Our mission is to bring zero-waste plant-based eating to the mainstream. Our vision is for edible dishes to be served across Canada, to have a greater impact on our addiction to single-use containers. Our goal is to be 100% sustainable, waste-free and locally sourced.Eat the Dishes, Marissa Bergeron
Vegan, Healthy, Sustainable and more to eat – sounds like my kinda thing. Recently, I was looking for dining options around the Vancouver area and came across Eat the Dishes. This immediately grabbed my attention because of the vision behind this idea. I had the amazing opportunity to interview Marissa Bergeron and learn more about Eat the Dishes, Sustainability and what we can all learn when starting businesses to make a change.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF 🙂
I’m Marissa Bergeron, I grew up here in British Columbia but have spent the last 8 years living in Dubai and traveling the world for work (talk about a large carbon footprint). I found, with time, the disconnect between my personal values and my career was too large. This led to me leaving Dubai to try and find a solution rather than be a part of the problem. I have been a passionate vegan for many years, but decided to start focusing on the environmental impact of my choices.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME MINDFUL OF LIVING AN ETHICAL AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY LIFESTYLE?
I became a vegan at around 18 years of age, after having been a vegetarian and growing up with a vegetarian mother. I didn’t really think about the waste connection to living an ethical life until I worked in the hospitality industry and saw first-hand the amount of plastic packaging and edible food waste produced. Working at an international airline, I felt a sense of disconnect from my actual values. Single-use plastic items rule the airline industry and the amount of waste left behind after passengers vacate each flight is appalling. All of this can be prevented if people learn to slow down a bit and become more conscientious of their actions and the impact they have on the environment
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START EAT THE DISHES?
I was shocked at the amount of waste produced in the Hospitality Industry. I knew I had to find a way to prove that street food could still be an enjoyable treat but without being detrimental to our planet
WHAT ARE YOUR MISSION, VISION AND GOALS THAT EAT THE DISHES PLANS TO ACCOMPLISH?
Our mission is to bring zero-waste plant-based eating to the mainstream. Our vision is for edible dishes to be served across Canada, to have a greater impact on our addiction to single-use containers. Our goal is to be 100% sustainable, waste-free and locally sourced.
WHAT KIND OF DELICIOUSNESS IS IN YOUR MENU? ANY AMAZING FAVOURITES?
We are a very new company so we are having a great time building our menu. So far we’re experimenting with different seasonal soups and pairing our freshly baked cups to compliment them. For example, our Thai Red Curry Soup is paired with a Turmeric Cup and Coconut Creme Fraiche
HOW DO YOU SOURCE ALL YOUR PRODUCTS?
Because we are still so small, we have been able to source our food through farmer’s markets. Once we have a bigger customer base, we plan on finding a local farm (We love Zaklan Farm so far) to provide seasonal produce to create our soups
THE MAIN CONCEPT OF EAT THE DISHES IS EATING THE DISHES! WHAT IS THE DISH MADE OF, HOW MUCH WORK WENT INTO IT, AND WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL, IN COMPARISON TO SOMETHING LIKE CHOWDER IN BREAD BOWLS?
Our cups are made of wheat flour (we are currently experimenting with different flours – even Gluten Free) and seasoned with natural spices, herbs, and vegetables to compliment whatever is going into our cup. They are very different from your typical bread bowl in that they are extremely portable (like a to-go cup of coffee) and are much tastier!
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED IN YOUR EAT THE DISHES JOURNEY?
Like any other small business, there are a lot of challenges to begin with. Finding a commercial kitchen, getting approved to do what we want to do, and spending a lot of money before even selling one meal were all big challenges. We really believed in what Eat the Dishes stood for though, so we have continued to overcome any hurdles along our path
WHAT IS ON THE ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE OF EAT THE DISHES?
We would love to eventually have a permanent location, and to franchise across Canada would be tremendous. We think there is potential to really bring zero-waste eating into the mainstream, much like the way the Vegan Diet has become mainstream over the last few years (we couldn’t be happier about that)!
SUSTAINABILITY, GOING GREEN, AND WASTE MANAGEMENT TO PRESERVE OUR ENVIRONMENT IS A WHOLE NEW INDUSTRY NOW AND IT IS STILL DEVELOPING. FOR POTENTIAL BUSINESS-OWNERS WHO ARE LOOKING TO START SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE THEM?
There are so many easy steps companies can make to become greener or more sustainable. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by it, I would say start small, see what changes can be made today – whether it is adopting a Meatless Monday office policy, to encouraging car-pooling or reusable cups, and then build on it. Get your team involved to make it stick. There are so many companies doing greener versions of just about everything out there. Reach out to some of them and see what changes can be made for you
KUDOS TO YOU FOR MAKING THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE ZERO-WASTE, HOW CLOSE IS EAT THE DISHES TO BECOMING A ZERO-WASTE ESTABLISHMENT?
We source our ingredients locally, and we have our offerings in our edible dishes (with zero packaging). We keep our menu “SIPPABLE’ so that we can avoid using single-use cutlery. We also upcycle fabric from a great local custom clothing company called “Costal Reign,” to create our reusable napkins and keep fabric scraps out of our landfills. Eventually, we would love an electric food truck so that we could be completely emission free (right now we do have a van to transport our soups and hot chocolate to local events)
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT DURING YOUR JOURNEY? AND BEFORE?
We just love the reaction of our customers when they find out they can eat everything and there is no packaging. A lot of local youth have been huge supporters, some have even done school projects on sustainability. It’s nice to see them connect the dots and to showcase that it really can be done!
WHAT KIND OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE TO THOSE WHO ARE STRIVING TO LIVE A ZERO-WASTE LIFESTYLE OR LOW-WASTE?
Baby steps. As my dad says ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ If you start small and see where you can make real change, it will stick. There are also a lot of great zero-waste groups, and shops like The Soap Dispensary and Nada, who will happily offer alternatives and solutions for any aspect of your life you’re struggle to reduce waste in. Our community is really amazing for that!
Thank you so much Marissa and Eat the Dishes for taking the time to share your expertise and your experiences with us. It’s really inspiring what you are doing and quite significant to share this with others wanting to make a change or wondering how they can 🙂