We were in a Whole Foods when we first saw Zimt Chocolates. A little box of square salted caramel macaroons glimmered in the sweets aisle. The added bonus: they were vegan! Naturally, after scarfing down our box (there was nothing graceful about it) and licking our lips, we hit up the world wide web to learn more about this Vancouver-based dairy-free chocolatier.
This health-focused sweet shop was founded by Emma Smith, who’s as delightful as those macaroons. Perhaps moreso. And she loves loves LOVES to share her passion for healthy food and healthy livin’. “Sharing healthy food is just an extension of the value I place on animals,” she says. “It’s wonderful when people can take even little steps towards living a more considerate and loving lifestyle.”
She started Zimt Chocolates 5 years ago to fill a void for raw, vegan chocolate (and to avoid having to go work for “the man!” Free will!) Her goal, other than sharing raw, vegan chocolate to the masses is rooted in heart: “I really want to take some of Zimt’s profit and put it toward creating an animal shelter/women’s shelter. Somewhere peaceful, where beings who have been through horrible stuff can go and breathe a sigh of relief,” she says.
“Another huge philanthropic avenue for Zimt is in raising awareness and providing support around eating disorders .” Emma’s passion for doing good, living well, affecting change, and eating sweet n’ healthy is so darn minty fresh we might need to nab her as the poster girl for the Minty Fresh Life. When this girl dreams, she does so audaciously.
Bottom line: “I want Zimt to be kind of like a symbol of how life can change for the better in an overwhelming and unexpected way. I feel like Zimt can create miracles.”
For the record: We feel it, too.
Emma’s own journey to healthy living has been a long and bumpy one. She’s been vegan for ten years but admits openly that she spent many of those years eating unhealthfully. “I was severely underweight, and my body really suffered,” she recalls. “Eating more healthfully was kind of a confusing process for me. I always ate healthy foods — just not enough of them. I knew deep down that I was anorexic and the way I was eating was wrong.” It took a crisis in her life for Emma to reach a turning point, assess her health, and put herself first. “It was like in the military, how they totally break you down as a human being and then build you up to be a warrior. Kind of like that.” If you ever have the good fortune to meet Emma, you’ll see: She is a warrior. But a cool. funny, deeply warm, and creative one with way better shoes.
Emma worked hard, learned to treat herself valuable, and chose to put more (and more) good food into her body to fuel her healing. Food went from being her enemy to her ally. And now she — and Zimt — are advocates for healthy relationships with food.
“People are confused about food,” she says. And in her line of work, she can see why. “I go to trade shows and see all these new products — stuff you wouldn’t recognize. No one can pronounce the ingredients. It’s made in a lab. And I ask myself ‘what is the intention behind it?’”
Food relationships are rollercoasters. Emma recommends a few simple tips to calm the storm and reestablish a good relationship with food:
1. Don’t eat animals. They’re not food. They’re animals.
2. Don’t believe the hype. If the label is confusing, if the ingredients have more than 2 syllables, if there’s a bandwagon, take pause and grab an apple instead. The best food comes from the ground. Period.
3. Chew. And chew some more. Then chew again.
4. Eat food that you like. If it tastes good to you, great. If it makes you feel good, eat it. Everyone should enjoy eating.
Emma is a great example for eating pleasurefully. She doesn’t put restrictions on her diet. She eats what she enjoys — pasta, pizza, Mediterranean foods, bananas, pancakes, waffles, muffins. “Anything with olives, capers, or hummus!” she proclaims. The girl loves bold flavors, banana soft serve in the mornings, chocolate (of course!) — and carbs (without apology!)
Emma is an audacious dreamer and an infectious philanthropist whose passion for plant-based eating is truly inspiring. “If we want a happy, sustainable future, eating plants is the way to go. Plus, who needs to eat animals when you have beans, rice, guac, and salsa?”
When we asked her how she lives the #MintyFreshLife daily, Emma nailed it (and set the bar REALLY high): “I try to mediate regularly, be outside, hug people and animals I love, drink lots of water, and stick to foods that make me feel my best, whatever they are. Animals make me so ridiculously happy, so I try to find a cat to hang out with for a bit on the regular. I love biking, Hapkido class (also includes so Brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, kick boxing, and likely other martial arts that I don’t know the names of!), and lifting weights. And walking! Nice to feel grounded. I goof off a lot. I can’t help it — I grew up with a brother who is probably from another planet — I’m grateful for this- life would be boring without the friends and family I’ve got. I love them!”
Basically, we are in a very long line to be Emma’s friend. She’s all kinds of spectacular.
When your sweet tooth is aching, we highly recommend the Coconut Crisp Bar! Shop online or find a shop that stocks Zimt here. And keep your eyes open for delightful new products in the coming year and the launch of some giveback initiatives that are truly game-changing, community-driven, and for the love of animals, plants, and people.