Take 5 with... Simon Newstead



This week - we present Simon Newstead - a veganism-focused entrepreneur and the creator of ‘Vegans Hong Kong’ group!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, and what about Hong Kong makes it special and makes you stay?
Hi!  I'm Simon, from Melbourne originally, and now spend my time between Hong Kong and Melbourne. Hong Kong is such a unique and special city, I love the can do attitude, the people, the wonderful and growing vegan community and the mix of cultures and outlooks that come together in this small space.  Being so close to China is also a bonus.

2. What's important to you, and how do these values affect your professional choices?
What's important to me is to try to do my part to reduce suffering in this world, of which there is too much, for both fellow humans and trillions of land and marine animals who die each year unnecessarily. Practically that means, trying to do well in my main startup so I have more resources to devote to these causes, and also invest and help get more vegan projects off the ground, learn and share and support the community as much as possible, through our groups like Vegans Hong Kong which a few of us founded together earlier this year.

3. What are your thoughts on the average Hong Kong diet? And how do you think HK Vegans' initiatives like meet-ups, movie screenings, etc can influence what ends on a typical HK-plate?

Hong Kong unfortunately eats way too much meat, clocking in at one of the world's highest per capita consumptions. To change that (which we urgently must, to have any chance to avoid climate change's worst predictions), I think we need to do a few things. First we need more and better and cheaper vegan alternative foods most of all.  Next we need to encourage and welcome meat eaters to know the benefits (personal, health, saving money, environment, animals) and also make it trendy and fun.  That can be through movie screenings, social media, in person events, celebrities - lots of ways. Finally I hope there can be a growing movement of kindness and empathy, getting satisfaction from helping others than just ourselves.

4. What do you think is the most difficult and the most rewarding part of promoting and advocating for a vegan diet and vegan lifestyle?

Difficult is just hours in the day, and figuring out how to prioritise for maximum impact. For example, I don't do as much street outreach activities these days because perhaps spending that same time on vegan food projects could potentially have a lot wider impact. Sometimes those calculations are easy, sometimes they are hard.. and often it's hard to get a good balance or rest and relaxation vs hard work. Rewarding is the feeling of putting in hard work for a good cause.  That's already enough.

5. What other interesting projects are you working on?

Bunch of new projects, next year should be huge. Apart from my day-job company which continues to grow, I'm helping launch a new mission-driven vegan chocolate product, plus a vegan handbag business in the first quarter of 2019. Also I do a bit of volunteering and angel investing in vegan/ethical companies, including a plant based seafood company, and a meat alternatives company who are both launching in Hong Kong shortly too. Also have setup a vegan founders community to help each other out, and many other things coming for Vegans Hong Kong  (eg the first vegan shopping walk coming up soon!). It's an exciting time.