March 1, 2021

96: Plant Based Meals To-Go: Nature's Plate

Nature's Plate is a local plant based foods to go…


Nature's Plate is a local plant based foods to go- meal subscription service here in Dallas. This female owned business is the creation of Annette Baker and Marianne Lacko who simply wanted to help people eat more plants. Prior to COVID they offered cooking classes and participated in other events to help the community learn about the benefits of eating plant-based.

Make sure to visit their website:

https://naturesplate.com/

Transcript

Annette Baker  00:00

By cooking for them, then I can get that fulfillment out of that since I'm not getting it out of my career.

 

Marianne Lacko  00:07

So that's literally how it started. And it just grew from there. And that started cooking for for my manager. And then some other people at my office were like, hey, I want in on that. And by the time I left my corporate career, on Monday mornings, I was going in, like, I would have to make two or three trips into the office to take all of these nature's plate meals to people and so that at that point, I think it was 2014. Maybe we could really make something of this and we could actually tie our, our, you know, our mission and our passion with our careers. So we've started working on it. And I think that left her corporate career in 2014. Yes. And then I left mine in 2016. 

 

Maya Acosta  00:54

Welcome to the Plant Based DFW Podcast weekly show with Dr. Riz and Maya. Our podcast focuses on lifestyle medicine, which is the use of evidence based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a whole food, plant based diet, regular physical exercise, adequate sleep and stress management to treat and even reverse the lifestyle related chronic diseases that are all too prevalent. Every week, we will feature physicians, dieticians, health coaches, and everyday people who will share their stories and speak on one of these lifestyle medicine modalities. Let's meet today's podcast guests. So I want to tell you a little bit about nature's play. Because since I am here in Dallas, I'd like to sort of bring a little bit more attention to the small businesses that could use our support. So whether you're a listener here in Dallas, or anywhere else in the country or throughout the world, it's important that you find out who are those local small businesses that are providing healthy foods for you, and how can you support them. In this episode, I speak with Marianne and Annette about how they got started in their business, how they went vegan in the first place. And we also talk about some of the collaborative work that we have done together in the past. So of course, prior to COVID, Dr. Riz and I held some community events here in Dallas. And we always enjoyed having nature's play, bring samples of their foods to anyone who attended our events. The goal has always been to encourage people to sample plant based foods and see how delicious they can be. What we like most about nature's play is that they are completely plant based foods. They're not processed. They are what we call SOS free meaning Salt, Oil and sugar free in the majority of their plates. But they also have just added a new line called homestyle, which is a little bit more relaxed. For people that are transitioning. When I first went vegan, I didn't know what to eat. It wasn't as easy for me to go out any fast food like you know, most of us were used to. But what I found was that if I was traveling and didn't have time to cook their meals were always available because you can stop by the store and just purchase they're there ready to go meals. So they offer grab and go meals, they are now delivering and they also have weekly ordering and meal plan subscriptions. So you can literally place your order for the week, and either have it delivered or pick up your food and you're set for the whole week. As of right now, the only thing that they're shipping are the plant based cookies, but they are definitely worth trying you guys. And so I'm going to include information about their website so that you can explore you'll hear a little bit about their story as well. The plant based meals are for everyone. Whether you are getting started transitioning to a plant based diet, wanting to add more plants to your diet, or wanting to make your long time vegan diet healthier. They want to help you. Their mission is to make plant based whole food accessible and convenient. And of course tasty and satisfying. Okay, like I said, make sure to visit them and try out their foods. And thanks again for listening. So welcome. 

 

Marianne Lacko  04:04

Thank you. We're excited to be back. 

 

Maya Acosta  04:06

I have always enjoyed supporting you guys. And you were one of my first interviews when I started the podcast. And this year, I turned five years vegan and yeah, yay. When I started, I was vegan. I wasn't plant based. I was kind of eating vegan processed foods. I didn't know the difference. Like a lot of people I was still in that path of learning. And then I somehow found you guys and I started sampling the food and so my husband kind of said, okay, bring this home, bring this home, and he found his favorite foods. And so I want to thank you guys because you guys kind of helped me initially to kind of take off and really get on the plant based path. 

 

Annette Baker  04:49

Oh, that's awesome. I didn't really realize that and we may have talked about that a little bit in the past but that we love that that makes it that's what the main reason why we do what we do. What keeps us going for sure. So that's wonderful. 

 

Maya Acosta  05:03

I've said in the past that when we were traveling a lot, it was very difficult to eat healthy foods. And if we're gone for two weeks at a time, I can't keep a lot of food in the fridge. So flying back to Dallas and making a stop at your store, or pre ordering to pick up a week's worth of food helped me so much, especially when I was really busy, so I could still eat healthy. I said to you guys by email that I wanted to kind of start supporting my local community, like where I live. And so I'd love for people to hear more about nature's play, and you have three stores. And anyway, tell our listeners about Nature's Plate. 

 

Annette Baker  05:39

We do have three stores, we opened our first store all five and a half years ago. And before that, we did this on a part time basis for a few years basically doing meal prep out of each of our homes, and then a shared commercial kitchen. There are a lot more shared commercial kitchens then, but we used one back then, and just meal delivery for a small number of people. So over the last six years, and with the store opening, what we wanted to do was reach a much larger number of people and really get the word out about plant based food. And then it can taste good and make it easy for people. So we offer grab and go meals out of each of those three stores. One is in Lake Highlands, that's our original where the kitchen is another at Preston and Forest in Dallas. And then the third is in Plano. We offer grab and go meals as well as cookies and snacks and fresh smoothies at Lake Highlands. And then we also have weekly ordering and meal plan subscriptions. And we're now doing a lot of home delivery even more than we had done in the past. So there's that that we can talk about too. And we're shipping our whole food plant based cookies. Now, some of that has just come about in the last year with a pandemic. But even before that, we're just always not only expanding our menu, but looking for how people want to get the meals and what and how we can best serve people. 

 

Maya Acosta  07:03

In our previous interview, I asked you who are typically who are the clients that come in and buy your food. And you said that not everyone is actually plant based. 

 

Annette Baker  07:13

Yeah most of our customers are not vegan or fully plant based. They're just interested in healthy and convenient food, we definitely have a core of vegan and plant based customers. And I'll just tag on to what you said my explain a little bit of the difference. Vegan means no animal products at all. And it is sometimes or mostly but not always, for ethical reasons, including the environment as well as animal rights. But plant based and especially whole food plant based is generally done for health reasons. And many people do both including Marianne and me We are vegan and whole food plant based. But hopefully plant based is really about eating healthy. And it's foods that are based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and very little of anything else. So not processed food. And largely that's what Nature's Plate meals are. The food is very healthy, in addition to being 100% plant based or vegan. So that's why and especially being here in Dallas that I think a lot of our customers come to us regardless of whether they want to eat plant based or not. 

 

Maya Acosta  08:19

Yes. And we know that people that have been eating, say a traditional kind of standard American diet sometimes find it very difficult to make a change overnight, because we're still craving the salts and a lot of cooked foods, or I should say fried foods. And so by incorporating some of your foods, you're able to taste the food and kind of adjust. And as a matter of fact, we both have a mutual friend who has been vegan for quite a while. And her husband was, you know, contemplating coming on board and she ordered a lot from you last year and her husband came on board fully and became plant based. 

 

Annette Baker  08:54

Andrea Pender. Yeah. It's a great story. And we love her. 

 

Maya Acosta  09:00

Yeah, yeah. And when my mom was visiting early last year, also, we stopped by your store, and she sampled some of the foods. And she said, Wow, I wish I had something like this in Arizona, you have really been that one place that offers the cleanest foods that I know of. 

 

Marianne Lacko  09:15

Yeah, that's absolutely what we want to do. Our company is is mission based so and like Annette said, she and I are both vegan and whole food plant based. So but Nature's Plate is very much about whole food plant based. It's about providing and not everything that we make is 100% whole food plant based because we want to be able to provide food for people who are at different places on their journey and for people who possibly never want to go all the way to whole food plant based but our whole and neither one of us has our shirts on but our whole thing is just eat more plants because you just you can't go wrong with that. So that's our informal mission is just try to get everybody to see that just eating more plants can be really good. Yummy and, and not difficult, not difficult at all. And yeah, 

 

Annette Baker  10:04

Talking about Andrea Pender so and I was working in our Preston F orest store and I had a customer come in last week with a very similar story to hers. And it was specific to our new Frito pie. So I don't know if you're aware of this Maya, but during the pandemic, we introduced the line of meals called Homestyle, which are not as strict from a nutritional perspective, they're still made from scratch, there's still, you know, healthier ingredients, but we do make some allowances. And they're, they're really focused on flavor and familiarity with those. So in there, the Frito pie is included in that I know that Andrea's husband will eat a lot of those meals. The woman who I talked with at Preston Forest last week, I can't remember her name, but her husband is far from vegan, and she said that he was really hesitant to try anything vegan, but she got him to try the Frito pie, and he loves it and she was in there buying to large sized meals for him. And that's what we're trying to do with the homestyle menu is just to Marianne's point, we just need to move people along and get them to eat more plants. And then they'll be more open to taking that next step. And even our homestyle meals are a lot healthier than your typical restaurant meal. And then 

 

Marianne Lacko  11:22

it's even healthier than what a lot of people are making in their homes. Because there's still lots of veggies, there's still lots of plants in there like Annette, and I like to take a meal and just look at how many how many different plants are you getting? Because that's a big deal, just as many variety in addition to quantity. How many different plants are you getting from this meal, and even our homestyle meals have a lot of different plans. Yes, 

 

Maya Acosta  11:47

that's a smart move to make is to offer support at different different stages of people's personal journey towards a healthy plant based diet. 

 

Annette Baker  11:57

We are sure to label them as homestyle and every on the labels and on the website and everything so that people who want to, you know, keep their sodium levels low or want to only eat whole grains and even more vegetables know that they can stick to these other meals. 

 

Maya Acosta  12:14

So I like the fact that you have the homestyle option too, because like you said, you can help people transition. Okay, so for people who haven't heard how you got started, can you tell us about your journeys and how you decided to start Nature's Plate. 

 

Marianne Lacko  12:29

As far as our personal journeys. I actually was I went vegetarian when I was like 21 I think 2122 somewhere in there. And I don't really have a great reason for having done that my boyfriend's ex girlfriend was vegetarian. I thought that sounded really cool. So I was like, Alright, I'm gonna be vegetarian. And I was also I was always trying to, I was trying to eat healthier, like I had done that this is back in the late 80s, early 90s. And so I was on the turkey burger kick and you know, eating the, you know, the lower fat, white meats, I say that with air quotes, because they're not actually lower fat. They're actually just as high if not higher in a lot of cases. So anyway, so I was I did that I was eating vegetarian for about, I don't know, probably about five years, Internet, and I tend to always do the same thing at the same time. So she was kind of trying to get there, but she hurt her kids were really young. And anyway, but she finally after about four or five years, she's like, Okay, I'm going to go vegetarian, too. And in researching recipes, and because back then there was no, I mean, the tofu was gross. It was like the silken tofu. And that was it. And that's great for some things, but you don't just want to eat that. I remember. I mean, they're just there just weren't a lot. 

 

Annette Baker  13:46

There were no Amy's meals or knowing and very, there just wasn't a lot of stuff out there, at least not in the in this area where it was readily available.

 

Marianne Lacko  13:55

Annette was researching recipes and things to make for her kids because she had she had two small children at the time. She still has two children, but they're not small. And they, anyway, so in doing that research, the internet was like brand new. This was this was 1997-1998. She came across all of these articles about what actually is happening in the egg and dairy industry. And so she came to me and she said this was maybe a few weeks after she went vegetarian. And she said, Well, I'm not just going vegetarian, I'm going vegan, because all of this stuff is terrible. And so I started reading all those same things. And I was like, Okay, well I'm into, so that's when we went vegan and we definitely, you know, did, I don't like to I don't like to make it negative. So we were sometimes we were more all in than others. But that's definitely when we made that commitment and decided this is the way that we want to eat. And in doing that and continuing to research recipes. We just got more we just learned more and more about the nutrition aspect of it. We're both really active, we love to run, we love to work out. This was we were both in our like, right around 30 when we went vegan, so just trying to really get healthier all the time. And that's kind of how we came across the whole food plant based aspect of it. And that naturally, there was no whole food, plant based food anywhere, even if there's, you know, vegan convenience foods. So we just started cooking for each other, we both had full time corporate careers. So we would each cook on Sundays. And then we would trade food for the week. So that we would have we'd each make like two things and then train so that we'd have food to eat for the weekend to take to work. And eventually, we did that for several years. And eventually, my manager at work was actually like, Hey, I am, I think that I could really lose weight and be a lot healthier if I ate the way that you eat. But I don't want to cook, I don't have any time to cook. So I don't want to participate. But if I pay you, will you cook for me. And I said, No, I just had a baby, I had just had my daughter at the time. And I was like, I don't want to do that. And it's all I can do to make food for an enemy to eat. And so I was telling him that about it. And that was like, well do it. That sounds kind of fun. And like, you know,

 

Annette Baker  16:20

My kids were older by then. And I was just like it, it seemed like a really good way to just to give something back and also to put some meaning into what are more meaning into what I was doing. And we both at that point, weren't getting that out of our careers, like our careers were supporting our families, which is a wonderful thing. But we both knew that we had a passion for something else that we weren't able to fulfill. So it was a way to do that. And I never really expected to turn it into a business, it was just, if I can help her and then it became a few more people, by cooking for them, then I can get that fulfillment out of that since I'm not getting it out of my career.

 

Marianne Lacko  17:01

So that's literally how it started. And it just grew from there. And that started cooking for for my manager. And then some other people at my office were like, hey, I want in on that. And by the time I left my corporate career on Monday mornings, I was going in, like, I would have to make two or three trips into the office to take all of these Nature's Plate meals to people and so that at that point, I think it was 2014 Yeah, 2013 2014 Yes, when we kind of started thinking or net started, it was actually

 

Annette Baker  17:35

like 2012, when we started thinking about having a business 

 

Marianne Lacko  17:38

that maybe we could really make something of this and we could actually tie our our are, you know, our mission and our passion with our careers. So we've started working on it, and I think, you know, left her corporate career in 2014. Yes. And then I left mine in 2016.

 

Maya Acosta  17:57

Ever since then you've been so busy. You've done a lot in the community as well. And I think, you know, when we started doing you, so you were doing your work, you had your business way before we came along. But once we heard about you and started eating your foods, and also doing our events, we wanted to kind of collaborate and work with you guys and have people that attended, say our lectures or movie events or anything like that to kind of sample your food. Because as we know, that's how you convince people with good food,

 

Annette Baker  18:28

Which we appreciate so much Maya it ever since we started really most forms of marketing that work for other small businesses. And don't necessarily like restaurants in particular don't really translate to what works for us. It's what has worked the most for us is word of mouth. And that includes events and marketing within groups and that type of thing. It also allows us to educate at the same time, which is a big part of of what we care about and what we want to do with our time. So we truly appreciate that obviously the last year has been very different. And we've tried to continue educational endeavors, they've looked a lot different and they're not quite as fun or quite as exciting for people especially the biggest challenge I think is that we can't let people sample the food. We We We did one food for life. 21 Day kickstart is Marianne gotten that training. And we've done some other cooking classes over zoom. And we're doing some Facebook Lives right now. It's just not the same when people can't be there to taste the food. I know but we'll we'll still keep doing something and then hope that we can get back to events with y'all and other people soon.

 

Maya Acosta  19:46

To Marianne. I meant to say congratulations for becoming a food for life instructor. 

 

Marianne Lacko  19:51

Thank you. Yeah, we did that. I think about a month before COVID. So yeah, I was in I was in Los Angeles at the end of February of 2020. Getting that certification and then yeah, I think it was two weeks later that we all went into lockdown. So we never really had a chance to do the in person classes like we wanted to, we did actually do, I think we did to 21 day kickstarts. And then I think we, we might have done like a one off class Anyway, it was just really hard. It's really hard through zoom for people to feel like they're getting the same experience. And it was hard for us, you know, the cooking classes that we've done in the past, we've had so much fun and felt like that the people who were in the class, they've always told us they got so much out of it. And we just had such a hard time, we just didn't feel like that the zoom there. 

 

Annette Baker  20:39

It's harder to do Q & A. It's harder to be interactive, especially with a group on zoom. Yeah, it's people don't get the same thing out of it, 

 

Marianne Lacko  20:47

people wouldn't pay as much. And so therefore, the experience just wasn't nearly as rich. So yeah, and

 

Maya Acosta  20:52

You guys have been vegan much longer than a lot of other people that I've met, you must have seen this tremendous growth in the city and in the outskirts of people that are jumping on board, either opening restaurants or starting their own support groups, offering all sorts of content to help people. So what was that, like when you were seeing that growth? 

 

Annette Baker  21:14

It's exciting. I mean, it's, it's crazy, just personally, I mean, people post memes about this and stuff sometimes just like how it was to be vegan 20 years ago. And I mean, you know, when they when Starbucks started offering soy milk, I was excited. I mean, and that was and I remember when that happened. I mean, it's, there was nothing I mean, milk was cow's milk, and food contained meat and dairy. And that's pretty much all there was to it. Restaurants didn't i didn't even use the word vegan for years. Nobody knew what it meant. Here in Dallas, if I told people that I that I didn't need me, and then I, you know, tell them that I didn't eat dairy, but it was the or eggs. But

 

Marianne Lacko  21:59

I and then every once in a while somebody would go oh my god, are you vegan?

 

Annette Baker  22:02

Yeah. And then I'd be like, Well, yeah, I guess so. But, but I never really think about it. So it, I don't think about it that way. But yes, the It's wonderful to see all of the restaurants, it's wonderful to see all of the convenience foods, especially the restaurants, it's really cool to watch because those are generally local small businesses, and lots of people who are passionate about what they do, and not only want to start a small business, but really want to do something to promote veganism or to promote health. And it's, it's amazing to see that the I'm happy to see all the convenience foods too, because in spite of the fact that I don't eat them, or very rarely eat them. I do think that anytime somebody chooses those, it's better for the environment, it's better for the animals, it may set them on a path, even if they're doing it. Everybody has their own reason. But even if they're doing it because they have an allergy, it might set them on that path of exploring other options, and eventually cutting out most animal products. I do think that being on that journey, and just being used to living around nobody else who was vegan, is why our business very much started out catering, we never even considered that we were really marketing to vegan people. We certainly have vegan customers now. And we do market that way more now. But none of our original customers before we had a store or vegan. And I think we just have that in mind when we talk to people that this is really for everybody. Everybody should eat a few plant based meals a week. I think everybody should do more than that. But if everybody and this is something that we tell our employees, because we have some employees who are young and very passionate about veganism, and that and can get frustrated with the customers who are not nearly as open to being vegan or eating plant based all the time. If we can convince 50% of the people to eat one or two plant based meals a week, that's going to go a lot further to helping you know just our overall health but especially the environment and to make things better from an animal rights perspective, then convincing some really small sliver of the population to go vegan. And we may get more people to go vegan than that small sliver in the long run. But that's a long way off, especially in Dallas. So let's just let's move people along, I guess as far as they're willing to go and just down that continuum and not worry about getting them all to the end.

 

Marianne Lacko  24:51

Yeah, not that we wouldn't love it if everybody did just go completely whole food plant based and or vegan, but we just don't feel like that's realistic in the short term, at least not in lifetime.

 

Maya Acosta  25:03

I agree. There's such a stigma when we talk about being vegan or plant based, and then people just get caught up in that without thinking about how bad just processed foods are in general. Like, for example, when I started learning how to eat a little bit better and learning how to read labels, that's when I realized, Oh, my God, marinara sauce can be loaded with sugar, salt and oil. 

 

Annette Baker  25:22

Yes, we we love the little like micro opportunities to educate people, like people will come into our store and ask if we have sugar free cookies, and assumably they're, you know, looking for cookies with artificial sweeteners or whatever, because that's what those generally will be. And really, no, but they have, they're made with unrefined sugar, so it's healthier for you. And you know, especially dates are the, you know, one of the healthiest sweeteners, but a whole or other whole fruits. But even in our cookies, we use things like coconut sugar, or maple syrup, so at least they have some nutrients and fiber and, and certainly not fake sugar. I mean, white sugar is a better choice than like aspartame. So it gives us an opportunity to have that conversation with people. And then, you know, sometimes they don't believe us, but other times they're happy to have cookies that they can eat.

 

Maya Acosta  26:12

That tastes good. That's true. Okay, so you mentioned that you have done some lives, some Facebook Lives.

 

Annette Baker  26:19

Yes, we're actually doing one today at 5:30 p.m. And so during January, we have a theme about eat right and feel amazing, because there are lots of reasons to eat well, but really, no matter what reason you have, you will feel amazing if you if you eat well. And so we've picked a theme for each week, and today's is whole grains. Like, why would you want to eat whole grains? And then what can you do with them, and we'll share a recipe. They're short, they're like 30 minutes long, and we'll share the video. Although last week, we had some sound issues. So we didn't end up sharing it. But as long as it's it's shareable, we will

 

Maya Acosta  26:59

I haven't done lives yet. Because I'm waiting to understand things better as well. Like I'm afraid to mess up and

 

Annette Baker  27:06

I you just need to jump in. You should and you should go watch mine from two weeks ago, if you're worried about messing up and jumping in. So okay, weeks ago, Marianne was out of town. And I did one by myself. And I had to start it like five times because I could there's this thing with Facebook Live in the rotation of the phone. And every time I think I have it down. I don't just jump in. And it'll be really good for you. Because I know that you like to have everything perfect. But instead of live, but if you jump in and do a Facebook Live, I think it's a good lesson. And just maybe it can't be perfect.

 

Maya Acosta  27:41

I I'd love to talk about briefly how was 2020 for you guys, you were already operating out of a kitchen. Was that easier for you just staying that way? How were you affected?

 

Annette Baker  27:52

We were not as affected as restaurants. I feel horrible about what's happened to the restaurant industry here locally. And Marianne and I talked a lot about that. And we feel very lucky. With that said we definitely experienced declines in revenue, more so at some points during the year and others and the food industry is a very low margin industry in general. So there, there were definitely ups and downs in the year, we and our sales are still down at this point. In a nutshell, what happened is our store traffic decrease. Incredibly and before the pandemic store, the store sales were about 60% 60 to 65% of our sales each week were for people just walking into the store. And that part almost went away for a while did go away for a while for a few weeks. And now it's still very small compared to what it was in at the beginning of March last year. But we were already doing online weekly meal plans and orders and we already had delivery in place. So we've dropped the price of delivery to $5. And really focused on that model. And that part has grown quite a bit and it grew pretty quickly. So it made up for as the year went on and increasing amount of that store traffic. It still hasn't made up for it completely. But it made up for quite a bit of it. And luckily we were also able to get a PPP loan back in March. So that allowed us to keep our employees on board and pay them and also pay rent. Because with three stores rent is a considerable amount of our expense. 

 

Marianne Lacko  29:34

Without that there's no way we could have survived we couldn't have paid rent, we couldn't have paid our employees. Yeah, anyway, it's it's all thanks to that.

 

Annette Baker  29:43

So we're very grateful that that happened. We're also very grateful that I'm the pandemic in general has caused a lot of people to think about the local and small businesses in their area. And we have done the same and trying to patronize them in whatever way possible and understand that, you know, not just once in a while, but going in there a week over week is what key, whether it's ordering takeout from a restaurant, or you know, just anytime that you can shop local, that's a business who employs people in your community, and even the people who own the business live in your community. And it makes a big difference to them. So I think the spirit of community that has come out of 2020 has has helped us keep going as well. And now we're just hopeful that will, that it will continue to recover. And we'll get some of the store traffic back, but also continue, we're focused on the delivery model, we also started shipping cookies, which hasn't been that big for us. But we're still trying, and I'm trying to grow that part of it. I do think Marianne is in charge of that those were her recipes. So I can say this, I think we have, by far the best whole food plant based cookies that I've tried anywhere, even when we've ordered them from other places. They taste really good. And they're gluten free, no oil, a whole healthy grains and other ingredients.

 

Maya Acosta  31:12

I agree. I like the cookies, too. They're delicious. 

 

Annette Baker  31:15

So that's pretty much how we got through where we are, as far as you know, getting through the year. And we just, you know, I'm really, I probably shouldn't say this, because we pivoted for sure, but I'm really tired of that word. I think we've all done so much pivoting in the last year that we're ready for things to kind of calm down.

 

Maya Acosta  31:38

I know. And so I agree with what you said previously about, you know, the community members wanting to support local businesses. And I've heard that even in comments that I've read, even if the restaurant is not plant based or vegan, some people say that they ate out a lot, because they wanted to keep the business going, and the restaurant going. And so I kind of you know, being that I was stuck in my own community, I wanted to reach out and see like, Are there any other plant based my handle in my social media that I have for Nextdoor is plant based Maya. And so I remember when someone saying, Are you plant based, or you'd like to eat a lot of plants? And so and then next thing I know, this kind of discussion started about, do we have a plant based group? And so I said, Well, let me start one. And so it surprised me how many people have joined because they want to find like minded people. I wanted to feature you guys, because you're not that far from us. Maybe I don't know, like three miles from my community. And we deliver there for sure. So you probably know the exact mileage how far and I said, You're the only food delivery service that I know of that has clean foods.

 

Annette Baker  32:47

I think that's probably fair. I mean, there is a lot of vegan other vegan food that you can get delivered. But our model being meal prep is different. But also the type of food that we do is different for sure. Yeah, maybe made from whole healthy ingredients, and especially the no added oil, which is most of our menu. And using, you know, most of it's all whole grain, lots of vegetables,

 

Maya Acosta  33:10

I see that people are ordering, they're they're using delivery services like never before. So I'm at Whole Foods, and I'm competing with personal shoppers, it's not like people are not ordering out somehow either having their groceries delivered having their meals delivered,

 

Annette Baker  33:26

I am glad that there are so many personal shoppers at Whole Foods and other grocery stores. Because otherwise there would be that many more customers in there.

 

Maya Acosta  33:33

I almost am reluctant to ask what's what's next for you guys, because life is so unpredictable. But I know that you were doing so you talked about how you were doing the monthly in person classes before COVID. And I attended though attended one of them. And I really enjoyed just again coming together with community members. And you're kind of starting to make your way towards online kind of demos as well. I know that you're done your lives, what do you kind of anticipate

 

Annette Baker  34:02

We are kind of trying to wait it out at this point, to be honest, we have we did some online cooking classes and the food for life classes at the beginning. Depending on what happens over the next couple months, we may try some more, which is why we decided to do the Facebook Lives again in January, just kind of test the water and see if people are ready for it again, it felt like just you know based on attendance and that it it got old after a while. But people may be ready for it again, we would really like to be able to do it where people can taste the food. So we're just kind of planning that for the time when we are able to get back into doing that. And for now we are very focused on our menu on menu development. You'll see some new menu items coming out soon. And just how we can best shore up our business and take care of our employees and make sure that we can keep going so we can keep fulfilling our mission and doing what we love, we don't want if this pandemic, if the effects of it in the economy go on for another six months or for the rest of 2021, we want to make sure that we're gonna be there at the end of it. So I think that that may not be sexy and exciting. But that's what we're focused on.

 

Maya Acosta  35:19

It's so hard to talk about things right now, because we're still in that transitional period, 

 

Annette Baker  35:24

you know, we're very much looking forward to being able to get the vaccine and for our employees to get the vaccine, and to welcome customers and larger numbers back into our stores. We've been limiting traffic in our stores. And we would just love to be able to see more people and educate more people will probably start with some small just sample events, where we give out samples before we do big events, like what we've done with you in the past. And maybe we can do a facebook live together sometime soon. I mean, like we did it together. Or maybe we can, we can do it remotely together, Marian and I don't wear masks because even though please don't just get us Yes, sorry. We wear them all the time. Yeah. But in our store, and anytime we go out. But when just when we're together, we don't even though we don't live together, we're sisters. And we've had to work together this whole time in close proximity. But in our store all of our employees do. And so if we were going to do a facebook live with us what I meant we could maybe do something like that

 

Maya Acosta  36:22

Interesting. But you know, my husband has told me that I'm probably immune now that I've had COVID, right, that thing has changed. And I told him, you know, I'm going to continue to do what I was doing before, which is take precautions, because I don't know if I can still be a carrier and get other people sick.

 

Annette Baker  36:38

Exactly. And that's, that's what I've heard, even after we get even after I get the vaccine, I intend to do that, because you can still give it to other people. But hopefully, at some point later this year, that will enough people will have the vaccine that that will change,

 

Maya Acosta  36:54

Hopefully, what is the best way for people to get a hold of you to follow you on social media and to support you than ordering from you.

 

Annette Baker  37:01

Naturesplate.com and we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or a lot more active on Facebook and Instagram. And it's just nature's plate on both supporting us, obviously, you know, trying our food. And then if you like it, you know ordering from us regularly or subscribing to a meal plan, which is the best deal. We actually have a code right now, for new meal plan subscribers to get $10 off for four weeks in a row. It's feel amazing one word, and you can use that at naturesplate.com for a meal plan. But aside from that, and realize all of those things cost that that cost money, and people may or may not be in a position to do that. Or they may be cooking for themselves, sharing our information on social media, whether it's on next door or Facebook or Instagram or wherever is very helpful, because like I said, a little earlier word of mouth is by far our biggest growth engine. And so people will you know, write a review on Yelp or share the information on social media. That helps us immensely.

 

Maya Acosta  38:06

Yes, you know, I keep forgetting how important reviews are especially right now. If you have purchased from Nature's Plate, we should write a review

 

Annette Baker  38:14

Google reviews are great too. A lot of people find us there so that not just Yelp. But Google reviews are great. And I've tried to do that more for other small businesses. I think in our efforts to support small businesses, I can't always afford to do what I would like. But sharing their information and writing reviews and telling other people is the best way, 

 

Maya Acosta  38:33

The best way to help keep you going. And your mission of really helping to get the city healthier is to support you. So I'll share all of those links in the show notes as well. We appreciate it. It's always been I've always enjoyed working with you guys hearing from you guys supporting you if I can. And so it's nice to see your faces again. And I hope that we can get together in the future.

 

Annette Baker  38:58

It's great to see you too. And yes, we love you and Plant Based DFW and Dr. Riz and hopefully we can all do an event together in the near future.

 

Maya Acosta  39:07

Well thank you again for your time. I know you guys stay really busy. So thank you for this time. 

 

Annette Baker  39:11

Thank you, Maya. 

 

Maya Acosta  39:12

Thank you so much. You've been listening to the Plant Based DFW Podcast show. If you like our content, please like, share and leave a review. Our goal is to provide quality episodes to help support the community.