2019 will soon be upon us, and 2018 has been a year that I’ll never forget. About a year and a half ago — which at the time was just a year and a half after our founding — we made the most pivotal decision in the history of our company. We said goodbye to meat. It felt like a radical decision at the time, so I wrote a letter to everyone involved in Simple Feast, those who put their lives and souls into the company every day, and all of you who buy our food or use the recipes on our food app.
We sent out our “Goodbye to Meat” letter by email in October 2017 and posted it on our website at year’s end. It explained that we simply knew too much about climate challenges to not take action. We could no longer include meat in our foods. We put everything on the line. I was afraid. Afraid of our ability to succeed as a business and worried about customer response to our decision as well as to our meat-free food. Meanwhile, questions abounded: Can an individual make any impact in the big picture? Can we as a company even make a difference? Can we raise the bar for plant-based food? Can it be raised so that people who eat a lot of meat would choose to eat plant-based meals at least three times a week?
A sentence from the 1985 song “We Are the World” still gave us hope: “We can’t go on pretending day by day that someone, somewhere, will soon make a change.” These words were sung by Kenny Rogers and James Ingram, but they were penned by the hand — and from the heart — of Michael Jackson in response to one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of the 1980s.
2018 was the year that erased any doubts we may have had. We still have a lot to learn, and we can still improve, but we are deeply grateful to all of you for the reception you have given us. To be quite honest, we remain amazed and elated by your support. More days than not, we sell out of every meal we can make. We’ve been battling to keep up with demand without compromising on quality. Our customers make us extremely proud every day, and you give us hope for the future. Together we have eaten our way to a carbon emissions reduction equivalent to 2,679 flights from Copenhagen to Barcelona, and water savings corresponding to 2,657,314 eight-minute showers. Outstanding!
You encourage us and strengthen the feeling that we’re just getting started. Together we truly can make a difference.
“Wow!” was the word I said the most in early to mid-2018, but then came the climate summit in Katowice, Poland. The U.N. report in October soberly informed us that we have 12 years left to radically reduce our carbon emissions to prevent temperature increases of more than 1.5 degrees. The figures showed that after the progress made in 2016 and 2017, 2018 saw an increase of 2.7%. Ugh... 2018 was also a year of sweeping declarations and grand promises prior to the introduction of the 2019 Danish state budget, but when the rubber met the road, our politicians shamefully failed. Instead of environmental efforts for a more climate-friendly future, they dedicated more money to a deportation center for 100 rejected and criminal asylum seekers. It’s so absurd that I was at a loss for words.
Fortunately, I turned again to music and the words of Leonard Cohen’s 1988 song “Everybody Knows”: “Everybody knows that the boat is leaking. Everybody knows that the captain lied... And everybody knows that the plague is coming. Everybody knows that it’s moving fast. Everybody knows that the naked man and woman are just a shining artifact of the past.”
At a time when we really could use the helping hand of our political elite to establish a framework making it easier to do the right thing, once again it became crystal clear that it’s up to you and me. I found myself wrestling with sleepless nights. The challenges seemed too daunting. Then came a 15-year-old Swedish climate warrior, Greta Thunberg. She took the podium at the COP24 conference in Poland. In a meeting with the secretary-general of the United Nations, she proclaimed, “We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses, and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.”
Wow! Greta Thunberg has become the symbol of the battle taking shape in Generation Alpha. She gives us the hope and energy to keep fighting. And so do you, our customers. You are our North Star. We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: “There comes a time in every generation where we have to take action. That time is now.”
Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie were right. We can change the world, you and I. We only have one life and one world. This is our battle, our time, our contribution. Let’s do our best, together.
Thank you for an absolutely wonderful 2018. We look forward to 2019. We will do everything in our power to be deserving of a place by your side and in your homes in the new year.
On behalf of the Simple Feast team, thank you. Truly and sincerely. You have our deepest gratitude.
Co-founder and CEO, Simple Feast