Founder and CEO at Haofood, China
Can you be changing outdated food systems into something much more plant-based, sustainable, and animal friendly, while not necessarily identifying as vegan? Oh, absolutely! For Astrid Prajogo, it went something like this:
“Being Indonesian, I have a strong relationship with the oceans. We swam, snorkelled, and dove in the ocean at every possible moment since our childhood. It gave us so much happiness,” she recalls. “At one of my dive sessions in Bali eight years ago, I started to notice more and more corals colour changing to white. That momentum really woke me up, like: “Whoa, climate change indeed is very real”. It got me thinking that if climate change is real, then it might as well soon be difficult for us to source the best quality of food ingredients. Things don’t always have to be as easy and as affordable as they are today.” As a foodie (and also a human), imagining scarcity around great tasting food truly shook her up.
“Tasty plant-based meat can help non-vegans better support their vegan loved ones.”
Inspirations, go-to’s and lifehacks:
- Pandemic lifehack that helped you survive 2021: Practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking without thinking or “arriving” anywhere. Not only in 2021 but for the last fifteen years.
- A person that inspires you: Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Last series/movie that kept you awake: Emily in Paris (so hilarious!)
- Favorite book / A book everyone should read: Anger and How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Latest podcast obsession: I don’t have any favorite podcast. Yet I most often hear podcasts from my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and my mentors in Plum Village.
- App you find most valuable: Plum Village App
- Favorite food / favorite vegan treat: Baguette, French country bread and typical stir fry vegetable in Cantonese style
First, she couldn’t imagine going vegan. “It felt like a never-ending conflict within myself: I knew I had to change the way I ate to sustain my happiness from good food, and one major way to do so was by reducing my meat intake, but I didn’t like the taste of the vegan meat I knew. I am sure I was not alone in this.” Things started shifting the day she ate Beyond Burger and Impossible Meat. “Then I understood. Those products were so different in taste and texture from the traditional Chinese vegetarian meat I thought was my only alternative! It inspired me to create one hell of a great-tasting plant-based chicken,” Astrid says of her defining moment.
Seventeen years of experience in entrepreneurship, ranging from creative communication to gastronomy, seemed like a good basis to build on. A proud Indonesian who moved to China 23 years ago, Astrid previously built Good Indonesian Food, served at the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, and by doing so, brought many people to experience the rich and varied local, authentic culture. She could do something similar in the plant-based protein industry, while being on the journey herself. Haofood, her Shanghai-based vegan chicken company using peanut protein as a base, saw the light of the day in 2020. “An added motivation was my 9 year old daughter going vegetarian overnight. While I was very proud of her, as a mother, I found it stressful because she couldn’t find anything to eat, and I was worried about whether she’d get the right nutrients.
“I want to empower people to experience the wonder and the magical charm of food, and make them happier through it, forever.”
“When I do something, I give it my 100% dedication. I only want the best of the best, nothing but the best. Otherwise, I won’t do it. And when I do, it always pays off for me. If I don’t get the result that I projected, at least I got great learnings and it helped me leap.” Within one year, they grew from 4 founding members into a team of 20 people, and from 0 restaurants to now 150 restaurant outlets. Satisfied yet hungry for more, she’s working on something every mission-led entrepreneur knows intimately well: “How do I sustain myself efficiently and effectively for short, mid, and long term so that I can serve and lift others up?” Working 80 hour weeks, this is her major challenge to tackle. Long term, she mainly wishes to see people be more appreciative, attentive, and mindful with their choice of food. “I want to make sure that my children, our children, and our great-grandchildren are able to access good quality food at the most affordable price in the future.”
Astrid is one of the Food Heroes for 2022. See more inspiring and world-changing stories from Food Heroes here.