The “Toby’s brand” started in a mom’s kitchen. Toby was making food for a reason – her kids were hungry. It wasn’t to support her family, make profits, or capitalize on “the next big thing.” It was out of necessity – to feed her kids. It was also important to Toby that her whole family be vegetarians and follow the same diet.
These days, Toby is retired and one of her sons, Jonah, now runs the company. In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month we sat down with Jonah to talk about how growing up vegetarian affected his life and food choices.
Why was it important to Toby for your whole family to eat vegetarian?
It was very important to my mother that we were vegetarian. My mother’s father died at age 52 of a heart attack. My mother attributed it to him eating red meat 3 meals a day.
What was a typical family meal?
A typical meal my mother would cook consisted of brown rice, cooked tofu or Tempeh steamed broccoli and a veggie platter with dip. We always had a veggie platter with dip.
How long were you a vegetarian?
I was a strict vegetarian from the day I was born to about 10 years old. My family continued to be vegetarians, but I began eating meat at friends houses starting at 10. However, 98% of my diet was vegetarian, until I was 18. From 18-30 I ate meat on a daily basis (mostly chicken and fish). From age 30 to the present I eat 80-90% vegetarian.
When you transitioned from a vegetarian to an omnivore, was it difficult?
Transitioning from vegetarian to omnivore was easy when I was young. Everything seemed to taste better with animal fat. However, as I got older, meat didn’t agree with me as much. Even though I liked the taste, the fat and heaviness I felt after eating got me back on a primarily vegetarian diet.
How do you think growing up vegetarian affect your food choices as an adult?
Being a vegetarian as a youth made me much more aware of the foods I eat as an adult. It’s not about being a vegetarian, but about being aware of how specific ingredients, processes and packaging impact a person’s body. It has made me food conscious, for better or worse.
And there you have it! We still practice our vegetarian roots here at Toby’s, but we accept all eaters and diets. Not everyone is a vegetarian, but we being plant-based is a huge part of who we are!
Michael Pollan sums it up best:
Or as we like to say, simple foods you can feel good about. Now, go celebrate the rest of Vegetarian Awareness Month and spread the word.