Good food and good eating shouldn’t be about diets, deprivation or turning foods into enemies. Food is joy, and should never induce feelings of guilt and shame. We should respect each others’ choices whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore. That’s why all are welcome at The Bear Kitchen. That’s why we’re bringing the notion of ‘healthy’ back down-to-earth. Relax, and let’s unite around the pleasure of eating well.

Photo credit: The Bear Kitchen

Today’s guest blog comes from Jens Hannibal, co-founder of  The Bear Kitchen. 

My (food) journey

I was blessed to grow up in a Danish family that cooked. Every day we’d gather around the dinner table and enjoy good food together. I don’t recall anyone ever talking about diets or ‘eating healthy’. That was just something we did without being fanatic about it. At age 12 I began cooking myself and have been doing so ever since. I’m hooked on food. I love eating it and I love cooking it.

Fate brought me to London and after finishing my studies, I started O-food, a Scandinavian Food Bar aimed at making sustainable fish more accessible. As O-food was coming to a close Michael and I were introduced. Michael is The Bear Kitchen’s co-founder, and we started working together in 2016. More recently the team was joined by Simon, an experienced chef with a passion for good ingredients, making the trinity complete. The three of us share an un-wavering commitment to make positive difference for people and planet via food.

Bringing healthy down-to-earth

What does it mean to ‘eat healthy’? The relentless barrage of healthy eating information has left many people confused and social media hasn’t made it any better. Influential clean eating and wellness food bloggers offer up glorified ideals that promote a view on food that’s unattainable when you live a busy life, have a tight budget and maybe have a family to take care of. The stress that comes with trying to live up to such ideals is, in fact, supremely unhealthy.

Well, here’s the good news: you don’t need diet fads, clean eating and wellness to be healthy. I guarantee you. You don’t have to own a soul cycle, sip cold-pressed green juice, do Astanga yoga and shop at Whole Foods to be healthy either. Obsession is not the answer. So relax people. There’s a happier way to healthy.

Photo Credit: The Bear Kitchen

Eat like a bear

Our approach to ‘healthy’ is not so much about healthy itself as it is about having a healthy relationship with food. Our philosophy is simple: eat like a bear. Why bears, you might ask? Well, because our furry friend, although she has no concept of local or seasonal ingredients, eats nothing else. She munches mostly plants, and treats herself occasionally to good quality fish and meat. Oh, and she’s never heard of a factory farm.

Eat like a bear is but a gentle guideline that allows for flexibility around individual preferences. It’s a fun, friendly and memorable idea that doesn’t ask you to ditch entire food groups, and which can help break down the elitist connotations associated with eating healthy. It’s about respecting each other choices and bringing people together rather than causing divide.

Photo credit: The Bear Kitchen

To eat meat or not to eat meat

Recent years has seen the rise of the veganism and films like Cowspiracy pitch being a vegan (vegetarian) or meat eater as a binary choice. At The Bear Kitchen we believe in respecting each individual’s choice. We want to get away from the prejudice, shame and guilt that have become the unfortunate bi-products of the sharp division between various diet trends and isms. Having the freedom to choose without feeling judged is vital for a healthy and enjoyable relationship with food that doesn’t compromise the pleasure of what a good meal means to you.

That said, it’s well documented that eating less meat is good for you. It’s also good for the animals, it’s good for the planet, and it’s good for your economy. That’s why The Bear Kitchen promotes eating less but better quality meat; to use meat for flavour rather than bulk – and when we cook meat and fish are always optional extras.

Begin a better journey with food today

Everyone has the right to eat well. Health isn’t about perfection, or that you will eat perfectly. It means you are allowing for life to be imperfect. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun this way and by giving yourself a break makes it much easier to stick with eating well overall. So yeah, have that bowl of pasta, eat that dessert, and have a bunch of veggies too.

You can join us and other chilled-out food lovers at our supper club where our saucepan sorcerer, Simon, uses well-sourced ingredients to  create good, deeply satisfying and nourishing dishes.

We’ve got a great Instagram channel too sharing how I excited I get with every new twist in The Bear Kitchen’s journey and how I live out my philosophy to eat like a bear every day.