Ching-He Huang switched to plant-based eating after seeing how it could dramatically change people's lives.

Her husband, Jamie Cho, started Huang on a "journey of self discovery", the 42-year-old chef and presenter says. explains. Within a month of trying it himself, Cho noticed improvements in his asthma, eczema and psoriasis.

Of course, everyone's body is different and may react differently - it's worth checking with a medical professional if you're considering big diet changes, especially if you have existing health conditions - but for them, Huang says it was "quite a revelation".

It encouraged her to experiment with plant-based foods, which initially felt at odds with her background. "Being a Chinese chef, we experiment, and being a Chinese food connoisseur you've got to try everything," she confesses.

However, Huang did find plant-based eating aligned well with the Chinese philosophies she'd been brought up on by her family in Southern Taiwan.

"I've always believed in 'you are what you eat', [and] a balanced diet," she explains. "I grew up with my parents and my grandparents, and they eat seasonally.

"Think about yin and yang; balancing hot and cooling foods depending on your body, a little bit like the Indian Ayurvedic principle of eating. If you're tired and stressed, your body's very yang - if you're always cold and shivery, then your body's too yin, you're having too many yang and fiery foods."

So how do you balance this yin and yang? Firstly, Huang says: "You literally just need to listen to your gut" - then you'll be able to properly judge what your body needs. She remembers her grandmother saying if "you eat too many vegetables, you need to have ginger because vegetables are yin and ginger is very yang - it's fiery, so it balances your body. On a vegan diet, you need to have more garlic, ginger, chillies - more yang dishes," she explains. "Mostly, yang ingredients are from meat."

How you cook your meals also plays a part. "Steaming is more yin and stir-frying is more yang," says Huang. "Overall, we're trying to create the perfect balance. I think it's really hard in the modern day to try and create this balance - to even understand it - but I think food is a conduit to that.

"We could be bombarded with all this technology and science, but you actually have to listen to our instincts."

For Huang, it made sense to adopt a plant-based diet, saying it "aligns with who I am" - and the results make it worth it. Asked how she feels, she says: "Much healthier and lighter, I just have more energy - but obviously everyone should do what's right for them".

The chef doesn't just think about the personal reasons for going plant-based, but the bigger picture as well. She says: "If we look at ourselves as an entity, then look at ourselves in a greater picture, in a way it is a reflection of what we've done to this planet - the way we pollute the planet and the way we over-consume.

"Everything is about balance, so if we're out of balance, then we're going to be ill. The same thing; if we over-pollute the planet, it's not going to create the best environment for us."

Huang's personal journey led her to write Asian Green. It might be Huang's first fully vegan cookbook but it's her 10th overall, and stays true to her food ethos of getting "maximum flavour with minimum fuss".

Her recipes are democratic, she says. "Not all of us are from the same background, but we all love food and we want it to be a simple process. If you cook something and it works and you feel happy and satisfied about it, then you're more likely to cook again.

"Once people cook, it's a way to express love, because you're taking care of yourself. And once you learn how to cook and you're confident, then you know how to cook for somebody else."

For Huang, this is the ultimate way to show you care, and "if you choose to cook compassionately, then you're looking after the greater and you're extending your love to everything else".

Huang might look at things very philosophically but she does so with a light touch - and without any judgement. She just wants to encourage people to "try it for yourself". If you're thinking about a vegan diet, Huang recommends doing so with a group of friends, "so you're not alone".

She says simply: "Whether it's for animals, or your health, or you just want to try something new, I think people should celebrate more veg."

Let this plant-based 'cheesecake' transport you to a tropical island.

Not convinced vegan desserts can be luxurious?

Why not try Ching-He Huang's recipe for creamy mango and cashew 'cheesecake'...

Mango and cashew vegan cheesecake recipe


(Serves 10)

For the biscuit base:

200g fruity vegan oat biscuits

3tbsp mixed nut butter

For the cashew 'cheese' layer:

200g cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes then drained and rinsed

200ml coconut milk

400g plain coconut yogurt

1tbsp coconut cream

3tbsp golden syrup

Juice of 1 lime

Pinch of sea salt

For the fresh mango compote:

2 mangos, peeled, stoned and diced into 0.5cm cubes

4tbsp golden syrup

To garnish:

Zest and juice of 1 lime


1. To make the biscuit base, crush the biscuits in a food processor. Add the nut butter and process until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Clean the food processor.

2. Place all the cashew 'cheese' layer ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Line the base of a 26cm round glass cheesecake dish with the biscuit and nut butter mixture and press into place. Pour over the blended cashew 'cheese' mixture. Cover and let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the mango compote. Place the mango and golden syrup in a shallow frying pan over a medium heat. Stir gently to combine. Cook for two to three minutes until the mango has softened and the mixture is slightly sticky. Take off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes. To assemble, remove the 'cheesecake' from the refrigerator and top with the cooled mango compote. Just before serving, garnish with the lime zest and juice. Enjoy!

Asian Green: Everyday Plant-based Recipes Inspired By The East by Ching-He Huang, photography by Tamin Jones, is published by Kyle Books on February 11, priced £20.