The expression ‘Cart Before the Horse’ comes to mind very much when I think of how I’ve went about things with pretty much everything I’ve done in my life.
I started teaching Yoga before I had ever been to a Yoga class. I headed off to India to learn how to teach it before I had ever been to a Yoga studio or even knew one Yoga teacher. I started YogaHub cause it seemed like a good idea at the time. No business plan or acumen, finance or place to open even!
So then when I hosted the Indian teacher Yogrishi Vishvketu or ‘Vishva’ here in Dublin who I studied with in Rishikesh, Northern India we ended up eating a lot of ‘Happy Food’ as he calls it. During his stay he lived at my normal ‘laddish’ apartment. Clean enough for lads. Beer cans on the mantelpiece in the living room. A healthy amount of glass bottles in the recycle bin. Eggs for breakfast with Coffee. Steak medium rare for dinner. Not forgetting a fair amount of take away boxes lying around the place.
This might or might not sound like ‘Happy Food’ to you however this is not Vishva’s idea of it. Vishva is a Yogi who started to live the Yogic life since the age of 5 when he went to live at his uncle’s ashram. Yogis are lacto-vegetarian meaning they do not eat the meat of any animals or eggs. They do consume cow’s milk though. In Yogic Philosophy the first principle of the ‘Yamas’ (A code of conduct to live your life by) is ‘Ahimsa’ or Non-Violence. Non-Violence to yourself or any other living being. So that is where the whole not eating other beings comes from.
I was completely unfamiliar with cooking ‘Happy Food’ so we ended up in Cornucopia quite a lot over the course of one week. It was during one of our last (of many) visits to Cornucopia that week that I thought to myself, I’m going to open a Vegetarian restaurant and I’m going to call it Happy Food.
Coming back to ‘The Cart Before the Horse’. I had absolutely no experience of running let alone owning a restaurant. I had no money to do it. No experience of Vegetarian or Vegan food other than eating it. And I was pretty sure I was going to do it!
It’s absolutely unbelievable what gets thrown in front of you when you set intentions. I think it was only 2 weeks after Vishva left Dublin that my flatmate Sean and I were in a flea market getting something to eat. It was super funky and I knew my girlfriend Lenka would love it so I brought her there the following week for food. When we got there the stall was vacant. Bummer! Light bulb moment. The recession was in full swing in Ireland and Lenka’s hours were dropping more and more at her job so in our naivety we agreed to embark on this business opportunity together! We asked who was running the market and immediately expressed an interest in renting the stall.
I might add at this point YogaHub was nowhere near stable. To start another business venture was, in hindsight, insane. Further neither Lenka nor myself had any experience of Vegetarian or Vegan cooking. People presumed that we were Vegetarian or Vegan before we even started. You might be picking up from this blog so far that that’s just not how I do things 🙂 It just seemed like a good business to open, I loved vegetarian food and…………….do you know I didn’t really think about the ins and outs of it. I just got it in my head and off we went.
So three years later I’m writing this. We have come from a tiny market stall to owning a restaurant and yoga studio in Dublin city centre. It has tested our relationship many many times. I mean I don’t think we were with each other very long before we got this brainwave. Lenka has taken the Happy Food idea and turned it into something very special. She has put everything she has emotionally into it and it can be tasted in the food. YogaHub needed my full focus and luckily enough Lenka is a much better well everything than me so she took the reins with Happy Food from the very start. We are both now Vegan which I would never ever have imagined even one year ago.
I do believe everything happens for a reason and it makes me feel really good that we are in business and what we sell doesn’t harm any living thing and helps our customers to live healthier lives. I’m going to be honest and say that I was just like a lot of people and thought that those ‘Vegans’ are a complete pain in the ass. Then we started to see what’s actually happening within our food supply and how it impacts the animals, the environment and ourselves. And then of course we started to meet people from Vegan groups who started to frequent Happy Food and realised these are some of the most compassionate people you will ever meet!
So I’m very recently Vegan and my concerns were that I would lose loads of weight, feel exhausted a lot of the time, be iron deficient, lose muscle mass and crave meat like a drug.
I’m 95kg. I’m in the gym 3-4 times per week. I try to balance my training between cardio, strength training and Yoga and I have to say I feel stronger. I have more energy and not less like I thought I would. I don’t crave meat of any description at all. In fact I just don’t want it. It gives me great peace of mind that I’m not harming any other living thing by what I choose to sustain my body and I feel calmer and more content. Now if that’s not an inadvertent sales pitch for you I don’t know what is.
My experience so far is that yes it is difficult. You never think how much of our food contains animal products (particularly dairy) until you look for alternatives. And at home too. It’s a complete adjust. Taking all of that into consideration it has never been easier either. There are 1000s of people on social media offering their time and knowledge to help others to begin to eat more plant-based. It actually becomes quite fun and your body will thank you for it. No matter what your belief system tells you it is an absolutely insane existence eating meat in every single meal every day of your life.
I’m pretty certain that us humans will look back at this era and think how crazy we were in our lifestyle and dietary choices. Working through my own experiences with addiction I have begun to look around and see how many people have obvious addictions to food. Our associations with the levels of abundance we have created for ourselves are far far from mindful or in any way healthy. I want to make a commitment to show you how easy it is to eat more plant-based and how enjoyable it is. In truth if I can do it anyone can.
Let me know if you are considering it, have tried it or are stone cold against it even? Until next time!