A new online vegan store is now just days away from opening it's doors. The company headquarters are based in Sasbach, Germany. A country with a fast expanding vegan population. Boutique Vegan is coming and is promised to be epic. The founder Miriam Brilla formulated the concept whilst she was living in France (a country not known for its vegan diet). Not only is EVERYTHING in the store vegan, but it is thoroughly researched and tested (what a cushy job!) to ensure it's products are ethical and sustainable. I decided to have a chat with Miriam to find out more.
Pretty and slight, Miriam is the epitome of health. She is sunny, open and compassionate. I almost imagined blue birds flying around her pretty, mousy hair, and woodland creatures sitting lovingly at her feet. She's forgiving too. When my foggy, jet lagged brain calculated the time difference between the UK and Germany..wrongly, in reverse and I was late for our chat.
Her passion and motivation is clear, she wants everyone to live well, by providing the best vegan products - she wants the care to be extended from the growers, to the manufactures, to the store, and finally, to the consumer.
The store is to provide detailed product descriptions, recipe ideas, transparent information on the ingredients, manufacturing companies and our company policies. All products, hand picked to be in the store are;
Natural and organic
Supporting social causes
Customers and community are important to Boutique Vegan, and they attend events throughout the year so customers can say hello, try the products and discover how a vegan lifestyle doesn't mean compromising on the factors of our buying choices that are important to us all - great flavour, variety, modern looks without a whiff of missing out, which ten years ago was the accepted part of being vegan. But no more!
Boutique Vegan is translated in German, French & English.
'Boutique vegan was created to provide a one-stop vegan lifestyle shop that simply celebrates a modern compassionate lifestyle with a full range of high quality products for everyone to enjoy'.
I'm not sure how a background in real estate leads itself to an online store owner but during her financial studies, Miriam was involved in SRI (socially responsible investment) topics and focused on the issue of GMOs and our food supply. This is where she made the link between the environmental situation, animal, human and social welfare. It all came together, the influence of biotech and pharma corporations, meat and dairy industry, public media influence, that prompted the adoption of a vegetarian and then eventually a vegan diet. Also, perhaps travelling a lot with her family as a child, living amongst totally different cultures, meeting inspiring people helped her to be emphatic and strong and develop a strong bond with her family. In the course of my conversation with Miriam, she mentioned many times the tremendous support of her family, in her new venture.
The concept hatched at the beginning of 2012, after Miriam was living in France for a while and not finding them particularly vegan friendly. Germany, in contrast has a wide vegan interest. It is where Miriams family hails so there she returned to build her dream. She told me German public television regulary hosts vegan chefs and it is part of mainstream media. Plant-baed cookbooks are translated from English. Germany is surging forward. Is it set to overtake the UK? According to a report by Institut Produkt und Markt 9% vegetarian. 3-4% Vegan. In France it isn't so sweet, from 2011, a bonkers law (which the French Gvt. is try to expand to other institutions) was passed to forbid the serving of vegan meals at any public or private school in France! Nuts!
She also found it exhausting to be constantly having to make time reading labels, researching on companies, manufacturing methods, etc. Miriam said,
'Modern life does not necessarily mean we've got a bunch of extra time to invest on constantly staying up to date on labelling issues, chemical food ingredients, analysing the many different certifications for foodstuff and so on. In addition to not finding the range of products in France, I did not find a shop in Europe that truly met my expectations of being able to purchase a large range of great vegan products, receiving the information I need to make an informed decision and all that in a modern package with the quality service one expects of online shops nowadays. So, I started researching on products and companies and discovered many many great products and projects. As the planning advanced, I realised it is essentially important to address veganism as what it truly is - a modern, compassionate and fun lifestyle! This is what boutique vegan is all about. It is a friendly lifestyle, which can be so easy and at the same time means actively investing in a sustainable, healthy and peaceful future'.
The store, offering fresh foods, products, supplements and toiletries, is not only designed for vegans and vegetarians, who are already aware of making informed product choices, but also for non-vegans, people with allergies (they have a simple quick filter for that), people interested in vegan lifestyle, natural and organic food and cosmetics, who care for their health, who are into sports - all age groups. Sustainable focus. Local where possible but not possible to offer a full range of products so they import from United States, South America & Europe.
'Every choice, every day makes a difference. The choice of buying chocolate, which is vegan, ethically sourced and handmade by a small manufacturer may seem like a small thing to do, but in fact the outcome is huge - for the animals, humans and nature who are not exploited, and not to forget your own health and wellbeing'.
Miriam is bursting with enthusiasm and a wisdom that reaches beyond her years. Boutique Vegan is set to make being vegan, plant-based even easier than before. Prices are set to be competitive, and reflect their quality. I am yet to conduct a price comparison with other vegan stores but what they are offering seems to be saving you time and offering products you can trust right off the bat. A priceless commodity.
Our time was up, Miriam was busy putting together the finishing touches to the website with her team and getting ready for the exciting launch events. On the 26th Boutique Vegan is hosting a big open day event at their warehouse. Planned is a warehouse sale, vegan bake sale with our local animal shelter team, as well as a vegan cooking show with info on lactose intolerance and chance to fill up on a tasty vegan BBQ. But firstly they will be hitting the streets of Stuttgart for the annual Veggie Street Day on 19th May, 2013.
For more information about Vegans is Germany, visit Vegetarian Deutschland
I am planning a research trip to Germany & France in the coming months. If you have suggestions of places to check out, people I should meet and places to stay, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on the 'comments' tab below and leave a comment.