choosing vegetarianism and supporting local produce, we can all make a positive impact on our health and the environment.
Another vegetarian restaurant located in San Po Kong is Mum’s Veggie Cafe which specializes in Japanese-style vegetarian cuisine. The dishes are centered around vegetables and prepared using Japanese cooking techniques. Some of the dishes include pumpkin and potato cakes, ginger-flavored boiled eggplant, mixed vegetable tempura, grapefruit vinegar-marinated tomatoes, and fresh horseradish and yam. The flavors are fresh and natural, turning vegetables into various delicious and refreshing dishes. This restaurant is especially suitable for those who value health and want to try vegetarianism.
Image and source: Mum’s Veggie Cafe