Instead of reconciling vegetarianism and the local food movement, most people have directed their energy into comparing the two and arguing about which is better for the environment, or which boosts the local economy more. The truth is, however, that both philosophies are part of the bigger plan to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live! So, with that said, is it possible for the two to thrive in one business? Here are ten local entrepreneurship ideas for a vegan business:
Buy Local Produce
If you are not familiar with what’s available locally, you might be having products or ingredients for your vegan store shipped from afar. Check with local farmers, community gardens, farmers’ markets and get in touch with your local food movement to find out what’s available close to you.
Manufacture Products Locally
Most products undergo a long process that involves manufacturing, shipping and processing. If it’s possible to find a way to manufacture some of the vegan products you offer in your city or town, you can help create jobs for your community, and help make your community more self-sufficient. As a bonus, you will reduce the carbon footprint of your business (and you just may save some money in the process).
Find a Local Supplier
Instead of buying the products you sell from a foreign supplier, look for local alternatives. The things that are produced locally may not be exactly the same, but giving your customers a local choice is a great way to show them that you, as a business owner, are concerned about making your local economy a more sustainable one.
Introduce Seasonal Foods
If you are in the food business, offer your customers seasonal foods – and make that part of your marketing campaign! Offering items for a limited time when they are in season will make them extra-special, and your customers will appreciate your business even more. Here are some seasonal dish ideas you might want to check out.
Get to Know Your Local Networks
Familiarizing yourself with the food co-ops, community gardens, seed saver groups and farmers’ markets in your area will lead you to more contacts and knowledge about what is and can be locally grown within your community. The same goes for other types of business. Support the local business community – they are the ones who can best support you!
Review Management Policies
Corporate management policies are usually responsible for processes that are totally counterproductive to the principles of the local food movement. For example, an obsolete policy about importing soy products may be unnecessary if soy is already being grown locally.
Experiment with Unusual Local Food Items
In the past, you have ignored certain local foods because they are not commonly consumed. Why not try experimenting with them instead? Introducing a great, new, local food could be the next big hit of your restaurant!
Become a Proponent of Local Business
Local business thrives when it is supported from all directions. As a business owner who wants local people to shop at your store, you must also show support for your own community. Make a point of spending your consumer dollars locally – as well as the dollars you spend on behalf of your business. When you walk the walk, people will notice.
Understand the Principles of the Local Food Movement
More than anything, make sure you understand the principles of the local food movement. This is absolutely necessary before you integrate it with your vegetarian or vegan business. This movement is taking on a life of its own – there are lots of businesses doing it, and lots of ideas out there. Sites like www.sustainabletable.org have lots of great information.
Calculate and keep track of how much you are spending or saving by shopping and sourcing your products locally. Calculate the carbon emissions you are saving, and use it in your marketing campaign. If you’re doing something good for the planet, don’t be afraid to shout it out – it will be great for your business, and the cause – you just may inspire other business owners in your area to do the same.