From a better plate to a better planet
Last night my wife asked me if I felt that we were on the cusp of an upswing in vegetarianism. It wasn’t as casual a question as you might think.
Being the CEO of a delivery-only restaurant startup now serving 1000 meals a day, anticipating food trends (local sourcing, lower carbs, organic ingredients…) are critical to our business. If the menu doesn’t cater to those expectations, the consumer goes elsewhere. Especially when you are only online.
When we first launched a year ago, we offered a daily vegetarian alternative, which quite frankly, was a flop. So we ended up offering a fish, or at least a white-meat option. Until recently. In the last few months we started seeing an uptick in the number of clients requesting veggie options. So when we started expanding our selection of main courses, we started to make a concerted effort to include either a meat-free pasta or salad. True to our mission of making eating healthy easier for urban professionals
But it wasn’t until this month that we decided to systematically guarantee a vegetarian-friendly meal every day. Although Paris may be a gastronomic capital, if you don’t want to be limited to salads and pastas it’s much harder than you realize to eat out/order in.
I should know. I myself became a vegetarian in July. Overnight. After watching a documentary on the environmental impact of the meat industry. And although I didn’t miss the animal proteins, a healthy diet without them was tougher than I expected for someone who doesn’t have time to cook.
I founded our company precisely because I felt so strongly about the importance of making healthy, fresh food easy and accessible for people who do not have time to cook. That philosophy imposed the lower price point around which we had to make the business model work, and, to remain true to it, we had to embrace more eating lifestyles.
But now perhaps equally important to making life easier for people like myself, is the desire to have a positive impact on our planet. More studies are showing that animal agriculture is causing a multitude of environmental and health problems our world faces : climate change, fisheries depletion, deforestation, heart disease, obesity, diabetes,… History shows us that environmental disruptions can wipe out a civilization, especially if they impact the food supply. In 2050, the world might very likely be a different place if we don’t correct course.
On a personal level, I certainly wouldn’t impose my newfound views on my family, friends and colleagues, let alone on our customers, and we will continue to offer meat and fish dishes on our menu. Our diet is foundational to our society and our culture. Changes in the way we eat cannot be forced — they occur gradually.
My hope is that the quality and appeal of the vegetarian dishes we are now developing will soon be those in highest demand. And in doing so, as an entrepreneur — at my own humble scale — I can contribute to the sustainability of our lifestyles. One meal at a time.