Gene also grew up in rural America and often delivered groceries with his father. Every day as he made his deliveries, he’d pass a slaughterhouse and see first-hand how these animals lived and died. Living in a world amongst ranchers, farmers, and butchers, he too was brought up to believe that the commercialization of animals was just how it was “supposed” to be. But deep inside, he too felt it was wrong.
As we spoke, Gene shared with me that through his Buddhist faith, he was introduced to the idea of vegetarianism and had been a practicing vegetarian for fifteen years. So, I did what I do best, and I began to obsessively research vegetarianism and it was during this time that I stumbled across the term “vegan”. It was then that I learned how other food and fashion items we consume also contribute to the abuse of animals. It can be overwhelming to see such a huge problem and feel so small. It can seem impossible to make true impact.
A few months later, both Gene and I made the decision to eat a strictly plant-based diet and we have never regretted it. Maybe I wasn't solving the problem on a global level, but I could make this small bit of impact.
As part of our journey, we began attending marches and conferences to better educate ourselves and help support the movement towards a cruel free world. At one of these events, we heard singer/songwriter Moby speak and he said something that instantly struck a chord with both Gene and I. He suggested that there are several roles in a movement and encouraged each one of us to use whatever talent or advantage we had in life to help further the cause. That plane ride home Gene and I decided we had a mission to somehow use our experience in commercial real estate and our passion for food to try to make plant-based items more accessible to the world. We weren’t sure exactly how, but that was a defining moment for us.
As we became further aligned with our mission, we did what most passionate people do - we tried to get everyone we knew to go plant-based. The thing you learn about trying to make the case for veganism is the undeniable counter point that VEGAN FOOD SUCKS.
It was then we realized if we were going to affect change, we had to take a whole new approach to the issue. Mainstream food IS delicious and if we were going to try to compete with mainstream food, we needed to up our game.
The next logical step... let's pick the most challenging food group in the plant-based community (dairy) and let's build an amazing menu off it. That's right, it was time to go big or go home. We knew we needed a chef to build this menu, but we did not want a vegan chef. If we were going to make food non vegans would also love, we needed a meat-eating chef to make us a menu that they would be proud to serve at any restaurant.
After over a year of turning our kitchen into a lab, we began to strike gold! It was time to open Verve Pie.