The Green Family winning team ©TRAFFIC

What's cooking in Viet Nam

The Green Family winning team ©TRAFFIC


Published 11 January 2017


Cooking up a storm to encourage legal and sustainable foods for the Lunar New Year holidays, instead of threatened wildlife

Hanoi, Viet Nam, 11th January 2017TRAFFIC and the Centre for Women and Development (CWD) held a cooking competition in Hanoi on 8th January where nearly 100 people showed their commitment to wildlife protection. 

The event titled “Cooking Masters Competition” was held at the CWD headquarters to engage members of the business community to consume only legal and sustainably sourced food during the holiday season, and all year round. The event highlighted the importance of adopting zero-tolerance to threatened wildlife consumption to ensure that holidays like the lunar new year are celebrated responsibly.

Madelon Willemsen, Head of Office for TRAFFIC in Viet Nam said, “We are holding this competition with CWD because Vietnamese women have a great deal of influence in their families.  They are providers, protectors, and teachers to the people around them. We want to drive the message that they can protect the people they care about by using legal and sustainably sourced foods.”

TRAFFIC research shows that women in Viet Nam can play an integral role in reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife products. A 2013 IPSOS study on buyer behaviour found that women in Viet Nam comprised a sizeable percentage of rhino horn consumers and buyers.  Over three quarters of the people who said they were only buyers, not consumers, were women.

Using insights on the motivators for purchasing illegal wildlife like rhino horn, TRAFFIC partnered with CWD to engage women around Viet Nam, particularly in the business sector. By engaging women in business, TRAFFIC is enlisting key opinion leaders that want to take a stand against wildlife crimes.   

The event opened with musical performance by ­­­the youth group Rainbow – HV.  Then, participants learned about wildlife crime and consumption and how to adopt corporate social responsibility policies to reduce demand for threatened wildlife.  They learned what kind of activities they can implement to reduce wildlife crime, like displaying Chi messages and encouraging others to pledge to abstain from consuming illegally traded wildlife.

The main event was a Masterchef-style cooking competition between seven teams of three or four members. The contestants in each team represented family members cooking together for the holidays. These teams faced-off to see who could create the best vegetarian dishes in under 70 minutes. 

Mr. Pham Tuan Hai from Masterchef Viet Nam and Mr. Tran Bao Son – Ambassador of TRAFFIC’s Chi Initiative to reduce demand for rhino horn – joined the event to guide the teams and judge their dishes on their quality, presentation, and the overall message that each dish conveys.  They delivered speeches calling for responsible consumption. They also committed to further promoting Chi messages to the businesses and the public.  

Ms. Pham Thi Huong Giang said, “The lunar New year is the largest and the most important occasion for families to celebrate together. Some people in Viet Nam view wild animals, including rhino horn, as something to be gifted or consumed for holidays and special occasions. We are holding this event to push back against that notion.  

This is an innovative way to promote a good cause like wildlife protection. Together, we can change the way people think of wild species so animal populations aren’t threatened by destructive consumption. Future generations should have the opportunity to benefit from global biodiversity like we do.

Ms. Pham Thi Huong Giang

At the end of the competition, participants signed pledges not to consume illegally traded wildlife and committed to displaying messages that promote legal and responsible practices to conserve wildlife.

This event is part of an ongoing initiative that targets the most prolific buyers and consumers of threatened wildlife products to shift their behaviour away from illegal and unsustainable activities. This project is funded by the Peace Parks Foundation and the French Development Agency (AfD) in partnership with WWF.  TRAFFIC is working to engage communities throughout Viet Nam to instil zero-tolerance to wildlife consumption and create a network of key opinion leaders that can stop destructive habits and reduce wildlife crime.


The team names for the competition were: Luong Chuyen Private Company, Phu Quy Agricultural Company, Tue Tinh Traditional Medicine College, Peaceful House (CWD), TRAFFIC & WWF, Life Project for Youth, and the Green Family (CWD Partner)