“If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.”
Courtney C. Stevens, author
Adapt or die, they say.
I have just sent off our winter 2022 menu to the local printers; something I’ve done more times than I can count over the last five years. This time hits different though. For the first time since we opened in October 2016, the menu is no longer vegan.
After spending years (yes, years) going back and forth on this decision, I have finally decided to include poached eggs on our menu.
If we’ve been here for years with a fully vegan offering, why cave in and choose to support an industry that goes against the core beliefs of the vegan philosophy? The hospitality industry has survived two years of constant interruption and ongoing staff shortages. If we can get through that, we can get through anything. Right?
Yes and no. There is a huge difference between a business ‘surviving’ and ‘thriving.’ My business thrives because I work in or on it seven days a week. Every day of the year. Even while on holidays overseas. Even in recovery after surgery. Even on Christmas Day.
While I whole heartedly believe a 100% vegan café can survive in regional Victoria, I am not convinced it can thrive without extreme personal sacrifice, purely because there isn’t enough people day to day who are wanting an egg-less brunch.
The decision to do this finally clicked after re-reading one of my favourite books recently, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. “Why are you working so hard?” Sarah writes. “To be happy at home. But you’re never at home – in mind, body, or spirit – because you’re always working. So why are you working so hard? To be happy at home.”
It’s a pretty sobering thought to realise I had created a whole business encouraging others to make healthier food choices and “live the sweet life”, and yet I hadn’t been showing myself the same care.
I have asked a lot of questions about where to source eggs for the café. We decided on 12 Good Eggs – a free range farm near Moulamein. They actually market their eggs as ‘paddock eggs’ rather than free range. Compared to the industry standard of 10,000 hens/hectare their stocking density is just 150 hens/hectare. You can read more about them here.
Will we start using eggs throughout our other dishes, in food that usually requires eggs, like French Toast, Corn Fritters, baked cakes? Definitely not. If it’s not broke, why fix it? Eggs will be available as an add on option to a meal only, much like a hash brown or (dairy free) haloumi is.
Will we stop at eggs? Will dairy milk feature soon enough? I don’t think so. Although, if someone told me five years ago that I’d deviate from my vegan roots and start serving eggs I would have called bullshit. I don’t like the idea of adding dairy milk to our drinks menu, but who knows? If my business was on the brink of closure and I needed to adapt to survive then I would seriously consider it.
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent...It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Some may see this as selfish, prioritizing profit over values. But it isn’t selfish, it’s responsible. Everyone is equally worthy of putting themselves first and making decisions that prioritize self-care and balance.
The new menu kicks off this week and I’m open to the change.
Adapt or die, they say.
“If people are highly successful in their profession they lose their senses.
Sight goes. They have no time to look at pictures.
Sound goes. They have no time to listen to music.
Speech goes. They have no time for conversation.
They lose their sense of proportion – the relations between one thing an another.