She has been a vegetarian for more than 20 years. Despite having a full-time job as an office worker, she is devoted to promoting plant-based diet. She is the chairman of Hong Kong Vegan Association and the representative for Hong Kong IV, Asia Pacific Vegetarian Union. The development of Hong Kong Vegan Association is closely tied to her life experience.
When she was small, she loved watching the baby chickens. She had always wanted to keep chicks but her mother didn’t let her. It was where her love for animals stemmed from. She realized the cruelty of carnivorous diet at twenty something. Feeling stressed at work, she joined yoga and meditation classes in Raja Yoga for spiritual practice. Nonviolence is an important idea for spirituality. Animals raised on factory farming suffered and it is violent to take the lives of another living being. Moreover, Shara pointed out that factory farming cuases serious environmental pollution; runoff of animal waste can poison the waterways and destroy the aquatic ecosystem. She believes that eating meat would accumulate negative emotions of animals in human bodies, and harm people’s metal health. She has gone vegetarian since then.
It was not easy as she had a strong craving for meat. She began with meat substitute and step by step she has become a vegan. Meanwhile, her vegan lifestyle influenced the eating habits of her family and pets. To gain family support, not only did she explained to her mother the benefits of having vegetarian diets, but also cooked delicious vegetarian food for her. If it is healthy to eat meat-free food for humans, should it be the same for animals? She thought about the possibilities of her cats going vegan. She looked for vegetarian pet food online and had a little experiment on her cats. She found that her cats were energetic as usual, may even be healthier, as they have not visited the doctors after being veggie. What is more, she has adopted a vegan lifestyle. She avoided consuming animal products such as cosmetics that were tested on animals, and she no longer watched animal performances in zoos and circuses.
On the other hand, she was so determined to promote veganism that she made a website for it in 2008. There were not many online resources for creating a webpage at that time, so she went to a web design class. Her persistence and passion later attracted like-minded people. One of them was Dr. John Wedderburn, the founder of Hong Kong Vegan Association (was named Hong Kong Vegan Society before). Approaching retirement, he saw Shara’s website and invited her to take over his work. There Shara started promoting veganism under the organization.
Shara likes travelling and enjoys tasting vegetarian meals around the world. Also in 2008, she discovered Meetup when she was searching for vegetarian restaurants online in Tokyo. There was a Meetup group for vegetarians which everyone was welcomed to join. Moreover, she went to Vegefood Festa in Yoyogi Park. It was a pleasure to walk along the path and tries various vegan food for her. All these experiences inspired her. After returning to Hong Kong, she founded Meat Free Hong Kong on Meetup.com in 2009. Meat Free Hong Kong was called Meat Free Mondays at the very beginning. She would choose a vegetarian or vegan restaurant each week and invite group members to go for dinner on Mondays. But soon the group meet more often for vegetarian meals. The group has gathered about 4300 members, including vegans, vegetarians, and people who are simply interested in meet free food. In 2014, Hong Kong Vegan Association cooperated with different organizations to deliver Hong Kong Vegfest. In the same year, it issued Goveg magazine, the first bilingual green and vegan lifestyle magazine in Asia. Majority of people may adopt plant-based diet because of health reasons, rather than the sustainability of veganism and its contribution to the well-being of humans and animals, Shara is happy that there is greater awareness and interest in plant-based diet.