Reading Time: 4 minutes The founders of Eat Chay have been attacked in broad daylight on multiple occasions (Photo: Eat Chay) 
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The founders of a London vegan business have spoken out about racist attacks they have faced in the UK – and how the coronavirus has recently been used to justify these attacks.

Eat Chay was founded in 2017 by Liz Nguyen and Joe Tam, serving food inspired by their East Asian heritage.

Now Nguyen and Tam have revealed how they face racism ‘on the daily’ – and how the recent spread of the coronavirus has been ‘used as an excuse to publicly discriminate, bully and assault people’.

Racist attacks

The pair took to Instagram to describe some of their recent horrific experiences, in a post saying: “For a lot of people, racism is something that happens in the news, or in the comment section on social media, or in a video someone filmed of an incident happened far away.?

“For us, racism happens on the daily. Yesterday on our way to work, we got spat on, in broad daylight, on a train full of people. The guy proceeded to shout and curse at us, threatened and provoked us, all because we were Asian. We never said a single word.”

Nguyen and Tam describe these incidents as scary and life-threatening, revealing that while there were other passengers around, no one got involved, or even offered any words of comfort after the attack.

Told to ‘go home’

There were more incidents highlighted in the post: “Just last week a woman looked at us with disgust and shouted ‘why don’t you people go home’. A few days ago when we sat down on a train, a man who was sitting in front of us immediately moved to sit elsewhere away from us.”

They added that these kinds of attacks have been happening throughout the 11 years they’ve been in the UK, rocks have been thrown at them, they’ve been repeated told to ‘go home’ and ‘go back to Chinatown’, and treated ‘like [they] were less than human’, among other abuse.

“It happens so often it becomes the norm, becomes something we just shake off and carry on with our day. But it shouldn’t be,” they wrote.


They ended the post speaking about how the Coronavirus outbreak ‘has been used as an excuse to publicly discriminate, bully and assault people’, adding that ‘a lot of businesses owned by East Asian people have also been affected’.

The post concluded by saying: “We’re not sharing this to seek sympathy. We want to be strong and not let these incidents affect us. But being silent isn’t being strong. And we’re grateful to have a platform and a voice to raise awareness.

“We can’t tell you what to do. But we can tell you this: an act of kindness goes a long way, especially in this climate of fear. If you see someone being treated unfairly, help them, in any way that you can. And please don’t let fear and paranoia dictate your actions.”

Skyrocketing racism

According to reports, there has been a ‘shocking’ level of racism directed at Chinese people across the UK since news of the coronavirus broke. The Guardian reported cases from Manchester, Sheffield, York, and Derbyshire among other areas.

Legal advisor Jason Ngan told the paper that he overheard people in a lift with him and his brother saying ‘we’ll be in trouble if these guys sneeze on us’.

“People seem to have put a whole race behind it and it’s exposing all these underlying prejudices towards Chinese people, or at least anyone who looks Chinese. It’s shocking in this day and age. It was so blatant,” Ngan added.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.