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April 30, 2017

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Meet: Vegan Meals by Mindy:

Vegan chef dispelling stigma of ‘bland’ food

It takes a little time, but yes it’s totally worth it’

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L.E. Baskow

Mindy Poortinga is a self-confessed ex-hardcore carnivore who became vegan and now makes her living cooking vegan meals for clients to purchase once a week.

Describe your business.

I provide ready-to-eat plant-based meals through a text-blast ordering system. I cook one day a week in a commissary kitchen, then people pick up the meals or have them delivered.

Who are your customers?

Some are vegans. Some are people trying to transition to a plant-based diet. Some are just trying to get more veggies into their diet. But the bottom line is they all want convenient, good food they can afford.

What are your most popular meals?

The most requested meal I’ve been asked to repeat is my grilled eggplant ciabatta sandwich. It has seasoned, grilled eggplant, fresh basil, tomatoes, vegan mayo and a sweet balsamic reduction on crunchy ciabatta bread. I like to serve that with lemon dill potato salad. I use fresh herbs from my own organic patio garden.

What are the biggest misconceptions about vegan and plant-based food?

Vegan Meals by Mindy

Address: 10597 Foggy Glen Ave., Las Vegas

Phone: 702-375-7487

Email: [email protected]

Website: veganmealsbymindy.com

Owned/operated by: Mindy Poortinga

In business since: July 2014

The biggest misconception about vegan food is that it’s expensive. It’s not. Meat and dairy products are expensive.

Another misconception is that sticking to a vegan diet is hard. It’s not. There are so many options available at grocery stores, and more and more vegan restaurants are popping up. But it’s like any diet: You need to plan in advance to stay on track and keep it healthy. There’s a ton of unhealthy vegan food out there.

What got you interested in living a vegan lifestyle?

I used to consider myself a hardcore carnivore. I ate meat and dairy every meal. I really didn’t even know what vegan was until I started volunteering at a farm sanctuary. I became vegan for the animals, the environment and my health. Going vegan has opened my eyes to what is happening in commercial farming, with animal testing, and how animal products are in nearly everything.

What makes your business unique?

Probably everything. We compost. We use the honor system with our clients vs. requiring them to pay in advance. We use a text blast ordering system. We cook only one day a week.

What is your business philosophy?

Do good. I want to help people get healthy. I want to contribute to the Las Vegas vegan community. I want to help the environment. I want to educate my nonvegan clients about where their meat and dairy products come from — how the animals live, how they’re pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and how they’re slaughtered. It matters. I keep telling my clients that I didn’t know before, but now I do.

What’s the most important part of your job?

The most important part of my job is to educate the public. People need to be aware of where their food comes from and what is going on with commercial farming. It’s so important, because you have to eat. But equally important is to provide healthy, tasty and affordable vegan food to my clients. Plant-based diets have so many health benefits. With rampant diabetes, obesity, cancer and illnesses, the medical community is finally beginning to acknowledge the health benefits of the plant-based diet.

What obstacles has your business overcome?

The biggest obstacle is the stigma that vegan food is bland, only raw vegetables, and that vegans are a bunch of frail, hairy, tree-hugging hippies. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Vegan food is full of unique flavors and food combinations you’d never think would go together. I have fed so many nonvegans who have told me they don’t miss the meat and they can’t believe how tasty my food is. Each time I hear this, I know I’m breaking down walls and educating people through food.

What have you learned from the recession?

You’ve got to be able to adapt. You must be flexible and have multiple skills and talents.

Our generation is different from our parents’ or grandparents. They used to work one job until they retired. Now, we tend to change professions more than once. My background is real estate. I used to work for title companies in the escrow department. I did that for about 10 years. Then I worked in advertising sales. And here I am years later, a self-taught vegan chef with my own cooking company. Just shows you that you never know where life will take you.

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