Its 2am and Vyana is preparing to open to the public in a little more than a day from when I write this. I'm not even close to being ready, or at least the ready that I had anticipated when this vision was first born in 2018. I saw the sun shining and people coming and going from the Schuylkill River Trail to grab some fresh pressed juice on their bike or run. Maybe some students or faculty from MCCC taking advantage of the geographical closeness and walking down to grab some great plant based options that they've never tried before on their lunch. I could even smell the coffee brewing at 6am to be ready for the commuters getting ready to journey onto 422 that would start their day with our local coffee and untraditional breakfast treats. This vision would take a drastic shift only a few weeks before we planned to originally be open in March 2020.
If I am to be completely transparent here, Vyana was born decades before 2018 was even a thought in my little world. Although I never dreamed it exactly as it turned out, its forever been a dream of mine to share my experience of being a plant based foodie with the community. My journey began like many journeys do, driven by my own personal health issues in my early twenties that were not being eleviated by the "take two of these and I'll see you in the morning" prescript advice. Already a vegetarian since the age of 12, an unhealthy one at that, I was hell bent to find a way to feel like a normal, healthy person.
In my young adult life I was on many prescriptions for asthma, allergies and birth control with little to no relief on these prescribed meds and was having continuous break through bleeding that was quite heavy at times and was not ideal for someone with a busy life schedule, let alone an experience that should be had at all. I ended up debilitated with allergies so bad on so many days that I would be lying down on my lunch breaks at work or actually leaving for half days and coming back after the meds kicked in. Brain fogged, snots pooring continuously, eyes watering, body shaking and an overall sense of "this sucks" was pretty much a daily thing. But I was done feeling like this and began to do a lot of research. I ended up doing an elimination diet where I removed dairy, sugar and any processed foods from my diet. After only a few days the results were unbelievable!!! I wasn't huge on processed junk food or sugar but dairy was something I ate a lot of as my main source of protein. Keep in mind here that this is in the 1990s and the www wasn't completely introduced to mainstream until about 1993 and yes, I am dating myself here!! So other sources of protein that were locally obtainable weren't easily found back in the day. Cheese, cheese and more cheese was on my daily menu since I could remember. On salads, on bread, on pizza, on pasta and even just all by its pretty little self. Once I stopped the cheese, bread and pasta, since these were my main sources of fueling my body, I noticed that I could breathe better and my allergies were barely an issue. I can't even begin to explain the sense of liberation I was feeling and that maybe I was onto something huge here!! More and more research brought me into a plant based lifestyle with a wide variety of nutritional foods and the glorious world of juicing!
Funny how hard it is to give up cheese!! We will get more into this on another blog post in the near future and talk about the power and seduction this deliciousness can have over you. At the time, there were not cheese substitutes like there are today but there were a few recipes to be found for some nut based cheeses. Although skeptical at first, I was willing to give anything a try that might come close to what I thought I had been missing with the real deal. To my amazement, it wasn't only a good substitute, it was much better and none of the side effects of dairy. Over years of researching, experimenting and experiences in eating and personal conversations with my body and food, I found solutions for feeling vibrant, healthy and "normal". I had to find a way to share this knowledge with the world!
So fast forward some twenty plus years later and I find myself opening a plant based cafe in Pottstown, Pennsylvania where I also own a yoga studio and I am a holistic esthetician, Samana Holistic Center. The birth of which is an entire story itself and will surely find its way into a post here in the future. I know that many may not see the entire beauty behind a plant based cafe and think of it as a fad or the next "in" thing, but I assure you that plant based and whole foods are not a fad and it is as ancient as our planet. It wasn't until I stopped listening to all the outside chatter and all the remedies made for someone else, that I was able to find MY best life and what supported ME in it. For me it was finding the foods that would fuel this body so it can support a very, busy and active lifestyle and the bonus was the creation of a vision that has filled me with passion, love and compassion for all life here on this planet. I am truly LIVING!!!
You may or may not relate to what I went through to get here but what we do have in common is that we are human and in a worldwide pandemic and that has changed our lives. The changes are not good and they are not bad, they just are. I say this because we ALL must look at life a little differently, a little gentler and maybe with a lot more gratitude and compassion; both to ourselves and to the world around us. So things may not be exactly as I had imagined they would be as we set to open our doors this Saturday, but open we will. Keep in mind that we are all organic and it is winter and a snowy one at that making it challenging to fully stock our kitchen with what's on the menu. The items that aren't locally sourced or grown fresh are coming from places that have also been effected and turnaround time to get items is delayed by high demands and by shipping circumstances. The menu will be a slow roll out but I am confident that by spring and summer of this year we will be in full swing offering you an experience that may or may not be new to you. Either way, you can be sure that it is brought you to with only the best of intentions of love and compassion. Namaste.