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Meet Rosa Guerrero Contreras of California Vegan Food Company in San José

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosa Guerrero Contreras.

Rosa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
This business idea all started from a simple healthy snack, ants on a log. Well, let me backup just a bit. Before I revisited that snack in my early 20’s, I grew up in San José, CA as an only child of two wonderful, loving parents. Although loving, they were not huge on self-care or living healthy lifestyles. As a growing woman in this society, I quickly noticed how the food my parents chose to eat and the lifestyles they live had greatly affected their health and quality of life. My parents are not the only ones that suffer from chronic illnesses and so a trend began to form around me as I saw and continue to see the health of an older generation take turns for the worst and forever scar entire families.

My mom has had Lewybody dementia for the past nine years and my dad has been a type 1 diabetic since he was 26 (now 64 years old). Growing up with a diabetic dad and later degenerating mom lead me to try and find all solutions possible to fight these diseases. At the very least, I sought to isolate a small piece of the problem that I could solve with whole plant foods and a more active lifestyle. Because of the various familial and societal factors, I decided to start this business. I believe that business is a grand tool for positive social change that has the opportunity to sustain the masses. I want this business not only for my own long term security, the security and the legacy of my future family, but also to provide more career paths to others and contribute to sustainable communities and planet.

As I sat in my mothers’ family room contemplating health and wellness, I became very aware of my eating habits and thought, “hmm, what healthy snack can I make today?”. On this warm summer day, it occurred to me to make ants on a log (celery sticks, peanut butter and raisins), which sparked the very seed that has now evolved in the small business I run today. Thoughts of healthful food, convenient, delicious and fast buzzed through my mind and marked the start of a six years journey that would get me where I am today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Today I am founder and owner of California Vegan Food Company (CVFC), established March 2019. The time for budding vegan food businesses could not be better and ever more for minority women-owned and people of color operated organizations. Our greatest opportunity with our products is thanks to the rise in popularity of vegan food, vegan lifestyle and the awareness of the health and environmental benefits of plants.

Challenges for businesses like mine are mostly in the financial resources. As aforementioned with my parent’s health issues I was not able to earn at my highest potential in my early 20’s because I was taking care of them. I was not able to save as much money as I would have liked to if life situations were different, but I am grateful that the business is moving. I currently have a full-time job as Partnership Manager with a nonprofit named Kitchen Table Advisors, which poses a very obvious challenge of time and time management. Thanks to my business partner and husband, family and a team of passionate colleagues and friends, we have been able to sell our packaged and prepared food at 15+ events in 2019 and earned $30,000 in our first year. It has also been a challenge to find part-time employees to manage the production operations and living in the Bay Area does not help on the financial resources front.

You may know or have heard of the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat products, and CVFC is not like them. We do make a “processed food”, but all of our ingredients are natural, artisanal, and not created in a laboratory or loaded with fat. Our communities are waking up to the possibilities of integrating more plant-based foods into their diet for many reasons; they want to follow the trend, they are faced with health issues, curious to try something new, resonate with veganism, and more. Our narrative does not include language that shames or speaks ill of people to choose to eat meat, instead we embrace all people’s diet choices because there are vegans in this world that give the rest a bad wrap. You might be familiar with that “extreme vegan” and that is not us. CVFC likes to think of itself like the bridge that connects the gap between a meat centric and plant friendly our perspective. In order to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses put into the air we need to do many things and one of which is to reduce the amount of animals we grow and harvest for food.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with California Vegan Food Company – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
CVFC is a start-up vegan food manufacturing company that currently produces two flavors of our plant-based meat alternative in Chickpea chicken and Black bean beef flavors. These meats have legumes, almond butter and wheat protein as the base, which we then combine with spices to create the meat flavors (no animal ingredients what’s so ever!).

CVFC was incorporated in March 2019 and began operations May 2019. We have spent the majority of our time vending at festivals, community events, and doing our own pop-up events to increase awareness about our company and products.

We currently manufacture our products in house here in San Jose at a commercial kitchen named 1505 Kitchen Space and are looking to grow our community and partnerships in 2020.

In our first year we took on the pop-up model and attended many festivals and community events with our taqueria style prepared foods. We are most famous for our tortas, which contain house made cashew sour cream and mayo. My dream is to become the first meat alternative to hit the animal protein dominated industry, but at our current price points its difficult for restaurants like taquerias to make money using our product. That being said it’s never too early to begin the conversations. As you know, diet has a huge influence on overall human health, but especially on the environment. Our mission is to produce high-quality vegan food products to satisfy our customers and contribute to a more sustainable planet.

Our long term vision is to co-create a healthy planet fueled by the benefits of plants, which have the power to improve human health and regenerate our environment.

Our core values: Leadership | Humility | Perseverance |Self-discipline | Honesty | Love truly sets us apart from other companies because we are not only trying to be a thriving business that makes money, but we are also aiming to develop our team as transformational leaders and affect our communities positively.

Through this mission, vision and values we aim to grow significantly over the next decade and beyond emphasizing the importance of person to person relationships based on values and a common goal.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Ultimately we would like to be a worldwide entity and work with communities all over the world, but for now we are simply focused on sustainable growth.

Pricing:

  • $5.36 – 1/2LB – Chickpea Chicken (See website for shipping!)
  • $9.70 – 1LB – Chickpea Chicken (See website for shipping!)
  • $6.35 – 1/2LB – Black bean Beef (See website for shipping!)
  • $11.30 – 1LB – Black bean Beef (See website for shipping!)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo credits to R&A Media

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