Plant-based Suc­cess

SLOW Magazine - - Contents -

Tammy Fry, Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor of The Fry Fam­ily Food Co. – the in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful meat al­ter­na­tive prod­uct com­pany started in South Africa – de­cided to ded­i­cate her ca­reer to spread­ing the word about plant-based life­styles.

In 1991, after a life­time as a meat eater, Wally Fry, Tammy’s fa­ther, de­cided to start creat­ing recipes with his wife, Deb­bie, a veg­e­tar­ian, with the aim of mak­ing nu­tri­tious prod­ucts that have the tex­ture and taste of meat for his fam­ily. Now, over two decades later, the busi­ness has boomed and is now in­ter­na­tional as well as multi-gen­er­a­tional, with the cou­ple’s chil­dren tak­ing over the helm.

Tammy di­vides her time be­tween South Africa, Aus­tralia, and the United King­dom as the com­pany is very fo­cused on in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion. “I re­mem­ber the days in our fam­ily’s home kitchen mak­ing the recipes. Of course now, the kitchen is much big­ger!” Fry’s is now avail­able in 27 coun­tries world­wide.

In ad­di­tion to the rise in ve­g­an­ism and veg­e­tar­i­an­ism pro­mot­ing the in­cor­po­ra­tion of meat al­ter­na­tives into di­ets, Tammy also at­tributes Fry’s suc­cess to con­sumers want­ing to sup­port busi­nesses with a con­science. And, de­spite their mas­sive growth over the years, Fry’s has never wa­vered on this. “In terms of the val­ues, the ethos, why we do what we do, our cul­ture of plac­ing prin­ci­ples above profit – none of that’s changed,” she says. “Added to that the way we treat our staff as fam­ily, our eth­i­cal choice of healthy in­gre­di­ents, and the way we make the food is the same.” Tammy and the Fry’s team also con­tin­u­ously strive for im­prove­ment by con­stantly search­ing out bet­ter and more sus­tain­able in­gre­di­ents. Their new ranges in­clude superfoods, co­conut oil, and they now pro­duce some gluten free va­ri­eties.

Fry’s started when Tammy was 10, and was such a huge part of her life grow­ing up that, when it came to the end of univer­sity and the de­ci­sion to pur­sue a ca­reer, it was a no-brainer to join her par­ents in the fam­ily busi­ness. “I’ve al­ways been pas­sion­ate about plant-based di­ets, so work­ing at Fry’s is my ideal job. I con­sider my­self lucky.”

This pas­sion saw her start the pop­u­lar Meat Free Mon­days cam­paign in South Africa eight years ago. Although many ques­tioned her on why she was spend­ing bud­get on some­thing that wasn’t di­rectly linked to her busi­ness, Tammy ex­plains that the cam­paign is more about ed­u­ca­tion and show­cas­ing what Fry’s stands for. “The Meat Free Mon­days cam­paign in­spires peo­ple to take small steps, to make a change – even if it’s just one day without meat, it’s a pos­i­tive change,” she ex­plains. “The ed­u­ca­tion process we were able to do through the Meat Free Mon­day pro­gramme was fan­tas­tic.”

The re­duc­tion in our over­all meat con­sump­tion has a pos­i­tive ef­fect not only on the en­vi­ron­ment, but also our health. Ac­cord­ing to the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, heart dis­ease is ex­tremely preva­lent in South Africa, with 225 peo­ple dy­ing daily in the coun­try from heart dis­ease. Tammy be­lieves that this has a lot to do with diet. “There are so many stud­ies, re­search, and ar­ti­cles out there that it can be con­fus­ing try­ing to de­ter­mine the health­i­est way to eat. Epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies are the sim­plest and most telling. For ex­am­ple, a sim­ple com­par­i­son be­tween Amer­i­cans and Asians show that Amer­i­cans suf­fer in­creas­ingly from heart dis­ease, can­cer, di­a­betes, and arthri­tis whereas the preva­lence of the dis­eases in Asia are far less. It makes sense that the health­ier way to eat is the way the Asians have tra­di­tion­ally eaten. This is a pre­dom­i­nantly plant based diet.“

Achiev­ing a more plant-based lifestyle isn’t dif­fi­cult, ac­cord­ing to Tammy. “Fry’s ful­fils a re­ally im­por­tant func­tion for peo­ple tran­si­tion­ing to a more plant-based diet, be­cause you don’t have to change the way you cook and the way you eat – you just have to sub­sti­tute,” she says. “We have chicken wraps, we have chicken mayo toasties, we have pep­per steak pies and we have sausage, mash, and peas for din­ner. The dif­fer­ence be­tween Fry’s and meat: no tox­ins, antibiotics, hor­mones, and choles­terol, no cru­elty, and a far lower im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. Our prod­ucts have a good source of pro­tein, fi­bre, iron, and B12. And they taste great, too. I chal­lenge any­one to try a Fry’s Nugget next to a chicken nugget. You may just be sur­prised.”

Fry’s has branched out this year with the launch of ice cream as well as a break­fast ce­real. “This year has been very ex­cit­ing for us, as it’s the first time we’ve di­ver­si­fied out­side of just meat al­ter­na­tives. We’ve launched a co­conut-based ice cream as well as Kasha, our smoothie ce­real which is high in pro­tein and com­pletely de­void of any nas­ties. We also re­cently launched a range of lunch­box snacks, in­clud­ing Roasted But­ter­nut and Quinoa Balls, Falafel Balls, and Gluten Free Rice Pro­tein and Chia Nuggets.” Th­ese prod­ucts were thought up by Tammy and her sis­ter, Hay­ley. “We are now a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion in the busi­ness and are so ex­cited about the fu­ture and pos­si­bil­i­ties for in­no­va­tion.”

Be­sides be­ing the Mar­ket­ing Di­rec­tor for Fry’s, Tammy rep­re­sented South Africa in the Snr Na­tional Karate team for 10 years. She be­lieves that be­ing a ve­gan has helped her ath­letic ca­reer and she has wit­nessed how it has helped oth­ers. “I’ve seen how many ath­letes thrive on a plant-based diet – Carl Lewis, Tia Blanco, Tim Shi­eff, and Venus Williams, to name a few. I think that we’re start­ing to see re­ally top ath­letes adopt­ing ve­g­an­ism and thriv­ing.”

When speak­ing about the fu­ture, Tammy is en­thu­si­as­tic about the ex­pan­sion of Fry’s into new prod­ucts. “The fact that ve­g­an­ism is so on trend is amaz­ing, and the ex­pan­sion and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of our prod­uct range is very ex­cit­ing.”

As Tammy says, “Small changes can make a big dif­fer­ence. Eat and live more con­sciously. Your body, Mother Earth, and the an­i­mals will thank you.” The wide range of in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful prod­ucts Fry’s pro­duces con­tin­ues to en­cour­age peo­ple to swop just a few items on their plates to make a dif­fer­ence.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.fry­fam­i­ly­ and fol­low Tammy on In­sta­gram at @eatlive­con­sciously.’.

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