Stan Local Biz: Visit this Vegan Pop-Up Store if you're in Siargao
Feature ⬝ Real Jhon Castillon
For the then Davao now Siargao-based Zhara, who is currently working as an assistant manager in one of the beach resorts in the island while keeping a busy schedule in being an entrepreneur, veganism is the way to go, or so to speak. Not only has it changed her dramatically, especially with her lifestyle, but has largely contributed to how she is making a name for herself in the food industry through her vegan pop-up dessert store, Munch Siargao (formerly Zhara’s Vegan Kitchen).
Launched last June 13, 2020 at MA+D Siargao Cafe in General Luna, Siargao, Munch Siargao had sold out its vegan desserts like banana bread, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies and more in just a few hours. For Zhara, this means that the future is looking bright not just for her business but hopefully for veganism.
It’s no surprise that her small business is making waves (no pun intended) in Siargao. With a store that’s guaranteed to satisfy your sweet cravings without having to make you feel guilty, Munch Siargao surely is destined for a skyrocket success. Her sold-out stint every weekend speaks volumes for this.
We’ve chatted with Zhara herself and she shared with us how she catapulted this business in the beautiful island of Siargao. You might want to visit this when you book a vacation to Siargao someday.
Hi, Zhara. How did it all start with the business? Can you tell us how it all played out?
My start up business started when I came across this Desserts Lovers Community in Siargao where you can sell and buy desserts. I really love eating any type of sweets but most of available here has eggs and dairy products so I have to make my own since I want it to be egg and dairy free. And then one day, Lei Omero owner of MA+D Coffee Siargao invited small local business owners that would want to join in 'weekends at abukay' every Saturday where they can sell some of their products or food but there were no desserts vendor yet. So I said to myself why not give it a try and share some of my creations since I already perfected some recipes. A lot of people came and they liked it! I met new vegan friends and also non-vegans who liked it since its egg and dairy free! They were asking for my contact details since they want to order more. I don't even have a name yet at that time since its just me giving it a try for a start. It's just my personal home baked vegan goodies for myself and never really was my plan to make it into a business! I just want to share my vegan snacks since it's deliciously good!
Have you always been vegetarian? If not, what provoke you to transition to such?
My awareness to veganism started back when I was in fourth year college when our professor let us watch a documentary titled Earthlings. It's about how humans exploit animals. So I began to search more about it and read a lot articles, related books, and documentary related to animal exploitation.
Then I came across Veganism. Being vegan means I don't support animal cruelty in all means, hence not eating meat, dairy products, eggs, buying natural products that are not tested on animals or no any animal by products included. Not buying leathers, furs, or anything that came from animals. It's about being compassionate towards living being, and animals are sentient beings that feel pain. So I no longer want to support the meat and dairy industry anymore. After that, I started not eating meat. Slowly transitioning to veganism is hard but through time, I learned to cook food that are simple, easy, and are very healthy since it all came from plants!
Ever since you became vegetarian, what are the drastic changes?
Ever since I started being aware about animal exploitation, I also came across information about the health risk of eating meat. The drastic major changes that I can feel within myself is that I feel lighter, I lost some weight drastically since I'm eating plant-based food so I have fast metabolism now unlike eating heavy meat before that let me feel groggy and heavy. I also felt happier because I know that I'm not putting any dead animal's flesh inside my body.
How do people order and when is your store hours?
I only open for a physical pop-up store every Saturday. Then twice a week I'll take pre-orders online depending on the availability of the ingredients since there's not much here on the island because the products and goods are shipped here from the mainland.
Can you share with us what’s on the menu? What’s your best seller?
I only sell Vegan Banana Breads and varieties of cookies such as peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, brownies, and maybe soon I'll be adding cinnamon bread! My best seller is my vegan banana bread. I love hearing people say "this is egg and dairy free?!" Just proves that you can enjoy pastries without relying from animal products.
For orders, you can message Munch Siargao on Instagram (@munchsiargao). Visit her pop-up store every Saturday at MA+D Siargao Cafe in General Luna.