Leading the plant-based revolution

More people are opting for vegan food after finding out how it is beneficial to health and the environment 

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pic courtesy of LJS

ONCE considered a fringe dietary pursuit, a plant-based lifestyle is now a global movement that is growing at warp speed. 

With more research on how plant-based foods are both beneficial to health and the environment, more people are opting for vegan food. 

A global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively, by 2050. 

People are becoming increasingly mindful of their health, their family’s wellbeing, as well as the planet, and this is reshaping the way we make our decisions on our purchases, which includes the meals we order or cook, to the type of milk in our coffee. 

La Juiceria Group co-founder Anabelle Co-Martinent sees more innovative menus, suppliers and products in the country that are helping people to switch to plantbased food more easily. 

“In a recent study, they found that one in eight Brits, or almost 13% of their population, is now vegetarian or vegan, with a further 21% identifying as ‘flexitarian’. This means a third of their population have chosen meat-free or meat-reduced diets. 

“In Malaysia, we are seeing a growing number of people who are opting for healthier meals, and with the pandemic upon us, the whole focus on health has been magnified. People are switching or adopting a more flexitarian lifestyle mostly because of health as well as sustainability,” she told The Malaysian Reserve. 

La Juiceria’s cold-pressed juices started in 2013 with the mindset of making it easy for Malaysians to become healthy. And with the launch of La Juiceria Superfoods (LJS) in 2015, the tasty and healthy meals made its way to Kuala Lumpur-ite’s lifestyle permanently until today. 

Over the years, the brand kept innovating its offerings to keep it exciting for Malaysians to choose healthier options. 

Small Change, Big Impact 

As part of the brand’s commitment to a better “YOU”, LJS seeks to lead the movement on making plant-based options a norm. This means leading in terms of “not penalising” the people who choose to eat or drink plant-based. 

Some of the notable changes LJS made includes switching all dairy yogurt to plant-based coconut yogurt for all the smoothies’ range, removing extra charges for switching to plant-based milk for coffee options, improved formula for sauces and dressings, becoming completely plant-based and added several plant-based bowls, dishes and wider variety of add-ons like extra toppings (mushrooms, avocados). 

“We want to welcome everyone to try the flexitarian lifestyle. Choosing a no or low meat lifestyle is made easier at our restaurants, anytime anyone is ready to do so. 

“We’re hoping that the changes we take, the small decisions we make, even one meal at a time, can have a positive impact on our health and the planet,” she added. 

Powerful Collaborationsthat Make a Difference

By embracing plant-based options, LJS bring different genres of vegetarian delights to their customers. In 2020, it launched burgers with Beyond Meat in collaboration with a local burger chain called MyBurgerLab. 

In 2021, LJS launched another burger with Nestlé’s Harvest Gourmet. And now in 2022, the group is kicking off the new Tiger year with a collaboration with Phuture Foods Sdn Bhd, with some exciting Japanese-themed warm bowls. 

To help people to embark on an easier, yet satisfying and tasty meatless journey, the two brands have curated three Japanese katsu curry variations served with Phuture’s High Fibre Chick’n — Phuture Katsu Salad, Phuture Katsu Bowl and Phuture Omu Katsu Bowl. 

The meatless katsu High Fiber Chick’n by Phuture is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, you can’t even tell it’s meatless. 

Dubbed as the #BestChick’nOnEarth, underneath the golden katsu crust, it’s full of essential minerals, calcium, plant protein, potassium, iron and ridiculously high plant fibre. At 13g of plant fibre per serving, this approximately equates to five bananas, six apples or 65 strawberries! 

The great thing of going meatless — no animal hormones, no animal antibiotics, no cholesterol, no transfat and no artificial colouring. 

“Phuture Food is one of the pioneers on plant-based alternative protein in Malaysia, and we are happy to have found a sustainable source in our home country. This makes things simpler for everyone — from planning, sourcing, to pricing and planning the roll out. 

“Hence, expect more collaborations down the line. I think the plant-based segment will continue to grow,” Anabelle explained. 

On expansion plan, she said currently there are 10 LJS outlets. 

“We have one scheduled to open this year within the Bukit Jalil area. We want to take things one step at a time. Some of us in the food and beverage industry are still recovering from the Movement Control Order and pandemic effects on our businesses,” she said.