This pandemic has taught almost everyone the benefits of staying healthy. But let’s be real, shifting to clean eating is sometimes hard to achieve because almost all of the healthy meals available in the market are beyond most people’s budget.
Fitness coach-turned-entrepreneur Paul John Casquejo, together with his business partners Steffany Kabingue and Irish Kabingue, launched Veggie Tah Bai to heed the call for affordable meals that are healthy and organic while at the same time flavorful and filling.
What started as an online fresh fruit and vegetables delivery service, Veggie Tah Bai, got its produce from Paul John’s family farm.
“At first, our freshly picked produce from the farm was only for personal consumption, but we decided to offer it to the public last year before the lockdown, to offer hassle-free produce shopping and to promote healthy eating,” Paul John said.
The 25-year-old, who has been on a plant-based lifestyle for two years now, was staying in a place with no healthy meals available in the area during the lockdown.
“Looking for a restaurant or a cafe that offered plant-based meals or even just the ingredients was a struggle in the area,” he recalled.
With his plant-based life experience and medical background, Paul John confidently added food menu items under the brand Veggie Tah Bai, and opened a small but filled-with-all-things-hearty cafe nestled on the third floor of FTT Building, Gov. M Cuenco St., Nasipit, Talamban just across the University of San Carlos–Talamban Campus.
Paul John’s business partner Steffany transformed a small white room into a light, welcoming space. Eye-pleasing decor such as a wooden barrel that serves as a table holding its colorful menu, shelves full of plants, and a “welcome” wooden signboard will welcome customers as they enter the shop.
Wooden shelves that house its organic dried goods are placed side by side, surrounding its only table—a medium sized wooden table. Hanging under its ceiling are winnowing baskets that add more pizzazz to the place.
Veggie Tah Bai features a selection of one’s go-to healthy food in their purest form, some of Paul John’s favorite plant-based meals, and plant-based dried goods for those who want to make their own healthy meals at home such as granola, legumes, seeds and grains, to name a few.
The health shop also offers “silog,” a classic Filipino breakfast dish containing sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg) to satisfy plant-based people’s silog cravings without cheating.
Its version of silog consists of egg, made of squash (for the egg yolk), and adlai flour (for the egg white); brown rice; and meat substitute for its tocilog, cornsilog, longsilog and bbqsilog.
Burger and sandwiches are also made healthier without sacrificing their flavors. Fries and burger patties are oil-free. All of its food offerings including smoothies and salads are cholesterol-free and oil-free, low calorie, and have no preservatives and hidden chemicals or refined sugars added, to help one meet his fitness and wellness goals.
To bring Paul John’s vision of offering accessible and affordable healthy options, Veggie Tah Bai has also partnered with local plant-based brands to give more options to its customers.
Veggie Tah Bai is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.