In 2017, friends John Bonnell and David Orr Gaucher launched Wholly Veggie after realizing that many of our eating habits focused too heavily on meat and they wanted to create a more sustainable option for consumers. After doing some research the duo realized that people loved vegetables they simply did not enjoy the time and work necessary for preparing veggies. This week we spoke to John to learn more about Wholly Veggie!
What is your business called and what does it do?
Wholly Veggie! Our mission is to help inspire a more sustainable way to feed the planet by getting more vegetables onto your plate. We like to keep it simple. Tasty products loaded with nutritious veggies that are easy to work with and incorporate into meals when you don’t have much time to cook.
What made you want to do this work?
David and I met working for an organic meat company. However, while working there, Dave became vegan, I became vegetarian and we both felt that we were supporting an industry that wasn’t sustainable long term. We wanted to do something positive for the planet so we quit our jobs, and started Wholly Veggie!
What problem does this solve?
Across all age groups, Canadians don’t eat enough vegetables. This was also quite noticeable in the release of Canada’s new food guide. Our goal is to help solve that and make it easy for you to add more veggies to any meal.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
Generally, we find our clientele to be those interested and engaged in their own health and wellness journey or are keeping a healthy home. We continue to expand our clientele by showcasing the ease and importance of eating well.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
Our products are sold in many grocery retailers across Canada and the United States. We’re also hoping to have our eCommerce platform live by the middle of June!
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
In almost every area in the city, you can find our products at local grocery stores, from Fiesta Farms, 4 life Foods, Noahs, and the Big Carrot, to larger retailers like Pusateri’s, Organic Garage, Farm Boy, Whole Foods, Sobeys, Metro and Loblaws. Those interested in seeing where they can pick up our products can go to our website for a full list of retailers in their area.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
Why should I buy your products vs. something like Beyond Meat?
We’re fans of what Beyond Meat is doing to help encourage the broader population to reduce meat in their diet, but with Wholly Veggie, we don’t think you need to make a vegetable look like meat to eat it. If you are looking for easy ways to add more veggies in your diet, whether it’s breakfast, snacking, lunch or dinner, we’ve got you covered.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part is hearing from the people who love our products. The hardest part is packing up from a tradeshow on a Sunday night at 11pm during the dead of winter.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Oh you guys got into Loblaws, you must be killing it! Yeah, nope. Getting into a grocery store is just the beginning. Remember that on a cold December night, at 1am, you’re still the one unloading your tradeshow booth by yourself back at your warehouse when you realize you still have to return the rental van and take an uber home before work the next day. But loving what you do makes it all worth it.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
Station Cold Brew. Mitchell, Steve and the Crew at Station were beside us at our first ever trade show. On top of having an awesome Cold Brew, they were really helpful in giving us guidance and pointers as we were just starting out. They’ve become friends of ours and we’d love to see them up next in the Toronto Guardian.