We spoke with Oren Epstein, owner of BIO RAW. We found out why he wants to shake up the food industry, why you won’t find iceberg lettuce in his salad bowls, and the vegetable he resonates with most.
You work with vegan brands. Are you vegan?
Of course I am! I am a proud vegan activist. I have been vegan for over 4 years and I’d never go back. I have made it may goal to inspire, educate and empower change in our society and help do everything I can to help shift humanity towards repairing and defending the earth and all it’s beings , not just those society deems worthy. I am so vegan even my rescue dog is thriving on a strictly vegan diet! (that’s committed!)
And what does being vegan mean to you?
Being vegan means trying to heal the world one meal or positive action at a time. Whether it is choosing to not consume any animal bi-products or even ensuring the clothes I wear have a minimal environmental and social impact. It’s not just about the foods that I eat, but also the clothes that I wear and the businesses I support. Veganism is an outward expression of abundance and love to everyone and every being. It so important to vote with your dollar. (I couldn’t agree more. I pride myself on being a Lisa-tarian and that every dollar we spend really does matter!)
How do you choose which brands to work with?
I only work with brands that are actively trying change the retail market, that are innovators in their space, and that are manufacturing the best products ever. Products that promote living at your optimum self and in harmony with nature, that support local communities and positive social change. (how incredible, thank you!)
Are you in the food business because it is lucrative?
I’m in the food business because I really want to make a positive impact in our food chain. From a young age, I recognized there was a fundamental issue with the foods available in the retail market. Too many business are valuing profits over integrity. I’m trying to usher in a conscious shift towards more food producers creating REAL, ORGANIC, and plant based food that puts consumers first. Too many people are sick and misinformed. There is too much emphasis on large food producers creating the cheapest food possible. That will never be my objective. I will only produce the healthiest, immunity-boosting, and best-tasting food ever.
Do you think Bio Raw salads can help change the stigma that fast food is unhealthy?
When you think Fast-Food you often associate that with toxic and acidic carcinogenic food. BIO RAW is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE! My goal is to reappropriate the word ‘fast food.’ Everything that BIO RAW produces is made with integrity and extremely high standards of food quality and food safety. I take exceptional steps to ensure that all of our inputs are the best quality available and ALWAYS certified organic. The food we produce is not only environmentally conscious (and made in the most sustainable ways ever) all of our products are extremely nourishing, delicious, and are saving the countless lives of animals and humans alike. (we have confidence in you, and we agree, not all vegan food is created equal!)
What makes your salads “nutrient-dense”?
All of our salads have been designed by an extremely talented holistic nutritionist and co-founder of RawFoodz salad dressings, Michelle Kopman. Every single ingredient that she has specifically chosen serves the purpose to nourish our bodies and to have exceptional nutrient density. For example, we do not use traditional mixed greens or iceberg lettuce in our salads. Our salads are full of nutrient and mineral rich kale, and microgreens which are chock full vitamin A, C, and K. All of our meals provide the perfect macros for a healthy and delicious salad to fill your body with nourishment. (we adore and appreciate Michelle, and have interviewed her as well!)
You must have a lot of food waste in your preparation, what do you do with it?
We work with a great, local organization called, Urban Street Organics, and we divert 100% of our waste away from the landfills. We have taken steps to do things in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Our packaging is made from plants, not petroleum, and can be composted in the green bin. Our waste is diverted to different farm sanctuaries and organic composting centers, and all of our recycling is hand sorted. (amazing!)
What ingredient do you use most of, and why?
RawFoodz salad dressings, dips and sauces. They are the most versatile products ever with endless ways to incorporate into any meal. RawFoodz products are made from 100% cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, which is essential for digestion of dark leafy greens and improves absorption of crucial fat soluble nutrients. They also contain a ton of apple cider vinegar which aids indigestion, boosts metabolism and encourages overall alkalinity.
As a young entrepreneur (relatively speaking) growing a business, what does your work schedule look like?
Every day is different for me. I run BIO RAW. I try to balance being physically active with my diligent work schedule, but it can be tricky for sure! I spend a lot of my time consulting with clients and offering the best service and advice that I can. The majority of my time is spent in the field at special events educating different communities.
Do you believe in work/life balance?
I am still mastering the art of being perfectly balanced, but I try to be very grounded. A lot of my work has been integrated into my personal life, so when you do something that you enjoy, it doesn’t make much of a difference. My clients and my staff have become my friends and family.
Do your friends think your work is awesome, or do they think you’re crazy? (Maybe both?!)
My friends think a little bit of both. They recognize the passion that I have for the work I am doing. I am starting to see that I am creating a mini food revolution, and I truly believe that veganism is the way of the future as many are jumping on the bandwagon. People are recognizing that they can enjoy life without animal bi-products, and often a better quality of life! So I definitely think I’m ahead of the trend and setting it for others, and I will always offer my guidance and support and resources to those who want to join the movement.
How much of your business is online vs offline?
I want to say that 90% of my work is online and connecting with consumers through digital media. However, as a food activist, a large amount of my work takes place at local events and markets, connecting with consumers and trying to educate the masses.
If you were a vegetable, which would you be and why?
I would definitely be a beet. Beets are exceptional at cleansing the blood and provide an exceptional source of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Beets are also an excellent source of tryptophan and betaine, both substances that promote a feeling of well-being. My life and personality really resonate with that. I do my best to be a positive light in the world and bring a feeling of well-being to the masses.
For more information visit www.orenepstein.ca.