MEET R PEOPLE: ENVIRONMENTALIST DAVID YEUNG
David Yeung is the intrepid environmentalist bringing vegetarianism out of the closet through Green Monday, the food movement he started in Asia that diverts meat from the fork whilst also bringing environmental awareness to the table.
What inspired you to start Green Monday?
I started Green Monday six years ago because I’m really passionate about motivating and advocating people about behaviour change to reduce their meat consumption, particularly in Asia where many people don't realise that the livestock industry is a major culprit for large carbon footprints that is causing serious negative environmental impacts, from typhoons in Hong Kong, fires in California to severe droughts in South Africa. I’m also personally appalled by many of today’s modern factory farming methods, which use horrific animal welfare practices. The harsh reality is that as our global population grows - from 7.5 billion today to close to 10 billion in 20-30 years time from now - we will certainly face harder times ahead unless we change now. That’s why I started Green Monday, because I believe small changes will amount to big impacts.
Since being vocal in the sustainable eating area, have your clothing tastes changed and why?
Yes, I’ve changed with my clothes too. I believe that once you start to change one aspect in your life – let’s say your eating, which just so happens to be a great anchor of behaviour change because we eat three times a day – then this conscious change will carry on through other aspects of your life. So with my approach to clothing, I’ve been more aware of reducing wastage and also, whenever possible, I am reducing my leather use.
What made you more interested in sustainable fashion?
I think if we’re talking about sustainability, you cannot just think of one single aspect in your life. Instead, you have to look at it holistically. I think with food and fashion - and really just with living in general so think transport and energy consumption too - the way we use materials must be respected more so that we don’t take our access to materials for granted.
What fashion and lifestyle changes have you made on a personal level to become more sustainable?
Firstly, I’ve reduced buying ‘things’ that will just be one-offs or that I won’t wear for a long time. Obviously, a lot of people like to use new things, particularly with fashion, but I think hard about the durability and quality of items I use, as well as functionality. And yes, of course, style is also important to me! I always go for styles that will last me long, so that timeless element is very important to me.
If you could influence the menswear market, what would you do?
If I could influence the menswear market, I would first, encourage the use of recycled materials in mens fashion. Second, reduce leather usage, which in turn would reduce the demand for animal-related products, which carry such a high environmental costs. As much as leather is sometimes considered a hardy and essential menswear item – think shoes, belts and jackets - men could consider other non-leather materials as replacements that will still function and look great, but which will have a lower environmental impact.
What suggestions do you have to get people involved, what resources to use, who to follow on social media and books to read?
I suggest everyone to follow Green Monday’s social media and website as we don't just talk about food. We also promote and discuss issues in Hong Kong and around the world, so it’s a great place for information and discussions. For books, I’m keen on the author Naomi Klein.