Becoming a Greedy Khao <3
I should probably take this opportunity to introduce myself. I’m Lee! I cofounded Greedy Khao with my partner Faai – a super-talented Thai chef who makes some of the very best Thai food that I’ve ever had. I'm also a recent convert to the vegan lifestyle. Shortly after, Greedy Khao made the great leap from traditional Thai food to being the first all-vegan, all-Thai brand in the UK. Here's our story!
In late 2016, I convinced Faai to start Greedy Khao with me because I was completely in love with her cooking, and wanted to get those bold, fresh, traditional Thai flavours out there. As summer 2017 approached, Greedy Khao began to scale up production, and had to start sourcing meat at greater volume. This lead us to visiting Smithfield Market in the wee hours of the morning.
It was there that I first came face-to-face with some grisly realities. For me, there was something profoundly unsettling about standing among dozens of swinging, bloody pig corpses, talking money with dead-eyed butchers at 4am. It started me down a path of reading articles and watching documentaries that profoundly altered my perception.
Of course, I’d always been aware that factory farming can be cruel, animal agriculture harms the environment, and a diet high in processed meats can cause all kinds of health issues. But these had always been somewhat abstract notions that I didn’t think too deeply about, possibly because I loved eating all kinds of animal products, and didn’t WANT to know too much.
My first response was to adopt a ‘semi-vegetarian’ diet. For a couple of months, I ate vegetarian during the week, and allowed myself to eat whatever at weekends. But then a couple of other influential events occurred. The first was that I was blown away with the quality, variety and downright deliciousness vegan food on offer at a vegan street food event GK attended. The second was that I watched the harrowing but eye-opening documentary ‘Earthlings’, which demonstrates just how broken our relationship with other animals has become. From then on, I decided that I could no longer contribute to the animal agriculture industry.
Now, Greedy Khao has always had vegan options. Faai’s grandfather has been vegan for 35 years, even founding vegetarian societies in her native Bangkok. So this has always been part of her culinary repertoire. For the couple of months following my adoption of veganism, our goal with Greedy Khao was simply to increase the number of vegan options we offer – we reasoned that by offering a ‘flexitarian’ menu, we would reach more people, and help a greater number of people to make the decision to eat less meat.
But there was always going to be something of an ethical dilemma with that approach. By continuing to offer meat, we were continuing to fund the very industry that I was taking a stand against with my dietary choices. To complicate matters further, there was a financial dilemma pushing in the opposite direction – up to that point, the majority of our business has come from selling meat-based Thai classics. Losing the regular customers that we spent months building up could potentially be business suicide – and several of our customers told us just that.
Meanwhile, with all this going on, Faai was quietly experimenting more and more with veganizing a whole bunch of traditional Thai dishes. She was enjoying getting super-creative with switching out all those sneaky animal products, and the results were blowing me away every single time. This wasn’t just the authentic, full-flavoured traditional Thai food that I’d come to expect from Faai’s cooking – this was something really special.
It didn’t take long for us to make the decision to pivot Greedy Khao into a full, committed, no-tuning-back vegan business. Immediately it was like a weight had lifted – we had clarity, a sense of purpose, and a renewed passion. Our food was getting rave reviews from everyone who tested it, and our brand suddenly had a compelling identity as the only all-vegan, Thai specialist brand in London.
And so - Greedy Khao was reborn, and we've never looked back!
Here's to an ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free future!