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Lifestyle Asia Bangkok speaks to Chef Gaggan Anand and Dr Jon Cybulski on ‘The Future of Food’ for National Geographic Asia’s inaugural ‘Planet Possible Day.’

A world leader in geography, cartography, and exploration – National Geographic Asia launches their first-ever ‘Planet Possible Day.’ In partnership with regional National Geographic explorers and changemakers, the cast of this inaugural event gathers award-winning chefs, actors and actresses, marine biologists, and more to inform, inspire, and enable individuals to live more lightly on the planet.

‘Planet Possible Day’

plant possible day
Image credit: National Geographic Asia

Lifestyle Asia Bangkok speaks to two cast members Gaggan Anand and Dr Jon Cybulski regarding their take on ‘The Future of Food.’ The award-winning chef and marine ecologist share their professional opinion on food sustainability, the lifestyle changes restaurants and consumers can make to contribute to food sustainability, and more. 

Chef Gaggan Anand talks his own sustainability practices

planet possible day gaggan anand
Image credit: National Geographic Asia

“When you focus on making the food too fine, you tend to forget responsibility.” 

How the famous Gaggan Anand restaurant is reducing waste

The notorious Indian-born Bangkok-based chef shares his experience as a restaurateur on food sustainability and food wastage. For this award-winning chef, it’s the accumulation of little things that leads to the minimisation of wastage. “It all begins with ingredients and recipes. In terms of fine-dining, sometimes, when you’re focused on making the food too fine, you tend to forget responsibility. Minimising food wastage begins with the idea and responsibility that there should be no waste. Case in point, when people are dining at my restaurant, I want them to eat everything on the plate to avoid food wastage.” Like many environmental activists, Chef Gaggan Anand touches upon the responsibility towards the environment of the people at the top of the hierarchy. “The ones at the highest end waste the most. The ones with the highest power and the most resources waste the most. The people at the top do to the least to save the planet.” 

On becoming a more environmentally aware chef

When asked what he, as a chef and restaurateur, is doing to make his restaurant more sustainable, Gaggan explains that sustainability is a step-by-step process. Although you can never truly achieve 100% sustainability, he and his team try as hard as they can and do the best they can. Banning single-use plastic, enforcing suppliers to deliver products in a sustainable manner, and not selling watered bottles are a few steps the celebrated chef has taken to embrace sustainability. 

“Food sustainability is a whole package. It’s ingredients, it’s recipes, it’s cooking, it’s lifestyle, it’s ideas. It’s a whole idea to recycle life and everything around it,” says Chef Gaggan.

Dr Jon Cybulski on how people can live more sustainably

planet possible day jon cybulski
Image credit: National Geographic Asia

“The poorest people tend to be the most sustainable.” 

Other than replacing plastic straws with metal straws and plastic bags with cloth bags, here are the lifestyle changes we, as individuals and as a community, can make in order to become more sustainable on a daily basis, according to Hong Kong-based marine and historical ecologist Dr Jon Cybulski.

1. Eat local

“Firstly, eat locally-sourced food as much as you can,” says Cybulski. “The poorest people tend to be the most sustainable due to a lack of access to non-locally-sourced foods.”

2. Research your food sources

“Educate yourself on locally-sourced products and sustainability because being educated and implementing the relevant means is what leads to the reduction of carbon footprint and increased food sustainability.

In recent years, a lot of people have turned to a more plant-based diet for environmental reasons. Dr Jon Cybulski says that although “meat tends to be the least sustainable, a locally-sourced homegrown chicken may be more sustainable than imported bananas. It’s important to think about where the food that you’re eating is coming from and understand what ‘sustainable’ means to you. If you don’t eat meat but you’re eating processed meat that’s produced and sourced internationally, it’s not exactly the most sustainable way to alter your diet.” Consequently, this makes us question whether the ‘where’ is more important than the ‘what.’ More specifically, whether where the food that we’re eating is coming from is more important than what is the food that we are eating.

3. Plan your meals

“This is something that a lot of us, including me, don’t do enough of but it’s probably the most effective,” says Cybulski. “When meals are planned ahead of time, ingredients are bought accordingly. Hence, resulting in reduced wastage. A great first step is to limit food that you know is unsustainable,” says Dr Jon.

‘Planet Possible day’ airs live this Sunday, 24 October 2021 at 5.00 pm on National Geographic Asia’s Facebook page.

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