Over the past few years, the number of people following plant-based, vegeterian or even flexitarian diets has increased dramatically. In fact, our 2020 Megatrends Report
highlighted that 66% of respondents had decreased their meat consumption in the past year. With this shift, there's been an explosion of plant-based cafés, lunch options and even vegan choices in major chains. But one area in which plant-based options are still lagging behind is healthy
This was a problem that Sidd Bhat, founder of Bema Eats, experienced personally - but it was one he felt he could do something about. Here, he talks to us about his business journey so far, and why his biggest challenge was not the one that he expected.
What is Bema’s mission?
Bema is on a mission to improve the health of Londoners by making it easier to eat healthy food regularly, by offering nutritious, cooked plant-based food and health drinks in a takeaway format all across Central London.
How did Bema come about?
Bema started from my struggle to get quality, cooked, plant-based meals across London in a takeaway format. In my previous life as a salesperson, I spent a lot of time travelling across Central London daily and the lack of nutritious, tasty plant-based and on the go lunch options was a big challenge. Most of the offerings would either be high in carbs or not have sufficient protein or just be a cold salad/ sandwich/ wrap.
After toying with the idea for years, me along with an equally fuelled team decided to come up with an offering that could address the needs of Londoners looking to eat more plants, want nutritional dense meals with sufficient protein, ideally something warm without compromising on taste, but on-the-go.
What’s been the response you’ve had so far? Has there been a moment where you knew your business had the power to make a difference?
Since the start of this year, we've had a steady flow of regular customers coming back to our first outlet in Spitalfields. Most of our loyal customers come back due to the unique taste and balanced macros of our signature bema bowls, which is how we want to build our brand following. The fact that all the ingredients are 100% plant-based and free from gluten or any additives is an additional benefit.
The overwhelming positive response has motivated us to move quickly and we are excited to open another take away outlet in Canary Wharf later this year.
What has been the greatest challenge to your business so far?
As part of promoting convenience to our customers, we created an online ordering system on our website/ iOS app by which our customers can pre-order online and select the date/time they would like to pick-up their bowl from our takeaway outlet. Customers can pre-order up to a week in advance.
However, we noticed that majority of our sales are still from walk-ins even with our regular customers. Getting customers into the habit of ordering in advance so that they don’t need to queue has proven to be a much bigger challenge than we anticipated, especially when we are helping them save time.
Do you think wellness has become a way of life for your consumers?
Absolutely. Most of our customers recognise the importance of eating well in order to fuel their body through the day. A diet of unprocessed, balanced, wholesome nutrition is what most of our clients seek in order to push themselves physically and mentally on a daily basis.
On a personal level, what is your mantra in life?
I seek joyous growth every day in life for myself and everyone in my sphere of influence. Growth comes from learning and one can learn from any person or situation. In order to be open to learning every day, I ensure I am well connected with myself.
What advice would you share with anyone wanting to launch a new business?
Launching a new business takes a lot of courage as a lot of your assumptions on how things should pan out will most likely not come true. The ability to quickly adapt to your situation is critical for your business to get past the initial challenges. Moreover, having an incredible team to support you from the start is equally important. A core team that believes in the mission of your business and will work tirelessly to get the business off the ground is essential.
What are you most excited to discover at this year's Balance Festival?
I’m always keen to check out all the new workouts offered by the various gyms. Most of them showcase their best and latest workouts at Balance Festival so it’s always a treat to try so many different routines in one place.
What do you think is the next big thing in the world of wellness?
I’m super excited about the advent of personalised wellness tools that can enable customers customise their lifestyle based on their individual needs. For instance, using technologies such as epigenetics to understand specific stress markers in your genetic code or personalised gut bacteria analysis, will give us greater understanding of how our body reacts to our lifestyle choices. Armed with all of this information, we should be able to make more informed personal choices on our diet, physical and mental activity.