Never afraid of changing things up, she has since brought her partner, Gino Marengo onboard, rechristened the restaurant to Marit’s Eetkamer (Dining Room) and replaced the once vegetarian menu with a 100% plant-based one.
Ready to make yet another dream come true, Marit will be relocating to Portugal this year to start serving vegan dinners among her recently acquired olive trees.
1. Ten years ago, you gave up your job as a fashion designer to open a vegetarian restaurant in your living room. What prompted you to make such a drastic change in your life?
In fashion, it takes a long time before you get to see the fruits of your labour. Once you have designed and produced a collection, it takes about one and a half years before it hits the shops. By that time, the fun had always already worn off for me whereas if you cook for someone, your work is appreciated there and then and you get that feeling of satisfaction the same day.
Also, the overproduction and overconsumption in our society, and certainly in fashion, started to bother me more and more. For me, starting a vegetarian restaurant was my way to a more conscious and sustainable way of living and working.
2. What were the biggest challenges when you first began this new venture and what helped you to overcome them?
The location of the restaurant was in a residential area so I had to do my best to put Marit's Living Room Restaurant on the map and make it known. I only had a small budget for promotion and advertising, so in those early days, what helped enormously were the connections I had made during my time in fashion. They, combined with the knowledge I had gained during my former career, were helpful when I reached out to magazines and blogs. The resulting articles that were published about my restaurant were crucial to its early success.
3. A couple of years ago, you went from being a vegetarian to becoming vegan. At the same time, your restaurant made the same transition. Why was it important for you to make this change?
It is terrible how we treat animals in this day and age, especially when you consider that they, like us, experience pain, sadness and joy. I made the choice for myself to go through life as non-violently as possible. Eating animals has not felt right for a long time, but when the information about the ins and outs of the egg and dairy industry reached me, I had to act accordingly and that action is now comfortably in line with my feelings. With Marit’s, I wanted to show that a food chain without animals is not only possible but can also be very tasty. Besides striving to create a positive and loving society, the climate and the planet are also very important to us. Plant-based food is not only better for animals, but also for Mother Earth and that is a nice side effect. With our cooking style, we hope to inspire others and thus contribute to a more (animal) friendly world. After all, the earth belongs to all of us!
4. This year, you are embarking on yet another new adventure. You seem pretty fearless when it comes to making drastic changes in your life. Is that so or have you just found good ways of ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’?
A bit of both. I think indeed that I am not very fearful, I mainly see possibilities and opportunities, not pitfalls and failures. Besides, I have learned that fear is a bad advisor, so when fear rears its head, I try not to listen to it.
5. What advice would you give to women who are thinking about starting a completely new chapter later in life?
It relates to my previous answer: Don’t be afraid! Replace the fear of failure with a belief in your abilities. You are unique, so be yourself. Do your own thing and make sure you do it with pleasure and love. Because if you do, it comes across to others and will be appreciated.
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Hi, I'm Chantal Valerie. I'm a writer and self-taught illustrator. I am inspired by late bloomers and creative self-starters (I only started drawing at the age of 34) and since I believe they deserve more visibility, I started my blog series ‘5 Questions for …’.