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Leadership Series: Paving the way to a healthy lifestyle

Juice Truck founders Zach Berman (left) and Ryan Slater (right).
Juice Truck founders Zach Berman (left) and Ryan Slater (right). Courtesy of The Juice Truck

Vancouver’s first cold-pressed juice company, the Juice Truck, has just expanded its products into some Whole Foods locations in the city and released its first cookbook filled with recipes from the store.

But growing the business is not the only objective on the co-founders’ menu.

Zach Berman and Ryan Slater have grown to be what they call “thought leaders” by inspiring plant-based diets and healthy living in Vancouver.

LISTEN: Paving the way to a healthy lifestyle
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It was after a year-long backpacking trip overseas that Berman and Slater got the idea to launch The Juice Truck.

“We kind of got into the juice cart scene in India and kind of local health remedies throughout different regions as we travelled,” said Berman.

“When we got back in 2010, we were kind of trying to figure out what we wanted to do next and we kept going back to the juice carts in India and how much we enjoyed those and how great we felt from drinking juice every morning.”

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He says when the pair launched the business the following year they didn’t expect it to be what it is today.

“We were actually the first cold-pressed juice bar in all of Canada, and it wasn’t with purpose to become the first cold-pressed juice bar in Canada, we were just looking to create the best product that we could create not knowing that cold-pressed juice was going to become a trend or market,” said Berman.

Berman and Slater started with a truck, then began offering home-delivery bottled juice. Later they dipped into wholesale and finally opened their first storefront at 5th Avenue and Ontario Street in Vancouver.

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The Juice Truck now has more than 30 retail partners, with four locations in the city and more than 60,000 social media followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

READ MORE: Leadership Series: Vancouverite inspires people one clean-up at a time

But it doesn’t stop with only serving nutritious drinks and food. Berman said he and Slater want to spread the message about living a positive and healthy lifestyle in their community.

So they started hosting “Mindful Movie Nights” at their store, charging a few dollars so people can come in and watch a documentary.

“Our favourite part was always the conversation that happened after the movie because, you know, when you get together in a group there’s so many different perspectives and points that are picked up that, you know, you might not pick up yourself,” said Berman.

He said they wanted the movie night to become a conversation starter.

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“All of the movies that we share have something to do either with plant-based living, or with protecting the environment, or being a conscious consumer, or the impact both on people and the environment through fashion,” Berman said.

“So [we] use documentaries to start conversations.”

They also team up with local athletic clubs to host fitness sessions.

“The workouts and stuff like that, for us, you know, juice and smoothies and the food we offer is just one piece of a bigger lifestyle, so we try to facilitate what we consider to be the full lifestyle of health and wellness,” said Berman.

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The duo also teams up with charities that align with the the message of their movie nights and workouts, and donate the money from the events he said.

“We just want to inspire positive change, as I mentioned, like the plant-based lifestyle is a big thing for us. We want to continue to be leaders in that field and to do so, I think, we have to inspire plant-based living in a positive inspiring manner that doesn’t alienate or exclude anybody, that’s welcoming to everybody and kind of opens the door or acts as a gateway to what we consider a healthy way of living.”

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As for what’s next, Berman said he and Slater would like to open the Juice Truck’s doors in the Tri-Cities to offer more healthy options outside Vancouver.