Grow Your Roots Cafe - Melanie
Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up just outside of the city, the country is bliss for me. I’ve always loved all animals. I’m passionate about what I do and now that I’m running a vegan restaurant, I believe I’ve always meant to. I’m wildly unpredictable when it comes to new ideas, but thankfully I have a husband who tolerates that, hah! I think I’m strong, hard working, fun and outgoing, but really I just love to wear my rubber boots, drink a whisky and hangout with my fur kids and family!
When did you personally make the move to become vegan?
I became vegan about 8 years ago. I don’t remember a specific day or anything drastic. I just decided that loving and respecting animals as much as I do, I couldn’t contribute to that industry anymore.
When did you decide you wanted to make food your business?
Being vegan 8 years ago was extremely different than what it is now. And I also lived in an area where hunting and typical “meat and potatoes” was life. I was forced to learn how to cook. Nobody supported my decision at the beginning, it was a joke. But learning how to cook vegan sparked something in me. I felt like I discovered the best way to live and an easy way to share it with other people was feed them delicious vegan food. So that they too could see leaving animals/animal by-products of their plate wasn’t a sacrifice of nutrition or flavour.
You also offer cooking classes! How can someone make an effort to cook healthy food that is sustainable without loosing the flavour?
Yes! This is something I hope to do more frequently in the future as well.
I like people to know that I never took any culinary training whatsoever, I’m self taught. So if I can learn, so can you! The best flavour comes from fresh herbs and spices and (scratch made) sauces and dressings. Those elements are important in creating a great dish. It can be simplified if you think about just swamping your main substance. Tofu for chicken for example. Nobody bakes a chicken with nothing on it. You add spices and salt and pepper and sauces and roast vegetables and more. So do that with tofu or faux meat instead. Cooking vegan is not about what you are giving up, but what you are gaining.
We met your 'fur children', and while you have a cat and dog your animal family extends to some roosters and the amazing Vinny and George who are both rescue pigs. When you adopted them, did you know what you were getting into?
I’ve always wanted a farm! The opportunity to adopt our pigs were both on random occasions. But I’ve always done my research before adopting. It was new to us and came natural, my husband and I love living with property and a farm. I definitely only recommend having pigs if you’re in the country though, I personally think it’s the happiest place for them.
What will be the next farm pet?
We would love a donkey, and I’ve always wanted a duck since I was little, but really whatever animal needs a home has a place here!
When you aren't running the restaurant and taking care of Vinnie, George and the others what do you do for fun?
I love to run. It’s always been a calming blissful thing for me. Running a business has made it difficult to be consistent but that’s sometime I’m working on that. Mini vacays with my husband eating vegan food is my favourite get away. And spending nights sitting around a fire by the lake with family and friends is probably my favourite thing to do on the weekends.
How do you hope to inspire your customers?
I really want people to experience the gratifying changes eating a vegan diet can offer. We surround our lives around food. It not only fuels us but it creates this amazing intimate platform we use to spend time with family and friends and co-workers. So if I can show people that they can still have all of that with their food but veganized,- I think I am doing a big thing.
As a business owner what has been the biggest challenge?
I think for me there are two huge challenges of being a business owner. 1 is learning to accept that it’s okay to make mistakes, and to figure out how to learn from them. And 2 fighting a work and personal life balance. I’ve given so many things up and so much time up with my husband and my friends and my family and more, but I really do believe I have this purpose in life so that’s what keeps me going. I think all business owners struggle with this balance.
What or who is your biggest inspiration?
My mom. She is incredible. While my dad I think gave me my very strong work ethic, my mom is strong at everything. I would not have the success I have without her. She is incredibly intelligent and the single most thoughtful and selfless person I will ever know.
If you could serve a delicious healthy meal to one famous Canadian who would it be?
Probably Ryan Reynolds. He’s hilarious, Canadian and obviously sexy!