From making everything from scratch and reducing waste to cooking with local and sustainable ingredients: O Botanista only serves plant-based food that benefits the planet. At their home base in Lisbon, vegan chef and founder Catarina Gonçalves told us all about her mission and vision.
When Catarina was pregnant with her first child, she started to become more conscious of her diet. “I wanted to find out where the ingredients on my table were coming from”, Catarina explains. “And I didn’t like what I discovered. Meat, fish, milk: more often than not, these products have a negative impact on the wellbeing of people, animals and the planet.”
From home-cook to vegan chef
After successfully adopting and maintaining a vegan lifestyle herself, Catarina wanted to share her enthusiasm. To show people that plant-based food can be extremely tasty and nourishing, she opened two vegan restaurants: Ao 26 and O Botanista.
“We’re always creating new recipes. It’s the only way to entice more people to adopt a plant-based diet!”
Next level vegan food
“With Ao 26, I wanted to demonstrate that you can also enjoy things like a burger or a croque-monsieur when you eat vegan”, Catarina says. “But with O Botanista I decided to take it bit further. I asked myself: if all restaurants in Lisbon would be vegan, what would I do? What would be the next step?”
From beetroot ravioli and pad thai to homemade taglierini and lentil wraps: every single dish on the menu at O Botanista is made from ingredients that are good for the planet. “To make sure we know exactly how everything is produced, we don’t use anything that’s processed”, Catarina explains. “In addition, we try to minimise our waste wherever we can and work with ingredients that have a low overall impact on the environment.”
“If more people would eat vegan, we would quickly see a difference, both externally and internally.”
Changing the world, one bite at a time
According to Catarina, eating vegan food is one of the most powerful things you can do, both for your own health and for the wellbeing of the planet. Therefore, every single time she sees someone thoroughly enjoy a plant-based meal, it fills her with hope and excitement for the future. Catarina: “Knowing that we may have slightly altered the food habits that someone had up until that moment, is what keeps me going every single day.”
Ready for a vegan challenge? Take the pledge and only eat plant-based breakfasts in September!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out the story of rebellious supermarket HISBE!
Source food photos: O Botanista