Food for body and soul

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Quinoa and buckwheat pancakes, sweet potato salads, acai fruit with yoghurt for breakfast and mouth watering burgers – this food really makes you want to return to SOULS, the newly opened plant-based food cafe in Copenhagen that encourages you to #eatlikeyougiveafork.

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The opening event for SOULS took place just a month ago with food tasting, a cheerful vibe in the air, and welcoming smiles from the staff which made the place memorable and left visitors with a strong desire to return. No matter that it is based in Osterbro, the neighbourhood of Copenhagen that has a reputation for being very calm and family-oriented, this small cafe pulls energetic youths from all parts of Copenhagen who cycle to SOULS to enjoy the food that does not only taste good, but is good for body and soul.

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Conscientiously picked nutritious ingredients, appealing combinations for the eyes and stomach made me eager to learn more about SOULS, its back story, and the founder, Matt’s, motivation to launch SOULS.

“Why Copenhagen, why Ostebro?”, I ask at the very start.

A choice for the location Matt would simply call a fate. He was not especially concerned or stubborn about being in a specific part of the city, but it was important that the place would have the right feeling and atmosphere. Matt sees this neighbourhood, as well as the SOULS concept as something evolving through time. He wanted a square, such as the one where the cafe is located, to become a community gathering spot in the future, filled with people and music on sunny summer evenings.

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It’s easy to assume that the main visitors to SOULS might be girls between 18-30 years old, eating healthily, following food trends on Instagram and who are currently crazy about avocado in all her meals and acai berry smoothies. There is some truth in this assumption. However, Matt and his business partner are two Australian guys, who wanted to break a stereotype about plant-based food that has to be hippie and only attractive to girls. Despite the fact that menu was created by the famous woman chef in Denmark, they truly believe this food will be more and more appealing to men. They see a healthy, plant-based food trend growing in the future because of the growing interest in a sustainability perspective, which is one of the reasons in choosing this type of menu.

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Matt, who has a business degree, did not plan to work with food, but one way or another way he ended up in the food industry. His passion for food dates back to childhood when he lived in Australia. He always helped his mother in the kitchen, who was particularly conscious about how the family ate. Moreover, in Australia food is something more than just a physical product – it is a blend of cultures, experience of tasting and experimenting. That explains the roots of his passion despite the fact that plant-based approach is a pretty recent development for him personally. Now Matt adores broccoli and linse salad, and, of course, loves what has rapidly become SOULS’ famous plant-based burger made from soya and spinach.

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In Denmark meat consumption is still pretty high and it can be quite a big challenge to change that. Changing the mindset of people is a long process, Matt admits. However, instead of doing that, he aims to create a place where people can simply try different kind of food and discover other existing alternatives. If a single person didn’t eat meat one day a week, it would already have a huge impact on the planet.

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For instance, one man the other day ate a burger and he got so astonished after he finished, because he didn’t realise that it wasn’t a traditional burger with meat. This part – surprising, challenging the mindset and taste receptors, adds a lot of charm and pleasure to run this place, says Matt. You show the world and food from a different angle, you open eyes to the new and undiscovered, for compassion and empathy.

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It has been a great journey to open this place which took a year’s preparation. It was a collaborative effort that would not have succeeded without so many people involved. It is even hard to say who came up with an idea for the slogan “eat like you give a fork”. It simply evolved with the process that was organic and rewarding in many ways. At the end of the day that was how Matt and the team wanted people to feel about food they eat at SOULS – rewarding, not only for the body but also for the soul.

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