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Vegan Personal Chef: Chew, Swallow, Learn

By Kyle Knies — July 10, 2012

Today, Kyle Knies is telling us all about how becoming a vegan personal chef can be a viable and delicious way to change the world. 

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There are a lot of different animals on this planet and they pretty much all need our help. So for people who love pit bulls (shout out to OHH resident dog, Rose!), by all means, devote yourself to pit bulls. If you’re a horse person, please keep helping the horses. But if you’re like me and what you truly love above all else is food – then you’re in luck! As vegans, we know what it boils down to: the way to help the most animals is simply by changing people’s food choices. More animals are bred, enslaved, and slaughtered for food than for any other purpose.

Over the last 18 years of vegetarianism, and six years of veganism, I have attempted to help (educate? convert? evangelize?) the people in my life to understand that meat and animals are the same thing. I tried the laid-back dude approach, casually explaining that it’s a “more peaceful way to live, man.” I have fervently spat out facts and figures about indirect grain consumption, confinement crates, murder, etc. I have even proclaimed, “watching someone eat a chicken wing with their hands, and then reach for the doorknob, is repulsive.” But nothing has gotten me as far in changing people’s hearts and minds as just feeding them.

Delicious vegan food is my tool of choice for advocacy on behalf of animals. We only need about three things to live: air, water and food (maybe also a little sleep sometimes). Vegan air is easy enough to find, vegan drinking water is available for the time being (and will be available for  a lot longer as more of us become vegan!), but vegan food… Well, I think you know that our world still needs a little help on that front. Satisfying, tasty food is universal. When I worked at vegan restaurants, even the crankiest of customers left happier if they simply ate food that they liked.

Of course, no vegan business survives solely on the patronage of vegans. And that is the magic of food: everyone has to eat. And we all want to eat food that tastes good, and makes us feel full and satisfied.

I started From the Garden – a vegan personal chef service – so that I can show people how delicious veganism tastes. I have worked in vegan restaurants and have found it rewarding, but I was craving a direct relationship with the people I was feeding. As a personal chef, I get to meet them, know what they like, and then work in their home to give them what they want – all while advocating for the delicious taste of compassion inherent with a scrumptious vegan meal. To be able to tailor a vegan menu to the client’s particular tastes is a fantastic opportunity to show people how the food they already love can be even more delicious – not to mention better for our planet and all the creatures on it – when made cruelty-free.

In truth, I don’t know anyone who has a live-in personal chef. But it is not such a far-fetched idea to have an occasional visit from a personal chef, even if you are not wealthy. In fact, the demand for personal chefs is growing rapidly, particularly for families, new parents, and those of us with busy lives. Think of how much money we end up spending on groceries, eating out, or splurging on last-minute delivery for dinner. It all adds up to a hefty price.

And, in addition to the convenience, and the good food, think of all of the intangible benefits of having a personal chef. To have a relationship with the person who cooks your food, and for them to know you and your personal connection to eating, builds community, one meal at a time. Since we all have to eat, food is one of the best tools we have for fostering community. And vegan food equals vegan community! Countless more people on this planet use the word “vegan” than even ten years ago. Just imagine what that will look like in another ten years. The future is full of yummy possibilities.

Eating well doesn’t have to be a luxury, and eating cruelty-free should be a hassle-free pleasure. So if you love to cook and people seem to like your food, consider a career as a personal chef. Start a blog and a Facebook page that touts your personal chef business, and then start cooking meals for your friends and family for small sums of money. Eventually, you’ll meet people who want you to cook for them more often. Starting your own business is hard, so take it one day at a time! I recommend getting a how-to book, and then start cooking. Be sure to keep in your mind and heart the confidence that you can do it. Remember your motivating force behind your business: it’s all about the animals.

Even if you’re not interested in becoming a personal chef, if you’re busy and hungry (these days, who isn’t?), then search for vegan personal chefs in your area. Try it out for one week, and see how it goes. Vegans paying vegans is always a beneficial transaction. For years, I had people tell me that if they could just eat the food that I cooked for them, they could be vegan. Now, with my personal chef business, they can! This is what I like to call a vegan education, accomplished with three easy steps: chew, swallow and learn.

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Kyle Knies

Kyle Knies became a vegetarian when he was eight years old, prompting his journalist mom to write a column, “If you Are What You Eat, We’re All Dead Meat.” Kyle worked as an Education and Advocacy intern for Farm Sanctuary, and was lucky enough to be working with Jasmin and Mariann when Our Hen House made its debut. An avid water lover, he has led whitewater rafting trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He is a vegan personal chef in San Francisco, where he lives with his partner Ashley and rescue dog, Becky Mae. He chronicles his adventures in vegan cooking on his blog, It’s From the Garden.


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(6) Readers Comments

  1. July 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Nice piece, Kyle! I'm looking forward to having you do more cooking in our kitchen! You were a sure hit with an all-vegan crowd, but next time let's get some non-vegans in the mix since we know your food will open their eyes (and mouths!) to the joys of food from the garden.

  2. July 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    What an inspiring article! I love the idea of advocating for animals in such a positive, happy way.

  3. July 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    All dead meat...that's food for thought. I have to say, Kyle you are dead on right. Being a HUGE meat-eater, I used to laugh about how a meal was not one without meat. I vaguely remember giving up an evening of your cooking when we were in Paris, to go home and eat a steak! Eating with you and Ashley - I think I am one of your friends who said I could be vegan if you cooked for me - has made me change how I think of food. I don't know if I could take the full step (I do love steak...), but I am more aware of what I eat, and I know now that there are delicious alternatives out there! Here's to changing the world. One person at a time.

  4. July 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I'm one of the lucky ones who's experienced Kyle's wizardly ways and will vouch wholeheartedly for his talent. If you don't think you deserve a visit from Kyle, think dinner party! It's a dream scenario - Kyle appearing with beautifully presented, delicious dishes and you sitting there like a hostess who's truly enjoying her guests. Add to that the fact that everyone goes away feeling a teensy bit better about themselves. Bravo! And thank you Kyle for introducing me to Our Hen House. It's my kind of place.

  5. July 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Love this article--cooking delicious vegan food is such a great way to spread the word. Thanks for your ideas, Kyle!

  6. Olivia Patick
    July 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Kyle.. So basically Im just the lost 18 year old girl about to be shipped off to college (Buffalo) in September. Ive been vegan for about a year now with my entire family, it started as to lose weight and see what health benefits occurred, and then it became a lifestyle, and slowly formed into my passion. I love to cook, I absolutely love food too, and right now im in a grey zone in my life. Being a personal vegan chef has been a very hazy dream of mine, I cant decide if its far fetched or if I should just not go to college, work my way up from the bottom in restaurants and learn the food industry, or what. Please give me your wise input, and tell me what it actually takes to do a job like this. Organization, independence, patience, personality, whatever feed back would be greatly appreciated. Thank you my fellow vegan

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