A point of debate in the veg*an scene relates to the Eat Well Canteen. Some say it’s all vegan, some say it isn’t. Here’s the deal.
Green Hub launched in August 2015 as an environmental project at the former Tai Po Police Station. Green Hub is managed by the people from Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. The former station canteen block is now open to the public as the Eat Well Canteen.
At the time of Green Hub’s opening we approached them to ask some info. This was for the prospective listing on the HappyCow international restaurant directory. We emailed Green Hub this very specific question for whether the HappyCow listing should be classified as vegan or vegetarian:-
- “Are you able to advise please if the products you retail are 100% vegan?”
We received a reply in October 2015 from Zoe Yeung, Communications Officer at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden.
- “please use vegetarian instead of vegan”
That seemed to be a pretty clear answer to that. Then in October 2016 ago we were notified by an alert reader very enthusiastically that Eat Well Canteen was all vegan. This prompted a three person visit on Saturday to try to find out more.
So on arrival and rocking up to the counter one of the serving ladies offered as her first three words, “Everything is vegan.”
This obviously seemed very encouraging. Another conversation asked her colleague, “Any milk products used, any egg products used, any honey?”
“We don’t use those,” came the reply. Sounds great. Food orders were made with the chick pea salad especially popular. After some chomping away it was clean plates all round. The historical mixed updates on the veganism obviously needed some further questions. We asked if we could talk with someone senior from which the chef kindly came to talk with us.
The chef at Eat Well Canteen is the excellently named Begin (spelled, B e g i n). This seems ironically appropriate for our dialogue as things immediately started to become clearer from talking with Begin. Some people may be familiar with Begin who previously worked as chef at Mana! lacto ovo vegetarian restaurant on Wellington Street. Begin answered all our questions to spell it out:-
- He has been chef at Eat Well Canteen since it opened last year
- He operates a vegan only food and beverage policy for the Eat Well Canteen
- It’s easy to do so there since the ingredients come from Kadoorie Farm. The ingredients are also organic
- However the food policy is his rather than that of the people who manage Green Hub. Thus in the event of a change of chef the food policy at Eat Well Canteen could be downgraded from vegan to a less stringent form of vegetarianism
- Also other people at Green Hub use the canteen facilities for activities such as cookery classes. These activities sometimes involve the use of honey
We thank Begin for shining the light on this for us. We would unsurprisingly prefer Eat Well Canteen (and indeed everywhere else in the world), to adopt veganism as a strategy. We though thank the Green Hub management team for their sincerity of not making unjustified claims of veganism when veganism isn’t their strategy. Their sincerity is a contrast to some of the more disingenuous entities highlighted elsewhere on this website such as this.
So if you’re vegan and visiting Eat Well Canteen, it’s smart to ask if everything on sale is still vegan. It’s well worth checking out. Lovely building, lovely grounds and lovely, affordable food. If Green Hub management decide in future to adopt a vegan strategy for the Eat Well Canteen (and we keenly hope they do), we would be delighted to add them to the 5 minute vegan Hong Kong guide.
- Eat Well Canteen
- 11 Wan Tau Kok Lane
- Nearest MTR – Tai Po Market exit A2
- +852 2996 2800