The Happy Pear twins discuss healthy eating, good habits and trying new things
David and Stephen Flynn from the Happy Pear have become the poster boys for vegan cooking and healthy living in Ireland. With their third book coming out and a new café in Clondalkin, their business continues to go from strength to strength.
The pair are currently promoting the new ‘All things considered, it’s SuperValu” campaign. It’s design to show why, all things considered, it's the only place you need to go for great value, great products, healthy options and affordable prices. SuperValu is asking the public to ‘Consider Something New,’ this week and every week for six weeks.
It might be eating more fruit and veg or it might be trying to buy more Irish products in your weekly shop. We asked the Flynn twins about trying new things, making lifestyle changes and what the campaign means to them.
How did you get involved in the new SuperValu campaign?
We’ve been working with SuperValu for a couple of years now and when we heard about the new ‘All things considered’ campaign we couldn’t wait to get involved. We share many of SuperValu’s values around supporting communities, and getting people to be more conscious of consuming more fruit and veg. Eight out of 10 Irish people don’t eat enough of them and that’s a big one for us. For this campaign, we’re inspiring people to challenge themselves to eat more fruit and veg, maybe even turn vegetarian for a week!
What was the last major change you made to your own life?
Changing our diets from eating a traditional meat and two veg diet many years ago, we found, has had a huge impact on our health and also reminded us about the food choices we made and how they support different systems. That’s the main reason we’re getting behind SuperValu’s #AllThingsConsidered campaign - encouraging people to try to eat more veg for a week and maybe even to go veggie for a week.
We’ve even challenged Bressie to go veggie for a week and he’s up for it! It's not about making anyone a vegetarian but simply to try to get everyone to eat more veg and make people aware of the huge range and superb value SuperValu offers – the Weekly SuperValu 7’s offers are the perfect opportunity to stock up with a variety of fruit and veg for 49c and 79c, we’d be crazy not to get in on that.
How important do you think it is to keep trying new things?
As the expression goes in business “evolve or die”. We think ultimately, one of the most important things as humans we can do is to become better versions of ourselves. By trying new things it keeps us flexible, keeps us growing and helps us to become more self-aware. One thing we are guaranteed in life is change and, as a result, it's of paramount importance to be able to roll with knocks and bumps that life throws at us. Something we often remind ourselves is Darwin’s famous saying that it is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. That is why trying new things is so important.
Were you always into healthy eating or was there a moment that you consciously made a change?
Not at all! We grew up eating a standard meat and two veg, Irish diet. It was only when we had finished studying in college and were away travelling when we actually focused on what we were eating. It was the first time we had to cook for ourselves so we started to experiment with a veggie and vegan diet and we haven’t looked back since. People may think it’s difficult to eat only vegetables but we’ve got loads and loads of recipes, traditional dishes loved by all, that only use vegetables and they’re just as delicious, if not better! Check out our sweet potato and broccoli creamy casserole – it’s the perfect mid-week dinner and full of nutrients.
The cost of this casserole is €6.20 ( excluding the store cupboard ingredients)
Do you think healthy eating is becoming easier these days?
A lot easier, there are so many new options and the food choices are so much better than they were five or even 10 years ago. SuperValu are really paving (and leading!) the way here in terms of supermarkets with their healthy food aisles and their focus on making it easier for people to make better food choices. They’ve recently introduced a dedicated vegan section which makes shopping much easier for vegans/vegetarians – and for those evenings when we don’t have time to cook the ready meals, including our own, are absolutely delicious.
What do you think the average person sees as the biggest obstacle to healthy eating?
Time and cost. That why we’ve really been focusing on showing how cheap and quick eating healthy can be. We shot a number of videos for Supervalu giving ourselves 20 euros to spend and one hour to prep enough food for one person for the full week – it’s totally achievable and much easier than people think. And from a cost perspective, the weekly fruit and veg offers SuperValu have on their Weekly SuperValu 7’s is not to be missed.
Another important factor to making a sustainable lifestyle change is support - trying to get the support of those around you. It’s often said that we become the sum of the five people we spend most time with. The more you can get your family or friends to get on board with your healthier habits, the more likely you are to sustain them and you might even get them to join you!
What advice would you have for people looking to eat healthier food but unsure of where to start?
Start with small, simple lifestyle changes and start at a time when its easiest for you. Building momentum is key. Start on what’s easiest for you so whether that means aiming to get 10,000 steps in per day or eating porridge or homemade granola for brekkie. Trying to eat brown carbohydrates – rice, pasta, bread and pittas instead of white carbs. Swapping out those biscuits or cereal bars for a banana, a handful of berries or some fresh melon will help you increase your daily fruit intake. And, check out some of our recipes on the SuperValu website and you’ll find yourself swapping out those regular, go-to meat dinners for an equally delicious veggie option.
What ultimately is sustainable is feeling good and having more energy and we think starting with what is easiest for you is key.
If you were to recommend people make one change to their habits, what would it be?
Do more of what makes you happier and brings you back to the present moment! Many people can get confused and think health is all about eating kale and doing yoga but health is a combination of many factors. Stress is quickly becoming one of the leading causes of disease so anything that helps you relax, get back to the moment and brings you more joy is good for your health. Simple things like going to a movie, spending time with friends, cooking up a meal with family and friends and laughing are all so good for our health.
How do you think food culture has changed in Ireland in recent years?
With the rise of social media food culture has absolutely been transformed! When we first started The Happy Pear as a fruit and veg shop over 14 years ago people used to buy 10kg bags of potatoes, swede, cabbage and turnips. These were the most popular veg and on Saturdays we’d sell lots of peppers and asparagus to the people who worked all week.
Nowadays, food is becoming a melting pot of cultures, it’s wonderful to see so much fusion and so much more plant based foods and healthier choices have become much more readily available. Dishes inspired by Thai, Asian, Middle Eastern cuisines are huge now and are becoming ever more popular – it’s great to mix things up now and again, discovering new and different vegetables and being able to buy them in your local SuperValu. We’re delighted at how things have evolved.
How important is it to support Irish producers?
We think it is so important. It’s important for supporting Irish jobs, for keeping money in our economy and for our food culture. The more local produce we eat, the less food miles we’re clocking up and the fresher and healthier our food will be. SuperValu are the leading supermarket in terms of supporting local and Irish food producers with over 1,800 producers on the shelves nationwide. As a retailer they really prioritise local, fresh and seasonal produce.
What changes can people expect to see from the Happy Pear in the coming years?
We want to get further into farming and more specifically to start a community farm, that will serve as an education centre where people can come and stay, that is based on organic and biodynamic principles and is focused on providing local organic produce for the community. We will use a lot of the produce in our products that will be available across Ireland with SuperValu. We also have loads of other plans and visions that will materialise in due course!
SuperValu are asking the nation to ‘Consider Something New’ - something that’s always been on their to-do list, but they haven’t got around to doing yet. It could be buying only own brand products in your weekly shop to save money, healthy food swaps, or setting up an online shopping account to save time for the moments that matter.
All things considered, its SuperValu. For more information on SuperValu’s #Allthingsconsidered challenge visit their website.