Monday, August 20, 2012

Food Hero Tuesday: Angie Palmer of From the U.S. to Hong Kong

Angie Palmer

Note from the Editor: Every Tuesday, TFT HK will bring you a post or article from/about one of our local or global food heroes. These are people who inspire us, and whose visions align with the values that TFT espouses and promotes. This week's post is an interview with Angie Palmer, creator of the vegan lifestyle blog From the US to Hong Kong. Angie works in communications for GR8 Leisure Concept, and also manages to find time for acting, modeling, and writing projects outside of her blog. Angie, we at TFT HK salute you!

Hey Angie! Thanks for chatting with us today. Tell us about yourself!

I'm the Director of Communications for GR8 Leisure Concept, which specialises in the investment, development and management of hotels, restaurants and serviced apartments. We focus a lot on fun and unique concepts like boutique hotels and specialty restaurants. On the side, I do acting and producing for films and other creative projects.

Before moving back to Hong Kong, I ran a boutique PR firm that worked with indie filmmakers, creative entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations in the U.S. My specialty is in online marketing and social media, so naturally social networks and blogs are among the tools in my social toolbox. What made me start blogging was actually my job as a reporter and producer for a local website and TV station in New Mexico. I decided to create original content and share videos and press releases so people in New Mexico could find interesting information and events. Now that I've become vegan, people kept asking me what I eat and where I shop in Hong Kong, so I decided to repurpose that blog into a green, health and vegan blog to share my stories and experiences. It's working out really well as people have been amazed at the number of restaurants where vegans can eat!

It sounds like you've had an exciting and diverse professional life! When did you become vegan? How does being vegan in HK compare to your experience in other cities you've lived in?

I became vegan more than 4 years ago when I was in the U.S. Being a vegan in Hong Kong feels like being the minority of minority. I was surprised that it's a relatively foreign idea here. Most people don't understand what vegan means. The funny thing is that I'm often asked if I eat fish.

Grocery shopping isn't as easy and inexpensive as in the U.S., especially for fresh, organic produce. The variety and quality aren't impressive in Hong Kong. Luckily, this world trend is slowly being picked up by forward-thinking entrepreneurs and restauranteurs here, so there are now many options for vegans when eating out.

How does your experience as a food blogger here compare to that in other cities you've lived in?

It has been a fun journey. Vegan food bloggers aren't as popular here so people find my posts intriguing. I also slip in some stories in my acting and filming world from time to time and my followers seem to enjoy reading my updates here in Hong Kong.

It's exciting that the Hong Kong response to your blog has been so positive, and that you're bringing veganism and a green lifestyle into the spotlight. What are your favorite things about eating in HK? What don't you like about it?

Favorite: Price. You can find an inexpensive vegetarian or vegan lunch meal for as little as HK$20.

Dislike: Too much mock meat in Asian vegetarian eateries. I would like to see more western vegan, organic, whole-food dishes - nothing fake!

I have to say I also find mock meat somewhat terrifying. How do you choose the topics of your blog posts?

I think about story ideas when I'm walking, getting ready to go to bed or taking a tram. Whatever I see, eat or touch can be an inspiration for my next post. I update my blog once a day and there is never a shortage of ideas or topics.

What's your favorite spot to eat in the world?

Loving Hut Reynoldsburg in Columbus, Ohio, United States. Food is epic.

Oh wow, who would've thought Columbus, Ohio would be a haven for vegans? There's a Loving Hut here too, but I'm sure you've checked it out! What's your favorite restaurant in Hong Kong?

Vegelink on Java Road in North Point. Great food, friendly staff and reasonable price. I love their grocery store right next to the restaurant too.

It sounds like a gem! Who are your food heroes and why? Outside of the food world, who inspires you?

Colin Campbell, Pam Popper, Eriyah Flynn and many more. They inspired and taught me how to live better. My health, including my skin and energy level, has improved dramatically.

Outside of the food world, Gandhi and Martin Luthur King Jr.

Very worthy sources of inspiration. Do you cook? If so, what are your "go-to" recipes?

Yes. I recommend recipes on Simple, easy and healthy.

Thank you so much again for sharing with us today. Anything else you want our readers to know about you?

I'm a free-spirited hippieish gypsy who is not afraid of being different, though Hong Kong is all about being mainstream. Being a vegan is not just a diet, it's a lifestyle, a philosophy, a value system. If people can live happily and healthily, without killing or harming another being, then why not? Veganism and Buddhism are like sisters. Here are my favorite quotes from two people who inspire me.

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Gandhi

"Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it politic? Vanity asks the question, Is it popular? But conscience asks the question, Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right." - Martin Luther King Jr.

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