Over time, Yoda’s Private Catering (now Yoda's Kitchen) has become known as “the healthy caterer” in town.
When I initially set out to start a catering business this wasn’t necessarily part of the plan, but as I continued to cook from my heart and cook the kind of food that I love to eat, it sortof just… happened. Growing up, my family always used what was in season and what we could source close to home. This was way before the word “local” became a trend. We did what was affordable and what made sense including growing a lot of our own food, eating big salads and staying away from junk food.
These days, our food system is much more complex. There is a lot happening in the world of food. A lot of it is inspiring (see London Gets Local, Vegfest London Ontario, Growing Chefs! Ontario, Booch Organic Kombucha, McSmith’s Organic Farm, Food is Free Project, Globally Local, and many more), but a lot of it is very, very concerning.
We have an obesity epidemic. We cannot keep unhealthy food out of the hands of children. Sugar is added to almost everything on the store shelves. Candy costs less than organic fruit. It’s become really hard to eat healthy and make responsible choices these days. Instead of letting these things get to me, I decided to take charge of my own life, personally and professionally, and started to ask myself “What decisions can I make that will help save our planet and the health of my family and clients?”
When I started developing my catering menus and core philosophy, I realized one of the best choices I could make, and one of the best things I could do for my clients, was to always source my meat from responsible, organic farmers that I know and trust. As my small business grew, it became increasingly difficult meet the ‘meat’ demand. This is one of the biggest reasons I started leaning towards plant based food in many of my menus, and in my personal life. The fact of the matter is that eating plant based food, growing it yourself or being part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) does make a huge difference in our food system.
Food is political and whether we like it or not, our decisions matter.
By standing up for something I believe in, and by voting with my dollar, I can help create a shift in the world. d to take a good look at how animals are raised, and how the meat I used was sourced, my eyes became open and I didn't like what I saw. I took to the books and started feverishly researching the goings-on of the meat industry. I read blogs, bought every book I could find, spent days in the library and asked every farmer who would talk to me. You don't need me to tell you that what I discovered was incredibly disturbing. We've all seen the posters and videos - you may have even watched a few documentaries on the subject. But what I really learned was that all of the things I was seeing, but somehow pushing to the back of my mind so I didn't have to think about them while I still served meat, were true. Dogs really are EXACTLY like pigs. Fish really DO have feelings. The majority of the meat I was buying, even from small family farms, DOES have a negative impact on the environment.
I realized, after months of research, that I could no longer participate in this way of life. I could no longer support factory farms, massive corporations who do not care about animals, the fishing & seafood market or any part of the meat industry for that matter. I came to realize that farming meat is truly devastating to the environment, and for the most part, an incredibly cruel process. As a company (and person) who strives to be kind to mother earth, how could I justify purchasing a product that had to be shipped 50+km away to be killed? How could I justify being part of an industry that is largely based on the idea of 'how many animals can we kill in the shortest amount of time?" How could I justify participating in something that made my stomach turn when I actually sat and thought about it? I think a lot of people know that there is something really wrong with the way humans get meat... even just a few minutes of research will bring you to this conclusion. I can't be ignorant to it, and I can't hide behind wrapping everything in bacon. I knew something big what about to happen in my world... it just took me a while to see it.
You might be asking why I didn't just stick with purchasing meat from those small farms I spoke of earlier. This has been one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life. The friendships I have built with these people is profound, and the last thing I want to do is to cut ties with anyone. But I realize, in the words of the Lorax "Unless someone like you, cares an awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
By standing up for something I believe in, and by voting with my dollar, I can help create a shift in the world. I really believe that.
So, by essentially boycotting the meat industry in its entirety, I can tell big farms that I do not support their way of thinking. I can tell grocery stores that I do not agree with putting a life 'on sale for 30% off'. I can tell those who are curious, that it's okay to go against the grain. I can tell my customers that I am doing something important, something compassionate, and something that is bigger than myself.
There is no ONE reason why I stopped serving meat. There are so many reasons that I have realized after the research that I've gone through, and will continue to do. I am open minded and strong willed. I believe in truth and facts. Meat, in all forms, just doesn't make sense to me, and it doesn't feel right. Despite my family connection to butchering, and despite my deep rooted personal connections with the farming community, this is something that I know I have to do. For me it came down to the simple fact that I fell in love with a dog, once I opened my eyes, I couldn’t see my dog as anything different than a pig. Research shows that, essentially, a dog IS a pig, (is a cow, is a chicken, is a fish...) in every way imaginable except their name. I would never be able to kill, butcher or eat a dog... Would you?
If you have questions about this post, or anything related to this subject, please feel free to ask. We are open to peaceful discussions at Yoda's Kitchen and realize that this way of eating is not for everyone, but we hope you will give it a chance. There are many different points of view related to this topic, but when it comes down to it, I have decided to Vote with My Dollar - to choose a business a model that is in line with my way of life and my beliefs. To go against the grain, even though that is a difficult thing to do.
So, with all that being said, that is why we don't serve meat, fish or seafood at Yoda's Kitchen. It was a decision that was not made lightly but one that we whole heartedly believe in. We still love our farmers for everything they do, and encourage everyone to do their own research on the meat industry. Trust me, it won't be easy, but nothing worth it ever is. ♡
This has been a big transition for us, and for our regular clients, but we want you to know that our philosophy is not changing…. it’s evolving.
We pride ourselves for being the healthy chef in town, and will continue to bring the city of London and St Thomas healthy, homemade, locally sourced food made from scratch, with lots of love! ♥
Help us spread the word: use the hashtags #yodaskitchen #letyodacookforyou #thehealthychef and send your veg loving friends our way!