Follow your dreams and do not let others tell you that you can’t do it, not even you!” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
When you take the initiative to take the path of a vegetarian, you know you have moved into a whole new community different from meat eaters. Millions of persons transition for various reasons, be it lifestyle, religious reasons, animal welfare concerns, health, experimentation, the diversity is countless and the vegetarian community caters to the occasional veggie eaters to those who identify as die hard vegans.
Some however, have the best of both worlds. One of which is twenty-seven year old, Renee Saunders, founder of Ren’s Bake and Bites. She has dipped her talent into the vegetarian community and came up with showcasing her passion through vegan and gluten free sweet treats.
“I started doing desserts over three years now and it’s been a hell of a journey! From going to random people to family and over time growing clientele I have no regrets. As of last year persons started saying “hey you should get into vegan desserts there’s a big market and they will pay the extra money “ , and so I would take all the suggestions, thought about it and started to do samples.” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
While she is not a vegetarian, but she enjoys vegetarian inspired meals, she decided to go gluten free and vegan pastries and treats. She was motivated to tap into the market based on suggestions from current clients and onlookers who threw the idea her way since there was a growing market especially in Jamaica.
“There are a lot of customers who are for vegan desserts and I intend to continue to increase my clientele to satisfy their stomach… I received positive feedback and got a few orders and over a couple of months I now have a good vegan clientele. I have not received bad criticism with vegan desserts or other desserts just suggestions to suit their preference, but I always try to ensure they’re baked close to perfect( nothing is perfect).” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
In recent years, it is noticed that persons are more susceptible to taking better care of their bodies and as such they longevity is extended. Be it through exercise, yoga and/or 5k walk and runs, taking vitamins and going on a nutrition regimen, or even dieting and watching their intake, it is acknowledged that the world is going ‘green’ and being healthier. So it’s not a surprise that the market for gluten free and organic desserts which is consumed by both the healthy meat eaters and committed vegetarians.
“Most of my customers are meat eaters and sweet tooth persons but my vegan customers are just as satisfied. Satisfaction is key.” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
Through her research, she found that eating vegan foods and desserts reduces cholesterol, lowers risk of stroke and obesity, improves mood, and satisfies nutritional requirements. Also since vegetarians have a higher consumption of vitamins C and E, unsaturated fat, folic acid, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and numerous phytochemicals, this results in them having lower blood pressure and can prevent various diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
With benefits come the drawbacks to this lifestyle and while Renee believes that they trump in comparison to the disadvantages, they are still worth being mentioned. Some persons who choose this vegetarian lifestyle find that they lack protein in their diet, or believe that they are deficient in it and as such eat more and overdo their protein intake. Also, it is difficult to eat at any popular restaurant as most don’t offer vegan meals that they would enjoy or feel comfortable partaking in. Another drawback is that sometimes if the family and friends don’t support their lifestyle and err differently; it could prove difficult and expensive to budget for both meals as well as the issue of social engagement.
As every good entrepreneur who looks to strive for greatness and success, she works on improving her business wherever necessary.
“[That entails] coming up with new recipes for clients and potential customers, going through the rough patches but still accomplishing my goals. It’s a journey for a reason and you have to be able to deal with whatever comes your way. At the end of the day you feel excited and proud to get through it all.” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
She not only has goals for her business, but also her health, where she is trying to eat well and exercise daily.
“It’s easier said than done and more expensive to eat healthy but it’s definitely worth it. Exercise and eating clean has a positive impact on your body and you not only look but feel better and more active.” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
She has thoughts and plans of going into catering for all kinds of consumers including vegan meals. When asked where she sees herself and her business in five years, she admitted that although she hasn’t decided on whether or not she will open her own bakery, café or restaurant. However, she knows she will make that dream a reality in the future.
“I really enjoy experimenting with food overall and coming up with new desserts not just the typical desserts as it brings me more joy when I see the end product and can call it mine, and people who are interested can try it out at their homes and experience the same happiness I get from baking.” – Renee Saunders in an exclusive interview with the Caribbean Current.
For more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to order some of her very vegan and delicious treats!
By Alexandra Daley