- Rachel Read
Peggy Chan is the founder and creative visionary behind Grassroots Pantry, a vegetarian restaurant in Hong Kong that recently uprooted to larger premises in Central to meet demand after two years in Sai Ying Pun.
With a background in family-run kitchens, training in culinary arts and a degree in restaurant, hotel management and business administration, Chan decided to start Grassroots after noticing a gap in the city for restaurants that served “good clean food”. “Bringing super-food, plant-based ingredients to the table in an approachable manner was really lacking in the local dining industry,” she explains. “Using food as an educational platform to inspire others to eat more consciously made complete sense to me.”
With awareness about healthier eating habits growing in Hong Kong – no doubt helped along by Grassroots’ delicious menu of vegetarian and vegan delights – Chan is an inspirational role model for embracing a greener lifestyle. “Adopting a plant-based diet is the most effective form of sustainable living,” Chan believes. “These are exciting times as demand creates supply; lessening livestock consumption, purchasing non-genetically modified ingredients, supporting organic agriculture, buying locally, and going back to our roots is the only way we can create change for a better and safer world.”
Chan says the most important advice she’d give to those looking to pursue healthier eating patterns is to consume “five small nutritious meals high in leafy greens, vegetables, lentils, pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains – this will keep you 60 to 70% satiated at all times and help stabilise your metabolism.” Her other tips for eating more consciously include avoiding processed, canned or packaged foods, eliminating snacking, cooking your own meals whenever possible, and reading labels more carefully to fully understand the ingredients and processes involved in food – “but don’t obsess over it!” she adds. Essentially, though, Chan’s philosophy is quite simple: “Quality comes from blood, sweat and heart. Those who grow and cook food with thought, love and passion ultimately deliver higher quality food,” she says.
Healthy ingredients can play a vital part in other aspects of our wellbeing, too. Chan points to turmeric as being a powerful antibacterial, free radical-fighting antioxidant that can improve your complexion; consume a teaspoon each day blended into juices, smoothies or dressings to reap its many benefits. Similarly, she recommends the use of pure essential oils in your beauty routine. “I use cold-pressed sesame, coconut and jojoba oils as body moisturisers daily,” she says, “while rose, geranium and rosehip oil is great for keeping the face hydrated; I use it as a natural night-time moisturiser at least twice a week.”
That being said, Chan does have some tried-and-tested beauty products in her arsenal as well. “I’m extremely loyal when it comes to make-up and tend to keep using the same products over and over again. I live by Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover and Estée Lauder Eyeliner, and use Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Skin Brightening Exfoliator two to three times a week to keep my pores clear.”
And as for Chan’s idea of beauty? “Being consistently kind and compassionate to ourselves and those that enter our lives.” Words to live by, indeed.