The doors at SimplyRaw Express have been open for just over a month now. So early into this new venture, and I feel like we have come a long way already, learned a lot; and also realize that we have a lot more to learn! Neither Natasha or myself have ever owned or managed a restaurant, cafe, juice bar, or anything other than a home-based business. I worked in a restaurant when I was 16 (a few years ago now), as a dishwasher. So, I for one, am remarkably impressed with how well we’ve managed the business so far; and incredibly impressed with the support and dedication of our staff members – Monica, Amanda, and Anne; and the many people from our community who have come out to volunteer in our kitchen to help us get up and running.
I’ve been reflecting on this venture and journey, and have (out of necessity) focused heavily on the operational restaurant aspects of the business. But, SimplyRaw Express is not just a business or a restaurant. It’s a mission. And the mission is pretty clear – to help empower people to take control of their own health, to learn more about healthier living, and preventative health care, and to help people change and improve their lives. A big part of this is education, awareness and a self-reflexive realization of the impact and effect of our choices in life – that we have the we have the power to affect change in ourselves, in others, and our world.
For Natasha this journey spans most of her life, as she talks about in her TedX talk. For me it largely started when Natasha and I met, and I realized how little fresh fruits and vegetables I was eating (despite already being vegan, and eco-conscious). From there SimplyRaw came to life, and since then we’ve worked together on this mission to reach out to the Ottawa community: organizing a monthly community potluck in the heart of the Glebe for over 7 years to give people first-hand opportunities to experience a wonderful variety of raw vegan foods. The largest potluck brought together over 100 people; and we were privileged to host some amazing speakers over the years! We organized a non-profit community festival for 4 years that started out with the idea of a raw food pie contest to showcase the beauty, simplicity, and exquisite flavor of raw foods. The festival evolved into a multi-day event that brought together thousands of people from the community; dozens of local organizations; and a host of world-renowned preventative health care speakers like Dr. Brian Clement from the Hippocrates Health Institute. To bring together more people around this common goal I founded the National Capital Vegetarian Association as a non-profit organization to promote the health benefits of a plant-based diet. And after dozens of talks, seminars, and community events, we are now delighted to continue bringing this powerful, life transforming knowledge of healthier living to Ottawa in a new, more directly accessible way.
Over the years I’ve witnessed first hand through Natasha’s detox program the incredible transformations that are possible in people’s lives when they make simple changes to incorporate more fresh plant-based foods into their lifestyle. Eliminating foods laden with chemicals, dyes, preservatives, artificial colors, etc – all the crap listed on the side of most boxes, bags or jars that most ‘food’ comes in – and replacing them with foods that nourish, cleanse and replenish the body, can have some absolutely incredible impacts on improving your health.
In one short month I’ve already had lots of people thank us for opening SimplyRaw Express, for bringing the knowledge and resources to help empower them to make healthier choices. I’ve had people tell me that we saved their lives – from a sick society obsessed and ignorant from the trappings of mass-produced petro-chemical food products that destroy the life in your cells; and the pharmaceuticals prescribed to cover the symptoms of illness while further destroying any life remaining in our cells.
This is real food!
Made from fresh, whole ingredients, with no chemical dyes, preservatives, additives, etc. Everything here was grown in a field and prepared fresh in our kitchen. Plain, simple; nutritious & delicious!
I am vegan and will be for the rest of my life, and for the health of my life. Would I like for everyone who comes through the doors of SimplyRaw Express to leave a vegan? Hell yes. But, I’ll be happy if we make even a slight difference in people’s lives by exposing them to another way of living, a healthier alternative, and a more enlightened life. Even if we just make someone feel better after drinking a bottle of our juice, or snacking on a delicious dehydrated macaroon!
Maybe our choices and approach are not for everyone. But as I started out saying, we have a mission, and the business is only here to fuel that mission. We want to make a difference in the lives of others, to help people make a difference in their own lives – for their health, and the health of our community & planet.