The US has Meatless Monday, and China has Green Monday. Now, in Hong Kong, there's also something that other countries will be jealous of: An app that pays users to eat vegan.

Pay-a-Vegan is an app that pays out $1 when users upload a receipt that shows they purchased a vegan meal.  The $1 credit can be redeemed at the app’s partner restaurants in Hong Kong. (Hello, sign us up.  We want this to come to the US, please!)

Not only does the app incentive and reward customers for ordering plant-based items, but it also encourages more restaurants in Hong-Kong to offer vegan options. Eiko Onishi, founder of the app, called Pay-a-Vegan, wants to provide tangible incentives for consumers to eat plant-based foods, and also encourage restaurants to offer vegan items. “Instead of convincing people to open a new, purely vegan restaurant, it’s easier to ask regular restaurants to perhaps increase their vegan options,” Onishi told Post Magazine.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Onishi worked in her family’s decorations business before deciding last year to shift careers. She enrolled in a start-up accelerator called Founder Institute, which incu­bates green businesses, and Pay-a-Vegan was born. Once she has the backing of investors and government grants, she hopes to launch the app in June.

Her goal is to incentivize diners and restaurants to seek and serve food from animal ingredients, especially outside the island's Westernized bubble and in traditionally meat-heavy restaurants.  Pay-a-Vegan could be a key driver in Hong Kong’s move towards a more sustainable future, one green “V” on the menu at a time.

“What is the problem with going vegetarian or vegan once a while?” asks Onishi. “Especially this time of year, Chinese people are eating a lot of meat and seafood at banquets. I want to change that, though I’m not asking people to not eat meat at all."

Our only question: When will she bring it to our neck of the woods? We'd be getting paid three times a day!

Lauren James joined SCMP as part of the Young Post team in 2015, before moving to the Culture desk in 2017. Originally from the UK, she enjoys writing about arts and entertainment, environmental issues, health and fitness, technology and food. She is an avid gig-goer and passionate about Hong Kong's music scene.

While private companies like Onishi’s are helping fuel plant-based eating, the Chinese government recognizes the benefits of shifting away from animal-based foods. China’s Ministry of Health cut its official guidelines for the recommended daily intake of meat in 2016 by nearly 50 percent. The Chinese government's plan to reduce its citizens’ meat consumption by was a move that climate campaigners are optimistic will help in the global warming reduction effort.

Onishi says she is still seeking financial backing from investors and government grants, but that app is slated to launch in June 2020.  And when will it be available in America? Stay tuned.

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