Healthy plant based food for the community

Husband-and-wife duo Jason and Monica John are holding their “Live Lo-Mein” - instead of using regular starch or flour based noodles, the couple uses zucchini and squash to make noodles using a device called a Spiralizer. No cooking required.
Jason John

How many plants find their way onto your dinner plate? We all love a balanced dish of rice and peas, macaroni pie, and some sort of chicken but what about that daily dose of vegetable packed with the nutrients to keep our bodies healthy?

Providing a few appetizers and main dishes to fold into your diet – without proposing you to ditch meat – is husband-and-wife duo Jason and Monica John.

Their new business, Plant Based For You, provides plant based recipes for entrepreneurs on the go looking to add a splash of green to their diet.

“We are a company that specializes in teaching busy entrepreneurs and professionals how to incorporate more plant based meals into their diet. That doesn’t mean anti-meat or anti-fish, it just means more healthy, nutritious, non-vending machine, non-fast-food, prepared by yourself or someone else,” Jason John explained.

The vegan couple’s company operates as more than just a collection of accessible recipes for all who are interested in leading a healthier lifestyle. The John’s view Plant Based For You as a platform to educate and advocate for minority companies who are underrepresented in the plant based movement.

“What we do is provide a platform and a support system for those people looking to have a healthier lifestyle but don’t know where to start,” Monica John said.

Personally facing opposition from families and friends during their own lifestyle change, the entrepreneurial couple want to engage the African American community with the right education so that no matter what their socio-economic level is they are armed with the knowledge of choice.

Launched in August, the couple has crafted a menu featuring six dishes including their kale salad, a raw plantain salad, a savory chick pea pancake with cashew cream, a pineapple fried quinoa, spicy mango zucchini noodles, and sunshine burgers — foundationally based in brown rice and sunflower seeds. Thanks to curiosity, their food is not necessarily a hard sale; this is, in part, due to their use of familiar ingredients such as plantain and curry.

“Your tongue has memory and what you do is access that memory of the tongue and the body so that it feels like home and that’s where you can pull people in,” she explained. “Bringing something to somebody that they’re already familiar with so that there isn’t that opposition because they already know what it is.”

Their healthy recipes did not happen over night. John, who has been a vegetarian for 20 years prior to starting the company, relishes on the fact that just because you are on a particular diet does not necessarily mean you are healthy.

“Just because you’re a vegetarian or vegan, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. I found out that I had late-adopted eczema and my wife had issues with her colon. We felt that for the benefit for ourselves so that we can be here for our daughter and our community that we would start eating better and teach others to eat better,” he said.

Their commitment to their community drives their motivation to take Plant Based For You to the next level. A photographer by trade, John implements group business economics in each of his photography lessons at various schools he teaches and his approach to expanding his business.

In the coming months, he and his wife intend to expand their business to include an assortment of products — deodorants, shampoos, body butters, tooth paste etc. — a restaurant that they will co-own with a friend who owns a juicing company, and a delivery service that will provide plant based milks.

“I stress this on my students that they become producers and not consumers because the black community needs people who are making things as opposed to just buying things and not having that money circle within the community,” he said.

“Our passion is to help and educate people so that’s what Plant Based For You represents; it represents accessibility, education, advocacy, and support,” Monica John added.

With this operating as the purpose behind the brand, the couple’s entrepreneurial pursuits are more than just being their own bosses — it is their way of being the change they hope to see in their own communities.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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