Photo Credit: Andsz Kolosovskis from @akphotoco
Alyx-Jane, owner of the plant-based cafe The Yoga Place Cafe, believes the individual little steps we make can create big, collective change. With a passion for sustainability and kindness, Lake Macquarie local business owner Alyx-Jane shares her gentle approach to looking after ourselves, our health and our planet.
Kindness is a Virtue of The Yoga Place Cafe
Nestled off the Pacific Highway on a corner block, The Yoga Place Cafe hides behind a low hedge and picket fence. The open gate invites you to find a seat undercover or on the grass. BYO rug welcome for a picnic-style cafe on the grass.
Immersed in natural light and fresh air, the relaxing, calm vibes are part of a small, hidden sanctuary in the suburb of Blacksmiths that’s “not like anything else around here”, says Alyx-Jane. Customers take their coffee and meal slowly, keen to linger longer.
The Virtue of Kindness
Being friendly, generous, and considerate is the foundation of the cafe. Alyx-Jane exudes gentleness and kindness herself, so it’s easy to see how her values reflect in the cafe.
“We’re really passionate about everyone coming in and feeling better when they leave, whether it’s because of the food or because of the conversations they’re having with us”, says the cafe owner.
Photo Credit: Andsz Kolosovskis from @akphotoco
The value of kindness is multi-tiered. As a plant-based cafe, kindness is via the food we eat, which is also being kind to our body. The other level of kindness is people kindness.
A welcoming smile, excellent customer service and simple conversations with customers help to inspire genuine people kindness.
The cafe’s team takes time to build a positive and genuine connection with their customers and each other as a team.
This connection results from how Alyx-Jane nurtures her staff, looking after them, who’ll then happily look after the cafe and the community.
Plant Based Diet Cafe
The Yoga Place Cafe is a fab introduction for people who might be considering a lower impact diet and want to include more plant based meals across the week. Whether that means going vegan or being more mindful about diet, the cafe menu choice is a springboard for change.
The most popular menu items are the nachos, the big breakfast (with a light tofu scramble) and the buckwheat pancakes. Customers feel satisfied, nourished, energised, and naturally want to bring friends back to share their local cafe’s ideals.
The final step to becoming a fully plant based cafe happened when they switched out dairy with plant based alternatives.
With a simple swap-this-for-that explanation, dairy milk lovers continue to enjoy their coffee with the creamy, mellow barista oat milk.
Many customers comment how they can’t taste the difference and now drink oat milk at home. Alyx-Jane likes how her customers are making informed choices for a lower impact diet.
“Sustainability isn’t about being perfect”
“Sustainability isn’t about being perfect”, says Alyx-Jane, who made at least a five-year journey from an omnivorous to a vegan diet. Alyx-Jane continues enjoying her plant-based diet. “I think there can be a bit of a stigma around veganism….like it can feel like you’re all in or you’re not”.
The local cafe owner’s approach helps to make everyone feel comfortable about their choices.
The Cafe’s Retail and Supply Network
Having food and service that aligns with the cafe’s values is just as important to Alyx-Jane as people’s experience.
All fruit and vegetables are Australian grown, the pantry products are purchased in bulk to reduce packaging and transportation, and the coffee roasted in Newcastle.
Taking one step at a time, Alyx-Jane is looking towards a more localised and ethical supply chain.
Retail Supporting Local
A small retail section is the dedicated space to showcase local artists and handcrafters in the area who align with the cafe’s values and support sustainability.
- Artist Kimberley Brown painted the front-counter mural;
- Sauerkraut from The Wholefood Family,
- Juices from The Healthy Cocktail, and
- Soaps from Honeybee House Skin Co.
Alyx-Jane also collaborates with like-minded businesses – to keep the economy as localised as we can – who borrow the space for small events such as the Creating Art from Marine Debris workshop or a pop-up shop with Honey Tree Vintage.
If people have only one meal with the cafe and return to their regular diet at home, Alyx-Jane knows that it’s one meal that’s created less of an impact. She believes in the little things we do – “when we are all just doing a little bit, it really makes a whole lot of difference in the end”.
“If we’re only opening to people who think exactly how we think, then there’s no room for anyone else to start leaning towards sustainability a bit more, and we’re closing our doors. It’s about keeping the conversation open.”
The devastation and destruction of land clearing for livestock & feed crop production are incomprehensible and are among the main reasons why the cafe values sustainability and kindness.
A 2019 analysis by The Wilderness Society found that 73% of all deforestation and land clearing in Queensland, Australia, is linked to beef production.
Straight out of the 2006 report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (p275), “In the absence of major corrective measures, the environmental impact of livestock production will worsen dramatically”.
If we don’t start making changes, then there will be a higher demand for land for feed crop, increased greenhouse gas emissions, livestock-induced land degradation and a geographic concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus surplus with shifts in biodiversity.
The Yoga Place Cafe is helping to be the change.
Sustainability and kindness top the Yoga Place Cafe values.
Owning a small business where Alyx-Jane is an active part of the day-to-day operations, personal connection and understanding is significant.
The cafe is the beautiful integration of personal values, philosophy and global social and environmental concerns.
Togetherness is the link between sustainability and community. Naturally embedded in conversations with customers are the answers to common questions about living more sustainably.
It’s these conversations and “connections we’re having with customers that help create community”.
The cafe community has been growing steadily, with many people returning and sharing friendliness, conversations, and support. The cafe is “being conscious about everything we’re doing to make a minimal footprint. It’s our way of giving back to my community”, says the thoughtful planet advocate.
Alyx-Jane would like to see the cafe leave as the place where people feel accepted and welcomed doing good for the earth and ourselves.
Top Tips for Treading Lightly
Alyx-Jane’s top tips for helping you tread more lightly and sustainably:
- Be conscious – think about all the little things you do in your life. It doesn’t mean being vegan or waste-free forever. Start with one thing. If it’s about changing how you eat, that’s fine.
- Choose reusable first, such as reusable straws, bamboo toothbrush or takeaway coffee cups.
- It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing – doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
Community, sustainability and kindness are so evident in the cafe’s ambience it becomes a refreshing space to share a relaxing coffee and meal with friends.
Alyx-Jane welcomes you to The Yoga Place Cafe and encourages you to “learn ways to be more sustainable, so we’ll be able to preserve our community and therefore the earth for hopefully years and years to come”.
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Find Out More…
Related stories from French for Tuesday:
- Support other local and eco friendly Newcastle based businesses who are doing good for people and planet
- Read how creating a wonderfully strong sense of community can make a world of difference
- Discover how a sense of belonging to others can make us feel more connected
- For a couple of tried and true plant-based recipes, cook this beautifully rich Choc Beetroot Vegan – & Gluten Free – Cake and a quick and easy pear syrup jelly.
Related External Links…
The following links help you think and be more mindful about the food we eat, and how to eat for a happy planet:
- Real Food Rockstar online course with Low Tox Life: helps you feel confident in the inner dialogue you have with your bodies, and the knowledge you’ll acquire in the course to then make your own decisions, confidently.
- Low Tox Life Food: How to Shop, Cook, Swap and Eat for a Happy Planet – preorder here for a September 2021 release
- Go here for a range of plant-based meal books
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