Known for feeding hippies for decades, vegan chef now sets down roots in Kamloops
Govinda Clayton grew up in an American community that focused on feeding thousands of people with plants from their own garden. Now, he’s putting his attention on his new home base - Kamloops.
“I grew up on a Hare Krishna commune in West Virginia, so our whole culture was free food, free vegetarian food was the motto. We’d always be going to big gatherings, like Rainbow Gatherings, events, music festivals and Grateful Dead shows and we’d have a huge kitchen where we’d feed thousands of people, and I learned to cook in that type of kitchen… we’d be cooking in a forest with like 20,000 hippies and be one of the only kitchens.”
Clayton’s mother was a high-ranking member of the Hare Krishna community, and they travelled quite often. While in Toronto he met folks from B.C. who offered to show him around the west coast, and he met his future wife on that trip. Years later, he now lives on a commune between Ashcroft and Spences Bridge with his wife and two young children.
Clayton started his food business Govinda's Veggie Bomb in 2017 and says he was the first all-vegan vendor to serve the LA County Fair. He has brought his food truck to Shambala, Basscoast, Vancouver PNE and often does events in the states. When the pandemic began, he realized he would have to switch up his tactics.
“The only event I did in Kamloops was on a break before an event in Merritt. I did Canada Day and I was surprised because I guess I thought Kamloops was always a little bit slower on the veganism just because I’ve always had a problem finding vegan food compared to Vancouver or Kelowna,” Clayton says. “I made a false assumption that Kamloops wouldn’t be that beneficial for me to put roots down… with the success of our one-day event in Kamloops on Canada Day, we decided to have a stronger presence in Kamloops but then Covid hit and we just kind of shut down.”
The pandemic was the push Clayton needed to shift his focus.
“I’ve put the events out of my head. It wasn’t working for me. It was working financially but it wasn’t really working because it was pulling me away from my family and this is where my heart is, this area. I’m really excited to try the challenge of going to Kamloops and bringing out the vegans that are there."
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He’s taking his training and passion for healthy, vegan food to the people of Kamloops and will be at the Kamloops Farmers’ Market every Wednesday and Saturday for the rest of the season. His menu items include jackfruit ‘pulled pork’ sandwiches, vegan meatball subs, dairy-free milkshakes and more.
“I saw this year as a blessing because my dream was to be in Kamloops, to have this farm supplying all or most of the ingredients…. I wanted 80 per cent of our ingredients to come from our garden, and now this seems realistic.”
Clayton and his family are one of 25 households on his commune, and he says everyone works together on community days to plant, harvest, and tend to the gardens. Himself and a small number of others do the daily farm work, and he says he plans to use as much of the harvest as possible in his menu items. He says a focus on flavour is of the utmost importance to get people onto the plant-based diet.
“There is a lot of complaints from people who try to go into veganism,” Clayton says. “They may be like, I’m not that healthy but I don’t want to eat meat, and I want to eat this food but I also don’t want to eat just sprouts and quinoa…. People would say, the crew likes your food and they don’t care if it's vegan or not.”
You can check out Govinda's Veggie Bomb at the Kamloops Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays on the 400 block of Victoria Street from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturdays, get your fill of vegan eats on the 200 block of St. Paul Street from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
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