Founding a Plant-Based Food Business

May 23, 2021
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Finding Inspiration in a Flexitarian Lifestyle

She may be third generation in the gourmet food business, but Helene Raudaschl — the founder of plant-based food company Arlene — only recently adopted a flexitarian lifestyle. In fact, it wasn’t even a lifestyle change she pursued on her own. Helene’s son Max introduced her to the idea of conscientious eating, which sparked her desire to develop a line of globally inspired plant-based cuisine that promotes healthier eating and living. 

Building a Business

Sure, flexitarianism sounds like another trending diet anyone can jump in and capitalize on, but that’s quite the opposite when it comes to Arlene. Helene’s background in the food industry goes back to when her family worked with the first company to import gourmet foods like truffles and caviar to Hong Kong, so her focus with Arlene is very much on providing quality at all levels of the experience. “We need to stand out from the crowd,” Helene notes. “Quality is our priority and it comes at an affordable price.” 

In order to bring Arlene to life, Helene tapped the culinary expertise of chefs Arnaud Thulliez (Ritz-Carlton Singapore), Kamal El Sayed (Monarch Hotel Dubai), and Zhang Xiang (Shangri La Abu Dhabi) to transform traditionally meat-centric dishes into enjoyable plant-based alternatives. The team tested multiple vegetarian and vegan foods already on the market, but found the stunning images on the boxes didn’t represent the end product — a perception Helene sought to change. “You think that if you eat microwaved food it’s definitely a compromise, but we wanted people to know you can still eat very well with plant-based foods, even when it’s a ready meal,” she says. Today, Arlene’s dishes stand out above the rest in flavor, ingredients, and looks. 

A Food Lover’s Plant-Based Lifestyle

“Taking care of yourself and your health is my first and foremost message in the food business,”

Helene, like many people, was used to a diet where meat was the star of the show and your vegetables were supporting actors. “If you asked me 10 years ago if I would have a vegetarian meal, my answer would be ‘no,’” she says. It was only in 2020 that she gave the different diet a chance. Her son Max, who is a basketball player in his early 20s, had been eating a vegan diet and recently made the change to flexitarian to help in his athletic training, which piqued her curiosity “He introduced me to trying this lifestyle because of his sports, and I wanted to try and see what he’s into and see what he’s really talking about,” explains Helene. 

According to Helene, flexitarian lifestyle is about making a conscious effort to improve health and your environment. “Taking care of yourself and your health is my first and foremost message in the food business,” she says, adding that environmental sustainability plays a key factor in what we see from Arlene. “I’m always championing farmers with sustainable and sound and morally correct systems because I want people to eat better. I want to be able to have a product that people enjoy eating.”

Arlene’s products make it easy for anyone who wants to try the flexitarian path, but might struggle with finding variety or satisfaction with plant-based meals. “People feel that eating vegetarian or vegan food is a compromise to satisfaction, and I wanted to change that” Helene says. 

Share the Health

Now, with a line of 18 diverse, global offerings, Arlene is setting the table for people to seamlessly transition into a flexitarian lifestyle without compromising their preferred cuisines. The way Arlene’s menu is laid out makes it easy for people to share a plant-based meal with friends and family who might not otherwise give it a try. “People are receptive to changing what they eat,” says Helene. “Today, I totally enjoy this lifestyle and embrace being a flexitarian.” 

If you want to introduce people to the flexitarian lifestyle, she suggests putting together a meal that showcases the diversity of Arlene’s offerings. “We have our gyozas, kibbeh, and our spring rolls. These are like small appetizer or tapas dishes that you can share around at a house gathering,” For a more substantial main course, Helene points to dishes like the kebabs that can be made into wraps or served as a topping over grain bowls. “We can bring different themes to it, so say you want to do an Arabic theme, you can do the kebabs, falafels, and also serve with some yogurt dips and biryani rice.” 

The Arlene menu brings plant-based foods into people’s homes with familiar dishes that make the flexitarian lifestyle an adventure in global cuisine.