I've wanted to start a food business for as long as I can remember. Since I started bunking off sixth form to watch Ready Steady Cook and began experimenting in the kitchen.
A love of food plus a desire to promote a plant-based diet has led me to this point. Even if it did take 19 years and a handful of failed attempts. Failure's cool now anyway. Essential in fact. So we're good.
Plant-based meal pots
Ever been peckish on a train or plane and thought: ‘One day someone’s going to offer better plant-based food on trains and planes’? I did. Enter Plant Pod.
Plant Pod will be a range of nutritious, delicious, plant-based, instant meal pots. But I'm in the early stages of developing them. So in the meantime I'll be sharing my food startup journey along with tips, how-tos and inspiration on how to eat a plant-based diet that's as fun as it is fulfilling.
Vitamins for vegans
Tell someone you're following a vegan diet and they'll inevitably ask 'But how do you get your protein?" Not too many ask how you get your B vitamins, omegas, calcium and amino acids. Not unless you have a friend who's a nutritionist (I do). But it's something you need to put some thought into as they're easily missed if you don't plan accordingly. Plant Pod meal pots contain them all.
Nutrition vs convenience vs satisfaction
There's often a trade off to be made between nutrition, convenience and satisfaction when you're out and about and trying to follow a plant-based diet. Sure, you could eat a bag of nuts or a banana, but that doesn't really make for a meal. And so, borne out of my own such frustrations, Plant Pod meal pots are a) tasty, b) nutritious, c) convenient (you just add water), and d) filling (as they're full of fibre and protein).
The product development journey
I've been developing the recipes in my kitchen at home for a while now, perfecting the flavours and compositions. And I'm about to unleash them on the public to get their feedback. Starting with a free tasting stall at the #Veganuary Market at The Wardrobe in Leeds on Saturday 19th January. And I'll be gathering more feedback over the next couple of months, tweaking the recipes based on that feedback, before going into full production mode this spring (if all goes well). So you may well see Plant Pod meal pots pop up on a train, at a gym, or in a coffee shop near you in the not-too-distant future.
Plant-based cookery classes
So those are the meal pots. But I have more up my culinary sleeve.
In July last year I went to LA to take a plant-based culinary course at Plantlab, a world-renowned school for which students would travel from one side of the world to the other to take a 4-week course (as did I), to learn how to create other-worldly food plates such as this.
In a bizarre turn of events this happened shortly after I attended the course, and the school ceases to be, which is an incredible shame as it was unbelievable. The creative wizardry, the inventiveness and the attention to detail were all gob-smacking. The school was originally established by the esteemed Matthew Kenney, and while his genius was present in the food, recipes, curriculum, methods, teaching style and the brilliant instructors, the business side was sadly mismanaged, to put it politely.
Anyway. I learned so much and was so inspired, both from the training but also from just soaking up all that LA's food, drink and wellbeing scene had to offer (a lot - ours pales in comparison here in the UK). A drop of CBD oil in your water here, a bit of activated charcoal there, a rub of this big crystal, and you're all set for the day.
So I'll be taking what I learned over there and running some cookery classes here in the UK. Get in touch if you're interested in learning how to make spectacular vegan food that's as instagram-worthy as it is nutritionally balanced. Classes can be 121s, groups, hen dos, parties... whatever the occasion. Find out more and contact me on this page.
Plant-based projects and consultancy
I'm also looking to get involved in some interesting plant-based projects - anything from menu development, recipes and food styling, to pop-up events and content marketing for brands. Find out more and contact me on this page if you have a project you'd like to discuss.
Network for plant-based entrepreneurs
If you're a fellow plant-based entrepreneur you'll know how helpful it is to be able to bounce ideas off others and share problems as well as solutions with those who know where you're coming from. So I've set up a chat group to do just that. Come join the pod!
Follow for tips, how-tos and inspiration
If you follow @plant_pod on Instagram you'll get lots of tips and inspiration on how to eat a plant-based diet that's nutritionally complete, easy on the eye, and the best food you've tasted in a long time.
I truly believe that plants + people = power and that 2019 will be a groundbreaking year for the number of people following a plant-based diet - just look at all the new offerings popping up in supermarkets and restaurants. The industry is taking notice and things are finally looking up for animals and the environment. My goal is for Plant Pod to play a role in driving further positive change.