Bajan vegan business blooming despite COVID-19

Many businesses folded due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the vegan food business started by Philisha St Hill in the midst of the pandemic has been blossoming.

St Hill told BUZZ that she had been wanting to open since 2015 but Alternative Eats by Philisha St Hill only came into being at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Well I was on a contract job so I was home for a while and then I said I might as well start the business and see how it goes. I just didn’t want to be home twiddling my fingers. So I just took the plunge. With any business, it’s always rocky at first but once people know who you are and they start to like your food, then it takes off from there,” said St Hill

Admittedly, St Hill said that some Barbadians are a bit closed-minded when it comes to vegan food but noted that she was shocked that many of her customers are meat-eaters.

“It blew my mind because people who I didn’t expect to support my business did support my business. Ninety-five per cent of my customers are omnivores, they are not vegans, it’s just that they like the product and they come because they are looking for something different.”

When asked why she choose to specialize in vegan food , St Hill responded with a question, “Why not vegan?”

“But on a serious note, I had health challenges. Long story short the doctor put me on this lifestyle programme where I was eating meat but in small portions. No red meat- no lamb, no pork and I was like -What am I going to eat? And most of the stuff was mainly plants. I started to realize most of my symptoms went away and digestive issues.”

When her health challenges went away St Hill said she came to the realization that there was something to the vegan lifestyle.

“I started to do some research on the vegan lifestyle and plant-based lifestyle and I haven’t looked back since then,” said St Hill.

And the vegan lifestyle has even bolstered her mood.

“Everything is chemical -certain foods can cause certain chemical reactions. Even as a vegan when I eat too much-processed food I still feel foggy,” added St Hill.

St Hill hopes to share what she learnt in her book Transitioning to Vegan which is available on Amazon in the E-version with the print version set to be released next year.

“I want to become a regional brand cause as they say home drums beat first. People have this weird misconception that to be vegan just means you eat salads, they don’t think of rotis and rice. It’s all about how you season your food. No one seasons a chicken with just salt and oftentimes you turn and season the chicken with herbs and with those same plants. My ultimate plan is to become known for good quality vegan food and to educate people because people aren’t aware of the lifestyle and health benefits,” she said.

“I want people to understand that if they are looking to get into this lifestyle it’s not just salads. I want when people come they see what’s possible. I want them to see possibilities with the vegan lifestyle,” she added.

Alternative Eats is known for its speciality vegan rotis which St Hill said have been her “hot sellers”.

The menu also carries black bean salads, vegan rollups and Pineapple Walnut Fried Rice among other dishes.