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Teeranard Chokwatana: Lifelong Advocate Of Food Security And Sustainability

Teeranard Chokwatana: Lifelong Advocate Of Food Security And Sustainability

      Vegetarianism has long been proposed as a healthy lifestyle, and well before meat alternatives became easily available in Thailand, Ms Teeranard Chokwatana began to promote soy-based meat substitutes and vegan diets. Elite+ sat down with Ms Teeranard to learn about the benefits of soy foods and how meat alternatives can support the global initiatives for substantiality.

     Ms Teeranard established The Vegetarian Cottage in 1991, followed by SPA Foods meat alternatives, Nutrition House and I Foods. She holds a diploma in Diet and Nutrition and is an alumnus of London Business School. In addition to her interests in food, Ms Teeranard is involved in many other businesses, including an industrial estate, security guard company and research laboratory. Still, her true passion has been pioneering the creation of soy meat alternatives. It is a labour of love that she has pursued for over 30 years.

     At the 6th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing & Treating Chronic Disease, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for “Outstanding Contributions in Promoting Consumer Awareness and Use of Soy Foods”. She explained, “I consider sustainability and food security to be one of the most important challenges we are facing. Promoting soy meat alternatives is part of the solution to enhance health not only for us, but for the planet.”

     She went on to recall her personal journey following a vegan lifestyle. “After witnessing the trauma of my dear mother suffering painfully and passing away from cancer, I decided to stop eating meat. I had tried and failed twice before this. Shortly after, I lost my father whilst he was suffering from Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Because of these experiences and more, I believe these chronic diseases are connected to the food we eat.

     “In 1991, I opened my fine dining meat-free restaurant, ‘The Vegetarian Cottage’. It was to make available healthy and delicious meat alternatives to the public in addition to myself. At that time, most vegetarians ate only tofu, soy chunks or gluten. They were mainly religious-style foods, which I found boring and not nutritious at all.”

    Spanning a period of three decades, Ms Teeranard considers herself a passionate advocate of vegan lifestyle and meat substitutes. “My desire is to create plant-based meats mostly from non-GMO soy protein. Through research and development, I have learned the skills required to create SPA (Soy Protein Advanced) Foods. It is a delicious meat alternative that is satisfying and healthy.”

     In her journey to promote meat-free alternative diets, she openly admitted to encountering obstacles and social resistance. “It was challenging for the public to understand my concept of plant-based gourmet cuisine. At first, there were very few meat alternatives, and they were of poor quality, mostly made from animal feed. Vegetarian food was mainly boring and tasteless without texture. It catered to strict religious groups. Promoting delicious meat-free dining accompanied by wine was a novel experience. I could not live without the satisfaction and enjoyment of plant-based meat alternatives. These substitutes are great for meat lovers, vegetarians, vegans, the health conscious and the environment. I was not motivated by profit. My goal was to develop the best products without concern for price. If I had not done this, I would not have been in this situation today. I just followed my passion.”

 

 

     On the subject of adopting a vegan lifestyle, which may seem a lofty goal, Elite+ asked Ms Teeranard for suggestions for those interested in adopting more healthy eating habits. She commented, “The reason why I am doing this is because I enjoy the taste and texture of meat, but I do not want to eat flesh. This is why I have emulated its taste and texture from soy. I do this for those who enjoy good food and wish to live healthily and sustainably.

     “Soy is a miracle plant. It has a complete protein profile, and meat like textures can be created. It is the solution to protect not only our health, but also the planet.”

     Throughout the years, much research has been conducted on a healthy vegan lifestyle. Ms Teeranard, when asked her views, said, “A good example is the great work the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has done to warn of the carcinogenic dangers in consuming red and processed meats.. I am indebted to the advice of the late Dr Sheila Bingham of MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Cambridge. I would also like to mention Dr Mark Messina, who disproved the myths that soy was dangerous and has tirelessly researched and documented the great properties of soy that can benefit health. It was my privilege to be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Dr Messina at The 6th Soy Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing & Treating Chronic Disease in Chicago".

     On her plans and visions for the continued expansion of Spa Foods Ms Teeranard enthusiastically disclosed, “We intend to make SPA Foods available to a wider geographic area. It is fortunate that in the beginning I was not concerned about profit. Through research and development, I learned how to create high quality delicious and nutritious meat alternatives. With this knowledge, I can now retain quality and be competitive in price.”

 

 

     She then added, “The world is now starting to experience food shortages. If we continue as we are, how can we expect to survive? We need to become more sustainable before we reach the point of no return. We must use less of our precious resources and reduce pollution. To produce one kilo of beef, seven to eight kilograms of grain and a total of 15,000 litres of water are needed. If consumed directly, the same amount of grain would feed a family of four for one week who would also consume much less water. Alternatively, these could be used to produce seven to eight kilograms of meat substitutes. SPA Foods meat alternatives is a way to make food secure and sustainable without sacrificing the textures and flavours the general public so loves.”

     As our interview drew to a close, Ms Teeranard emphasized further, “The most important challenge the world is facing is the threat of Global Warming. Our food system must become sustainable and secure.

     “Global warming is causing floods, droughts and wildfires that we now see on a daily basis. It places our ability to produce food for a continuously growing population at risk. Growing crops is sustainable. It uses far less of our precious resources and does not pollute as animal agriculture does.

     “With a SPA Foods soy meat alternative diet, you can enjoy delicious food that is not only healthy for us, but also for our planet.”

 

 

In the business community, she serves on the Board of Directors with the Thai-Hong Kong Trade Association. Kathy is on the Thailand Tatler Magazine Expat Society The 200 List. She is the Honorary Columnist and contributing writer to a few leading English magazines. She and her husband, RADM Dr Boonyarit Pokrud have one son who is currently based in Boston, USA.

Kathleen Pokrud

In the business community, she serves on the Board of Directors with the Thai-Hong Kong Trade Association. Kathy is on the Thailand Tatler Magazine Expat Society The 200 List. She is the Honorary Columnist and contributing writer to a few leading English magazines. She and her husband, RADM Dr Boonyarit Pokrud have one son who is currently based in Boston, USA.