Meet Chef Chew: Creating Delicious Plant-Based Proteins with Purpose
Every month, we’re honored to highlight a small Black-owned business making fantastic plant-based products. This month, our ChooseVeg partner is Better Chew!
Based in Oakland, California, Better Chew offers a wide variety of plant-based proteins created by Chef GW Chew.
Vegan for 20 years, Chef Chew chose a plant-based lifestyle after several family members died prematurely from preventable disease. Since then, he’s been on a mission to create tasty and healthful plant-based proteins for all to enjoy.
From extra-crispy fried chicken to Philly shredded steak, Better Chew’s products are sure to satisfy any appetite. Want to try it yourself? Better Chew is now available online!
Besides developing mouthwatering vegan products, Chef Chew aims to create a better world through plant-based food. He graciously took the time to answer our questions and share some goals and inspirations.
What is your name, where do you live, and what is your relationship to Better Chew?
GW Chew; Vallejo, California; founder and CEO of Something Better Foods Inc.—manufacturer of the Better Chew plant-based proteins.
How did your background lead you to plant-based eating?
I was born in southern Maryland to a unique family with the last name Chew. I believe I was born with a mission and purpose to change lives for the better, one chew at a time! My immediate and extended paternal family ate a meat-heavy diet, while my maternal extended family had religious beliefs that encouraged a plant-based diet. As a result, I grew up eating a lot of meat while simultaneously observing veganism. Unfortunately, I observed several family members pass away prematurely to preventable lifestyle diseases. Learning that a lot of those same diseases have been linked to poor diet and an overconsumption of animal meat products, I decided to become vegan in 2001. Because I grew up eating meat, though, I still had a desire for it, and most of the vegan products available at the time weren’t palatable. I decided to try to better understand why I still had these cravings and discovered that people enjoy meat because of its taste, texture, and appearance. After about 15 years of literally thousands of experiments, I developed a plant-based product that provides a healthier version of this experience without sacrificing any of the flavor! These are the Better Chew plant-based proteins that we have on the market today. Our team has been able to create scalable plant-based solutions for grocery and foodservice that will also help existing brands seamlessly “veganize” their current portfolio!
What is your inspiration for bringing healthy, plant-based foods to your community?
In 2020, almost one in four households experienced food insecurity or reduced food intake due to lack of money or other resources. One factor to consider for families lacking these resources is whether or not they live in a food desert. Food deserts are characterized as areas where people live yet healthy and nutritious food is not easily geographically or economically accessible. At Something Better Foods Inc. we would like to tackle these food deserts by democratizing access to plant-based meals. Our long-term goals are to make our product available to every table in America and democratize healthy food in underserved communities who typically don’t have access to these products. We believe that by increasing awareness of food deserts, advocating for these underserved communities of color in natural and plant-based food spaces, offering nutrition education, and continuing to develop healthier, affordable food options people enjoy, we can truly change lives for the better, one chew at a time!
What is your favorite meal to cook for friends and family?
I’m a country boy at heart, so soul food is my favorite thing to cook for family and friends—good ol’ country boy cookin’ but all healthy and plant-based
What makes your products enticing to both vegans and non-vegans?
Contrary to popular belief, eating vegan products doesn’t mean that your meal has to be flavorless or just all green leafy foods. We can create delicious and satisfying meals to be enjoyed by all! Our Better Chew proteins were designed with those looking to transition to a more plant-based diet in mind. We wanted to create the experience that meat eaters love and enjoy without sacrificing flavor or texture but that vegans also feel comfortable eating and supporting, as our products are made of all sustainably sourced, plant-based ingredients.
Do you have any favorite vegan brands you wish more people knew about?
Vegan Mob in the Bay Area serves up some of the best-tasting vegan barbecue and soul food you will ever have! You gotta stop by and get a Mob Plate if you are ever in the area!
Hungry for more? Visit Better Chew’s website, and follow them on Instagram to keep up with their latest updates and innovations.