Peta Asia have published their top 10 Asian vegan friendly cities. It’s abundant in nonsense, has very non-vegan endorsements and has absurd omissions. Here’s the low down and a much better list.
(Tokyo has the most all vegan restaurants in Asia. Peta don’t even mention it in their list. Pic source: Moyan Brenn / wikimedia)
[Update: When we published this article we also sent a link to Peta Asia. It was subsequently pointed out to us on 3 January 2017 that Peta Asia have made at least one change to their article following our critique below].
We launch into some classic comedy with this sentence at number 4 on the Peta Asia listing:
“There’s no doubt about it – Makati, the Philippines’ financial district, is a vegan hub.”
Who are Peta trying to kid? No doubt about it? Ever heard of Shakespeare’s, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”?. That Peta comment is a complete contrast to the seasoned travelers who report the Philippines is equivalent to veganism as what Rodrigo Duterte is to drug tolerance.
Peta support their point by listing three all vegan eateries in Makati. With all of Asia to choose from they endorse some establishments that aren’t all vegan including this testament to slaughter below.
So among all the slaughter and carnage on this menu, one small vegan sub-column is enough to help propel Makati into Peta’s rating as the 4th best city for vegans in Asia. Then to put things perfectly into ridiculous perspective Peta make this statement:
“There’s even an Instagram account called Good Eats Asia featuring pictures of all the vegan-friendly items you can find in Makati’s restaurants.”
So lets take a look at this Asia conquering instagram account that’s so worthy of mention on Peta’s list of Asia’s finest vegan cities.
23 items? That’s all there are? 23? Peta then also provide a link to this web page below (Update: Peta in response to our article have changed the web link in their article from that in the screenshot below to the much better corresponding facebook page. We commend Peta for at least responding to our article by recognising their original web link was poorly chosen to support their argument of a thriving vegan scene. There are further entities endorsed in the Peta article that Peta would be better to remove).
Member since October 2016; items sold, 63. 63? That’s barely one per day. If this is the evidence for Makati as a vegan hub, the mind boggles at how difficult it must be being vegan in the rest of the Philippines.
It’s interesting that Peta very specifically cherry pick Makati as the best the Philippines has. This is rather than nominate the massive Manila metropolitan area of which Makati is one of 16 municipalities. Wikipedia currently describes Makati as:
“41st most densely populated city in the world with 19,336 inhabitants per square kilometer. Although its population is just half a million, the daytime population of the city is estimated to be more than one million during a typical working day because of the large number of people who go to the city to work, shop, and do business.”
* All those people and this above is the best Makati has to offer?
* If comparing Makati with the equivalent cherry picked cultural centre within places like Tokyo then the weak case for Makati becomes even poorer
* Similarly compare Metro Manila with the equivalent area within somewhere like metropolitan Tokyo. Again Manila has a lot of catching up to do
* See how many non-Philippino published vegan (or even wider vegetarian) top tens there are that include a Philippine entry in the top 10
This all supports the reputation of the Philippines as:-
- the most challenging country to be vegan in SE Asia
- one of the most challenging places in the world to be vegan
So why would someone at Peta Asia make such a desperate attempt to try to convince people Makati is a vegan hub? We added the arrow to this screenshot from the “about” page on the Peta Asia website.
So as a minimum there seems to be some local bias powering the Peta article. Is there also some money changing hands for a mention in Peta articles? Or maybe some free food & drinks? Bear in mind previously Peta Asia (based in Asia’s most populous catholic nation), named the head of the Catholic Church as their person of the year. Thus that Peta Asia have restrained themselves to only rate Makati fourth is a relatively commendable display of discipline by their standards.
So if we deservedly kick Makati out the top ten (maybe it’d get in the top 1000?), which city can we slide in as a credible replacement at number four? Tokyo has 60 (sixty) all vegan restaurants according to HappyCow. This is more than any other city in Asia and some contrast to Makati’s small handful. And Peta bizarrely don’t rate Tokyo even in their top 10. Or per capita Tel Aviv is much closer in population to Makati and has 18 all vegan restaurants. Israel has the largest percentage of vegans per capita in the world. This informative press article on the blossoming Israeli vegan scene includes this insight on why veganism resonates there.
She was recruited to the cause by watching a video of vegan guru Gary Yourofsky, who compares eating meat to the Nazi Holocaust. “As an Israeli, I cannot close my eyes. I don’t want to be like those people during the Holocaust who said they did not know,” she said.
Peta omitting Tel Aviv is beyond absurd.
Number 5 on Peta’s list is somewhere I admit a warm personal connection to. To sum up the three best things from three months working in Bangalore; lovely people, a great winter climate and if you take some care, delicious vegan food. There’s a massive abundance of vegetarian food available in Bangalore. Don’t let that though relax you into an unjustified level of feeling vegan safe. India is the number one milk producing country in the world. Dairy is a big pitfall for vegans to watch out for if you are lucky enough to go there. Peta refer to two all vegan restaurants in Bangalore (neither of them are based on Indian cuisine. Vegan restos in India based on Indian cuisine are rare anywhere because of the high culture of dairy consumption). If you look on the HappyCow Bangalore page to see how many vegan restos there are across the city there are just the two that Peta mentioned. The other Bangalore supporting info from Peta includes this statement:
“the group Vegan Bengaluru, which organises monthly potlucks and outreach activities and offers tips on vegan eating.”
The people behind Vegan Bengaluru are to be genuinely commended for their work. Are “monthly potlucks and outreach activities and offers tips on vegan eating” really so remarkable? Remarkable enough to rate Bangalore with its two vegan restos as the 5th most vegan friendly city in Asia? In the social media age it would be more remarkable if there wasn’t a vegan group in Bangalore. That Bangalore gets such an elevated Peta rating, is there someone from Bangalore working for Peta Asia? Or is this just an attempt to include the world’s second most populous nation in the reach of the Peta article? I like Bangalore and look forward to returning one day. Until more vegetarian restos ditch the dairy though there’s a lot to be done before it gets near a best in Asia vegan top 10. Hopefully one day though campaigns such as this trying to raise awareness in India of the ills of dairy will make an impression.
At number 8 on Peta’s list of the most vegan friendly cities in Asia is Bali. Bali isn’t a city. This is a relatively minor semantic point and to be fair Bali is a fine choice for a more vegan friendly holiday. We are taking Bali out the list here since we’re working on another soon to be published list where Bali sits much better. So to take Bali’s place here how about Kyoto and it’s 30 all vegan restos?
Peta’s vegan Hong Kong endorsements include some real baloney. Peta name only five of Hong Kong’s all vegan restos. They then list another monument to slaughter, Cali Mex. Cali Mex (like 101 Hawker Food House mentioned above), has a small vegan section in a menu dominated by animal death.
(Cali Mex menu. Big on dead animals, low on vegan)
Peta also make this comment:
“Hong Kong is also home to Green Common, an all-vegetarian supermarket”
As reported before we spoke with the leadership team at the recently opened (and demised) Soul Concept. They told us that the Green Monday people behind Green Common advised them not to make their menu all vegan. This is little surprise considering Green Monday are more than happy to partner with the body that controls the Hong Kong horse racing industry.
(Green Monday and the horse racing industry. “Riding High Together”)
So again with all of Asia to choose from; why on earth are Green Monday who discourage veganism and endorse animal abusive sport being promoted by Peta? As per articles such as at this link Peta claim to be anti horse racing. Is there some sort of relationship between Peta and the Green Monday people? What will Peta endorse next? McDonald’s? Dog fighting? Peta publish garbage like that and expect people to donate money to them to pay salaries?
This is the key point about the Peta article. Peta have all of Asia to choose from for their article. Peta should not have prioritised giving invaluable publicity to entities that have such a small level of vegan embracement. By those we mean the likes of meat heavy restaurants like 101 Hawker Food House and Cali Mex and also horse racing industry partners such as Green Monday / Green Common. Instead of Green Common for example, Peta could have endorsed Hong Kong’s One Vegan Shop (there’s a clue in the name as to what One Vegan Shop is all about). Further there are many Peta chosen examples that contradict their assertions of thriving vegan scenes and instead present a struggling image. The Peta article content is poor and isn’t just harmless fun.
(A screenshot from One Vegan Shop’s website)
Last but by no means least, Peta’s choice of Shanghai is likely just an attempt to increase the reach of the article into the world’s most populous nation. It’s nowhere near the silliness of their Makati rating. Kuala Lumpur though has far more happening on the vegan scene. So with the changes suggested above this would be a better Asia Top 10 vegan friendly cities:-
3 Chiang Mai
4 Tel Aviv
6 Hong Kong
9 Ho Chi Minh City
10 Kuala Lumpur
And just to make it a top 20:-
13 Da Nang
And hopefully with some erosion of dairy consumption in India we can at some point get some Indian cities in the list.
Any better cities to suggest?