Julia Roach in her industrial kitchen where she prepares Original Meat’s food products.
That’s why Julia Roach founded Original Meat, a plant-based food company. Original Meat’s name is pulled from Genesis 1:29, which reads, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed… and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat.”
Roach explains that in this verse, the Lord is saying that the food to be eaten is all plant based—the original food, the original meat, given to humanity was plant based. “I want people to get back to the original food that God intended for us,” she says. She plans on using her company to show people that plant-based food can be just as tasty as its counterpart.
Roach’s interest in healthy eating can be traced back to her childhood. She grew up in a traditional family, and dinner was always eaten with her parents and siblings. “We talked, we laughed, we had a good time,” she said, “this cultivated a sense of enjoying food with people.” Not only was mealtime itself a special memory, but Roach has fond memories of working with her father and grandmother in the kitchen.
Her father taught her to cook, and she picked up tips from her grandmother who was known for her amazing food. Between the two of them, Roach learned a lot about natural, healthy cooking. Her grandmother often altered recipes by adding or swapping ingredients and that taught Roach to cook “by taste and feel” rather than by following a recipe religiously. She credits her grandmother with teaching her to cook creatively.
It wasn’t until her teenage years that Roach became a vegetarian. Her grandmother took her overseas, and Roach says, “The way I saw meat, just out in the open, it was disgusting.” That experience pushed her to become vegetarian and, when she came back, her parents supported her decision.
Several years later, Roach felt the Lord impressing her that she should become entirely plant-based. She approached her husband with her conviction and, interestingly enough, he had arrived at the same conclusion, entirely independent of her. “It was a transition,” Roach says, “but we are happy in the plant-based world.”
Roach further explains that throughout her own personal journey, she has shared what she has learned with others. “I enjoy teaching others what I’ve learned,” she says, “I get excited when people want to talk to me about food.” It is because of this excitement for food that friends began encouraging her to start a food business.
Roach prayed about it and felt impressed that the Lord wanted her to do it. “I just didn’t want this business to be about me,” she says, “I don’t want to become rich or famous—I don’t want that aspect in my life.” Roach wants to use her business as a ministry, to reach people in an interactive atmosphere. Her husband is interested in pursuing evangelism, and envisions them someday working together, bringing together the gospel message and the health message to productively reach souls.
Roach began to build her business in 2018 but when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, she stepped back to support her mother. After a grueling few years, her mother was declared cancer-free, and Roach asked herself, “Are you going to do something with this business or not?”
In early spring 2022, Roach obtained her food license and began legally selling food. She sold through her website, at local farmer’s markets, and at food shows, such as the Detroit Vegan food show.
The food show was at first a struggle for Roach. When she found out about it, she was hesitant to apply. Her husband told her to pray about it, and said, “If it isn’t God’s will, ask Him to block the application.” So, Roach applied, and her application was accepted. “When I found out,” she said, “I called my husband and said, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” Her husband responded that God had allowed her to be accepted, so His blessing was upon it.
The food show projected 3,000 attendees, and it was a blessing for her and her family, her greatest assistants. They sold out of their sandwiches and Roach found herself doing impromptu Bible studies with attendees. “I love explaining to people that eating this way can taste good and help them feel better,” says Roach.
Roach plans to do more food shows and has already booked The Michiana Veg Fest in June 2023. “I am hopeful, optimistic, and prayerful about what the long-term trajectory for [Original Meat] looks like,” she says. “I don’t want to constrain the Lord in His plans the way I have done in the past.” Roach is prayerfully listening to the Lord’s guidance as He takes her and Original Meat on a witnessing journey.
Judy Ringstaff serves as administrative Communication assistant for Michigan Conference.