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.
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.
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.