Original Meat: A Ministry-Business’s Journey

How an Adventist cook is using her food company as a witnessing opportunity.

Judy Ringstaff, for Lake Union Herald
<strong>Original Meat: A Ministry-Business’s Journey</strong>
Julia Roach in her industrial kitchen, where she prepares Original Meat’s food products. [Photo: Lake Union Herald]

Julia Roach founded Original Meat, a plant-based food company, because, she says, one of the hardest parts of eating healthfully is finding healthy food that tastes good, looks good, and is as good for you as promised.

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” (KJV).

Julia 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.

Julia’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 says. “This cultivated a sense of enjoying food with people.” Not only was mealtime itself a special memory, but Julia 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, Julia learned a lot about natural, healthy cooking. Her grandmother often altered recipes by adding or swapping ingredients, and that taught Julia 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 Julia became a vegetarian. Her grandmother took her overseas, and Julia says, “The way I saw meat, just out in the open, it was disgusting.” That experience pushed her to become a vegetarian and, when she came back, her parents supported her decision.

Several years later, Julia felt impressed to make her diet 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,” Julia says, “but we are happy in the plant-based world.”

She further explains that throughout her personal journey, she has shared what she learned with others. “I enjoy teaching others,” 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.

Julia 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.” Julia 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.

Julia 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 Julia asked herself, “Are you going to do something with this business or not?”

In early spring 2022, Julia 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 Julia. 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, Julia applied, and her application was accepted. “When I found out,” she says, “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 Julia found herself giving impromptu Bible studies with attendees. “I love explaining to people that eating this way can taste good and help them feel better,” she says.

Julia 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.” Julia is prayerfully listening to the Lord’s guidance as He takes her and Original Meat on a witnessing journey.

The original version of this story was posted on Lake Union Herald.

Judy Ringstaff, for Lake Union Herald