THE CHALLENGES OF PLANT- BASED EATING
At Komo, we’re on a mission to make plant-based meals a staple on every dinner table. We launched Komo in March 2021, just over a year ago during the pandemic. We’re all about sharing feel-good foods that make plant-based eating easier, yet still incredibly wholesome and hearty. This is central to everything we do at Komo.
Hence, with this mission in mind we created our first product: Plant-based Lasagna. But how did we come to this decision?
Before launching Komo, we knew that plant-based eating is better for people, planet and animals. And there is a dietary shift towards this, whether through one meal a day, week, or month. But we noticed that despite the benefits, the move towards plant-based eating has many barriers and is not easy. We wanted to understand this, so we spent some time talking to vegans, plant-based or plant-curious friends (sometimes referred to as flexitarians) to hear their stories and experiences.
Our Inspiration in Creating the Lasagna
One particular story resonated with us:
We spoke with Jen, a vegan/plant-based eater and she mentioned a challenge that seems to be quite universal but is rarely talked about: plant-based eating can be lonely. Jen spoke about feeling awkward in large gatherings or social settings. She mentioned her strong desire to consistently eat plant-based, yet the pressure of explaining herself or the lack of plant-based options made it a constant challenge. She even felt like a burden and that she’s “rocking the boat” whenever mentioning her plant-based eating. That wasn’t a situation Jen enjoyed.
"Plant-based eating can be lonely"
Hearing about her struggles, we had to ask her how she was managing to stay consistent with plant-based eating in those social settings. “Well, what do you do in these situations? How would you prepare?”
Jen then mentioned her famous lasagna she brings to Thanksgiving or group gatherings. Given the work that goes into it, it’s not an everyday meal for her to make, but during those special occasions she said it’s worth it. When she brings her vegan lasagna to those gatherings, everyone raves about it and enjoys the meal without questioning the absence of meat or dairy. “If it’s hearty, comforting, warm, filling and tasty, no one complains.”
After speaking to many others, we heard similar stories of feeling isolated and lonely when eating plant-based food, and missing out on the pleasure of sharing with others. And not everyone was able to cook up their own meal like Jen.
It was at this point, we knew we wanted to create plant-based food worth sharing, but what kind? We were reminded of Jen’s words, specifically “hearty” and “comforting” and our minds immediately went to comfort foods. Plant-based comfort foods. We knew that comfort foods are a great non-confrontational way to get the conversation started around how possible plant-based eating can be. When people are sharing food together, they’re often more receptive to talking about it and opening their minds and perspectives. That’s the power of food.
"If it’s hearty, comforting, warm, filling and tasty, no one complains"
As plant-based eaters, Chef Fred and I echo these challenges. It’s not easy sharing a meal with those we love who may not be as open to plant-based eating. But if we are able to create comfort foods with familiar and widely enjoyed flavours, textures and experiences, we can make plant-based eating and sharing easier. Our foods can be the spark that starts the conversation around the dinner table about how easy, wholesome and hearty plant-based eating can be.
So, why Lasagna?
We were inspired by Jen’s story. She mentioned lasagna as a meal she wouldn’t make everyday, but is a crowd pleaser through and through. How can we make this burden of a hearty, family-sized vegan lasagna a key part of our brand?
We also didn’t see any family size vegan options in grocery stores. Yes, there were meat lasagnas in family sizes and individual microwave portions, but where were the sharing size plant-based meals? Food is best when shared, so we decided to venture down the path to make shareable comfort favourites and fill this gap in the grocery freezers. We want people to be able to pick-up something convenient to make for dinner, easily shareable with their family, made with real ingredients and satisfying - this to us is feel good food.
We set out to make the best frozen plant-based lasagna you can find or make. Check back for part 2 as we share how we went through the process of creating our lasagna.