We opened our Plant Based Cafe last May in our Downtown Vancouver store. It was with the amazing help and dedication of Joe and Heather Cunliffe who own Bliss cafe. Their Victoria based Cafes are arguably the best anywhere, using only the best quality, organic ingredients. I have been, and will always be, a huge fan of them and their businesses. I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all their help and support to help me understand what it takes to operate a uber high quality Plant Based Juice Bar.
Over the last year, we have pushed and pulled to figure out who we are and what the market wants from us. The ideals of Plant Based (100% Vegan is a difficult thing depending on who you are, more on that in another post), Organic, food business, is energizing. We love teaching people how to cook at Cook Culture but must be a big tent type of business as most people do not live a Plant Based lifestyle and are not overly interested in learning how to become Plant Based. Although, when someone else is doing the cooking….? That seems to be another thing entirely.
So we have just re-launched as CULTURE LAB.
Why Culture Lab? Because we get all geeky when it comes to food and love to experiment with what we eat. We believe deeply that food can make us sick, get by, do well, or thrive – and I’ll take THRIVE anyday. However, thriving is not the same for each person, as we are all at our own unique space in time.
For instance, when I was 24, I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now. I barely exercised, I drank way too much – all the time , I ate whatever was tasty, and I stayed out way too late at any opportunity. Maybe I was a ‘typical-ish’ 25 year old but I was not on a good path. I was going almost nowhere in my career, and the woman that I had fallen in love with was not going to be with the guy that I had chosen to become.
I looked at myself, and I was dissatisfied. This was not the life that I wanted to be a part of. Working for the weekend and living my life in a haze was not going to be my future.
Change did not come quickly – or easily. I had given up smoking a few years before, but alcohol was the next issue. Fortunately while making behaviour changes, like staying out all night, it became quite easy to put the bottle down. I ‘d watched my father make mistake after mistake because of his dependence on booze and now that I was pulling my head out of my ass, it became clear to me that alcohol had no space in my future. I haven’t had a drink in well over 12 years.
Now for food – this has always been harder for me. I LOVE to eat, and I LOVE fatty, sweet food. I eat too fast and hence I eat too much. I started running seriously around 26 and slowly grew my distance. This was a huge boon for me as a way to lose and maintain weight, however it has always been hard to be ‘skinny’. I can run 100km per week, week after week, and still carry an extra 10 to 15 pounds. Why? Because I don’t always make awesome food choices and I am not strict enough with myself. Making perfect food choices all the time for optimum health is really, really. tough. When I am peak training for a Marathon or Ultra race, I am famished. I can burn 1,500 to 4,000 calories per day, everyday, and I crave food almost hourly. It’s so easy at this point to put more calories back in than came out, especially with the wrong food, as I get hungry every hour .
I could eat fatty cheese covered pasta, with toast and peanut butter, and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is what my ‘basic’ brain craves, especially when I’m tired. Making optimally healthy food when I get home from work/kids activities at 8pm can be overwhelming.
However, I’ve learned how well my body can recover and cope when I’m not eating crap food. I feel awesome when I fill my plate with veggies, pluses, legumes and whole grains. I have basically eliminated saturated fat, cut way back on sugar and vary, vary, rarely eat dairy. Now at 45 I am more fit than I’ve ever been and race farther and faster than I did in my 30’s.
This is why my wife and I started Culture Lab. Along with the important ethical and environmental reasons, we wanted to have a food business that we would LOVE to eat in all the time – not just as home. We wanted to choose whatever and be satisfied that we were eating as healthy as we could. When we eat a treat (Culture Lab makes some fine treats) we wanted it to be made with the highest quality ingredients as possible, while understanding how sugar is processed by our liver.
The entire team has put a huge amount of thought and research into each Juice, Smoothie, Tonic, Treat, and Food Item. We are utilizing the latest understanding of health effects of nutrients, Omega oils, protein, pre and probiotics and whole food, to compose a menu that makes sense to us – and hopefully you. We understand that time is limited and we all have cravings for food that is satiating. We’ve developed some classics, like our take on Kraft Dinner, or a fatty Nut Based Smoothie, and our new favourite…the Peanut Butter Turtle Bar….it’s crazy good. The Smoothie and Juice menu was developed to give you the maximum bang for your buck. All organic but most importantly, each one is developed to help you meet your goals; feeling tired? We can help. Feeling sick? We can help. Want to be more mentally on point? We can help. Want to ensure you are getting the right nutrients to live a Plant Based lifestyle? We can definitely help!
So we’re super excited about the new brand launch and want to invite you to come check it out for yourself when you are in downtown Vancouver. We would love to hear from you through Instagram @culturelabjuicebar and our website at
Thanks. Jed, Regan, Chloe and Taylor