Hong Kong now has even more plant-based options thanks to Le Fromage by Ma: the first-ever all-vegan cheese shop in the region.
Le Fromage was founded by jeweller-turned raw vegan chef Tina Barrat, the owner of French fine dining restaurant Ma and the Seeds of Life.
Her new vegan cheese shop offers more than 20 different varieties, each made with ingredients such as cashews and almonds. Flavors include truffle flavored “Shamembert,” pink peppercorn covered brie, smoked cheddar, and the gorgonzola-inspired “North Pole Star.”
All of Barrat’s cheese products are handcrafted without warming above 40 degrees, instead undergoing a soaking, sprouting, and dehydrating process. This enables the chef to preserve as much of the ingredients’ natural nutrition as possible.
“Nature is everything,” says Barrat in a statement on the Ma Restaurant website. “Given the climate crisis and the troubled times we live in, there’s no better idea than changing our approach to food, going cruelty-free, and being gentle with Mother Earth.”
“Sustainability will always be at the heart of every purchase you make,” reads Le Fromage’s press release. “Each wheel of cheeze feeds our passion as we protect our mother nature.”
In addition to the widest range of vegan cheese in Hong Kong, Le Fromage stocks various other artisan and locally-produced products including chutneys, olive oils, keto bread, and gluten-free crackers.
It also sells some of the popular, veganized high-end delicacies introduced at Ma and the Seeds of Life, including “Sans Salmon,” “Chiaviar,” and “Faux-Gras.”
Hong Kong consumers demand vegan food
As noted by Le Fromage’s press release, the last year has seen increased consumer demand for plant-based food.
The growth of veganism in China is predominantly due to its various health benefits compared to animal products — red and processed meat, in particular — and the government’s dietary guidelines have suggested a reduction in meat consumption since 2016.
Last year, Deliveroo Hong Kong revealed that vegan food orders rose by 104 percent between 2019 and 2020. In response, the region’s restaurants offered an increased number of plant-based options in order to meet growing demand.
Hong Kong is now also home to a completely vegan French bakery, Bien Caramélisé, while Discovery Bay-favorite Hemingway’s Bar & Grill now serves a 100 percent plant-based menu. But Big brands are also taking note, and KFC, Starbucks, and Pret have all expanded their meat-free options to include more vegan ingredients in Hong Kong.
A 2019 study produced by plant-based advocacy group Green Monday found that nearly 25 percent of the population already followed a flexitarian diet. While a whopping 70 percent of residents try to eat vegan meals at least once a week. Approximately five percent of female Hong Kongers are completely vegetarian.
Shamembert, brie, smoked cheddar, and North Pole Star are all available from Le Fromage’s Victoria Dockside location and online.