Soulara, Making veganism convenient
Soulara, the only 100% plant-based dedicated meal delivery service in Australia has officially launched into the market, delivering fresh and ready-to-eat meals packed with high-quality plant-based protein and nutrient-dense superfoods essential for good health. Using seasonal fresh produce sourced from local farmers and growers, Soulara meals contain phytonutrients to fight toxins and build immunity and are designed conveniently for the on-the-go health conscious individual.
In recent years, meal delivery services have risen in popularity, with consumers willing to pay more for the convenience of having ready-made meals delivered straight to their doorstep. Current research shows that meal delivery services make up a $600 million industry in Australia*.
Co-founder, Yuki Thomas started Soulara in mid-2017 after noticing a gap in the Australian market for a healthy meal delivery service catered to vegans. Tired of eating out and cooking meals from scratch, Yuki decided to create a meal delivery option centered around plant-based foods.
What does Soulara stand for?
Soulara stands for plant-based food powered by the sun. Soulara is derived from the Latin word sōl, which means sun in Romance languages. The sun to many of us is considered to be a symbol of light and life. We used Soulara because I wanted our brand to be synonymous with food that tastes so good that it feeds the body and nourishes the soul.
What has the reaction been from the public?
The reaction has been for the most part positive. To begin with, meal delivery services are so popular because most working professionals are time poor. But people are not simply interested in getting food delivered to their doorsteps anymore. We are all becoming increasingly conscious of what we put in our bodies.
We’ve received great feedback from customers who tell us that we have made the lives easier because they don’t have to think about putting together a meal that is both healthy and also hits their daily intake.
Most people have their weekly meals delivered to their office so they have their lunch sorted. It’s the same with dinner. It’s liberating not having to stress about what your next meal will be and it frees up so much time during your lunch hour when you don’t have to wait for your food.
Although your menu changes with the seasons, what has been the most popular meal you offer?
Our Healing Turmeric & Farro Soup! It’s so popular that we have kept it on even though soup is not usually the first meal that comes to mind during the summer. Turmeric is a great superfood that goes well with everything. Not only is it a vibrant shade of yellow, but it is also liver-friendly and contains anti-inflammatory properties, which is good for people who are overworked.
Do you work with plant-based chefs and nutritionists to build your menu?
Yes, we do! We undergo extensive consults with nutritionists to build a plant-powered nutrition program. We have a list of nutrition fundamentals that form the building blocks of the program. We don’t believe in calorie counting in the sense that we focus on nutrients and not a number. Food that nourishes the soul should have substance and contain nutrients that are essential for good bodily health.
Soulara meals are specifically designed to be packed full of superfoods that contain large quantities of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Our meals are also usually full of colour since plants are great sources of phytonutrients which help fight toxins and provide support to our immune systems. Each different colour represents a different family of healing nutrients.
We source our food from local farmers and growers because we believe it is important to build relationships with the people who are responsible for nurturing and caring for the food that ends up in each Soulara meal.
Using local fresh produce that is currently in season ensures that the food you eat is not only fresh but packed with flavour and nutritional value. We also partner with chefs who are doing amazing work and redefining what it means to eat the rainbow and superfoods without compromising on health or taste.
Soulara meals may look beautiful but what people usually don’t see is the amount of love and care that goes into assembling each dish. It’s a team effort.
You have an extensive Blacklist, how did you go about creating this list?
The blacklist, contrary to what the name suggests, is actually meant to be an inclusive list. We want our meals, as much as possible, to cater to everyone. To ensure that no one misses out, we made a choice to steer clear of the ingredients on our list only after much deliberation and extensive consults with our nutritionists. You’d realise that we tend to steer clear of anything artificial such as flavouring or sweeteners.
Aspartame, for instance, is a sugar substitute commonly found in packaged foods. It’s often marketed as a diet food, but what people don’t realise is there are numerous adverse side effects that can flow from consuming such a substance. At Soulara, we want to make sure people know exactly what they put in their bodies. Chances are, if we don’t understand or know what it is, we shouldn’t be putting it in our bodies.
You use the word plant-based for your range, which is vegan also, why did you choose to steer clear of the V word?
To be honest, it wasn’t a conscious decision to steer clear of the V word.
At the heart of it, I just wanted the food to speak for itself. There’s this perception that there aren’t many vegans can eat and the Soulara team and I wanted to change that.
When people think of vegan food, they tend to think in terms of what they can’t enjoy. It’s common knowledge that vegan food does not contain meat, dairy, and eggs, but what about the wide variety of ingredients that vegan food does encompass? We use the word plant-based to describe our range because a plant-based diet is centered around whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, seeds, grains, and legumes. A plant-based diet is a very visually-appealing and textural way of eating so to speak.
People also tend to think vegan food is synonymous with healthy food but what they don’t realise is that vegan food, similar to any other types of food, can be unhealthy even if it doesn’t contain meat, dairy and eggs, which is why Soulara meals are specially designed by nutritionists.
We get a lot of queries from people who aren’t vegan or vegetarian but are interested in trying our meals, which is great! We call this the veganning.
The beautiful thing about leading a plant-based life is that it is inclusive – everyone can do it. We are not saying that a plant-based diet is the only ethical and sustainable choice because everyone is different and your health circumstances might not allow you to do so, but we are here to start a conversation about why going plant-based might be easier than people think if they just give it a proper go.
What is next for Soulara?
We are just taking things one step at a time! Right now, we are in the process of building a new menu. We are also currently in the midst of designing a meal plan for the new year, which means our customers will have more choices in the near future.
What did we think?
We tried out 6 meals each last week, ordering was easy. You can filter the meals for any other dietary requirements (such as gluten-free for Simon).
The meals come FRESH in a recyclable box, we excitedly unboxed the goodies and wrote our names on them. Some of the meals were pretty amazing! Simon had the mushroom penne (Yes, it was gluten-free pasta). It had been cooked in mushroom broth so it made it extra tasty.
Now that we have eaten them all, we are super sad. We were able to keep our kitchen clean for pretty much a week! That is normally pretty hard because we both work from home and have all of our meals here and are run off our feet. It was just so convenient.
So would we recommend Soulara? Yes.