Starting a Food Revolution with Billy Collins
Last week, Leeds University Union played host to an innovative event: Leeds Creatives. The events saw creative people from in and around Leeds come to give speeches about the great work they’re doing to improve the city. One of those people was Billy Collins, proprietor of Honest Edibles, a vegan food business that provides people with healthy, sustainable and ethical food.
After his speech, Billy sat down for an interview with The Gryphon. Before talking to Billy, you already get such a friendly feel from him; you know that this is a man who’s doing the right thing. After talking to Billy, you want to drop everything and go out and make a change, to go and join the ‘food revolution’ as he puts it. Billy has had a close relationship with food for years, having been a head chef at a couple of establishments. He decided to go to University to learn more about the environment. During this time, he established a company called Good for Belly, which then evolved into Honest Edibles around a year ago. Billy’s reason for establishing his business here was to fill a niche and provide people with sustainable, ethical nourishment.
This isn’t merely a business venture, however. Billy wants to supply products that ultimately change the way we look at food as a whole. He told us ‘I’m all about trying to start a bit of a food revolution; a deeper connection to ourselves, a deeper connection to the environment, and definitely a deeper connection to each other’. This isn’t such an outlandish aim; there has been a 1500% increase in veganism over the last 12 months, as Billy told us. It’s clear to see that people are beginning to feel this deeper connection with the environment and with each other. As Billy rightfully put it, ‘The world’s fucked!’ It’s our job to un-fuck it and the best way to do so is through our diet and the way in which we treat the environment. People are becoming aware of the detrimental effect that an unhealthy diet can have on not only themselves, but the environment too, and a counterculture is establishing itself with the aim of fighting the harm that is being done to the environment. The food revolution has begun.
Eating can be a very political and revolutionary act, says Billy. He believes that buying into the wrong foods is buying into the wrong ideologies and philosophies which are in turn harmful to us, the environment, and those around us. He believes that we have the power and the resources to put towards the correct ideologies. He states ‘The obligation is very much on us, to realise that we’re in power’. This realisation has already begun to happen, with the numbers of veganism rising exponentially like Billy says, but there’s still a long way to go. Getting people to think about what they’re putting into their bodies is imperative to Billy. ‘Food can be either the slowest form of poison or the best form of medicine’ he says.
There is an issue with genetically modified foods, foods that include pesticides, that’s why he has made a point to create a products that are completely ethical from start to finish, with nothing harmful or unsustainable. Even the packaging is biodegradable and compostable.
Billy’s isn’t done yet. When asked about his plans for the future, he told us that he’s got big ambitions to create real change in our relationship with food; he’s not where he wants to be, but he’s getting there. He appeared at the Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival on the 28th, and he’s appearing at various street markets around the city, putting his fingers in a lot of vegan pies as he put it. He plans to start off by getting a café. He talks of writing his own book. He also has his eyes set on education, stating that it is as paramount to making food as being in the kitchen.
For Billy, business is a philosophy first and foremost. He believes that when people realise that your philosophy’s pure, they will buy into it; and he’s living proof of that.
You can catch Billy outside of the Union at the farmers’ market every Monday. Make sure to visit the Honest Edibles Facebook page to keep up with the company.
(Image: Charlie Green)