Becoming vegan brings many big changes to our lives. It is not just a diet choice, but saying no to any form of use and exploitation of non-human animals. You rethink actions and values and begin seeing the world in a different way. Many vegans I know make their lives a daily way to fight and be the voice of non-human and human animals. Some will become activists, other will become writers or speakers, others will combine their values and choices to create their own business. Mōksa Organics is one beautiful example.
Based in Florida, this family business is doing it right. Melanie Martin and her husband, together with their two kids, are one big inspiration, as business people, as a family, as vegans. Offering amazing natural products, using organic and fair-trade ingredients, they are doing the best they can for a better world. All About Vegan Food gives me the opportunity to get to know more about wonderful people around the world. Interviewing them restores my faith in humanity, my hope in the future.
Besides sharing all this with our readers, we also work hard to team up with the best vegan and cruelty-free brands to give our readers – and swappers – the chance to try new products, to know new brands. For the SEPTEMPER edition of our international Vegan Package Swap we’ve also teamed up with Mōksa Organics to give away 3 GIFT PACKAGES to our US swappers!
For a chance to win, all you have to do is to JOIN THE SWAP (login in the website between TODAY – September 3rd – and 5th and click on the link “join the swap”) and be a US resident. Winners will be announced on the 6th of September.
When and how did you have the idea of starting Mōksa Organics?
Mōksa Organics was born in 2008 with our creations and formulations and we officially launched in 2009. We wanted to create a business that would allow us the opportunity to work together as a family. We wanted our children to be with us every day and we wanted to be a part of something that we could actually enjoy for the rest of our life. Mōksa Organics is perfect for us because it allows both of us to thrive and be creative within our jurisdiction. Our company is still evolving and it’s fun to be a part of it.
You and your husband run Mōksa, right? How is to have a family business?
Owning a family business can be very rewarding. Working together has really formed a unique bond and closeness for our family. You really do learn so much about each other, both the good qualities and not so good qualities. As time moves onward and the business grows, an immense feeling of satisfaction sets in. There’s a lot of peace to be had in knowing that your partner understands you completely and accepts the challenges and growing pains that come with creating a successful business. The most challenging obstacle is finding balance. There’s often little time for relaxing, so it becomes really important to learn how to set the work aside and come together as a family in the spirit of fun. The most important “must haves” for a healthy family and business: communication, playfulness, nurturing hands, forgiveness and of course, love.
You also have two children. How old are they today? Were they born when you started Moksa?
Both of our beautiful children were born after Mōksa was created. Our daughter recently turned 3 and our son is 18 months old. They are a part of our business, they love helping and they love playing with bar soaps!
Could you explain your “clean revolution” ?
Mōksa Organics is an extension of our family and our philosophy. We love nature and don’t want to see it destroyed for any reason. We value human rights and want our children to see more compassion in the world. Our lifestyle and our choices are a part of our business. We’ve combined our love for nature, a love for activism, and a desire to be a part of a world that offers well-being for all species. We’re not sure if it will happen in our life time, but we have hope. Social Entrepreneurship is the heart of our Revolution.
Your products use certified organic and fair trade ingredients. How important do you think it is to use these ingredients for us and for our planet?
Extremely important! Organic farmers have a strong connection with the food that they’re cultivating. They understand the need for healthy land, healthy soil and healthy food for our bodies. They practice sustainable farming methods and can generate intensive food production from small spaces. They understand the importance of farmscaping and alternative practices to conventional farming. I can’t express enough the importance of buying Fair Trade products. By supporting goods, art and foods that have the certification from the Fair Trade governing body, you are using your dollars towards positive change and basic human rights. The food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the textiles that we use, and the materials we use to build our homes all come from someone’s hard work and labor. The Fair Trade seal and certification ensures that child labor, slave labor and sweat shops were not a part of the equation.
You also chose not using palm oils and the discussion around the commercial harvesting of palm trees destroying the natural habitat of countless animals and deforestation is getting more known day by day. In your opinion and knowledge, is there anything close to a sustainable harvesting of palm trees? I’ve read about this recently…
I think it’s important to understand that palm oil and palm fruit in and of itself is not bad. It’s a plant that produces fruit and it comes from the Earth. That’s a good thing! Unfortunately, palm oil is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time. Not only are we losing important species, but we are losing the ecosystem services that our rainforests provide. Rainforests also play a major role in controlling the weather around the world.
There has been some progress with sustainable palm oil, however sourcing the palm oil still proves to be challenging and even the products that are labeled “sustainable” are not truly sustainable, as greenhouse gases are not accounted for, and there are still millions of acres of virgin rainforests being destroyed. There are alternatives to palm oil such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. Unfortunately, palm trees only grow in tropical regions, and the quickest and cheapest way to grow it is by clearing peat lands or virgin forests. New Britain Palm Oil has figured out how to grow sustainable palm oil on previously degraded land with a high yield. They are a great role model. The best alternative would be for smaller companies to use coconut oil or olive oil, and for larger companies to join the RSPO and push hard for oil palm growers to use only degraded land and to ensure that the full environmental costs are taken into account along the supply chain.
My hope is that industrial hemp will become legal to cultivate here in the U.S. Cultivating hemp would support our American farmers and generate much needed revenue that we are missing out on ($450 million). It has a very high yield and can be grown in small spaces. It would be a wonderful remedy for palm plantations and mass deforestation.
One other characteristic of Mōksa is that you use tree free packaging. How does it work?
Yes! Our labels are made from 100% post-consumer waste, our body butters are packaged in recycled glass and our liquid soaps are packaged in post-consumer resin. The idea is to use and reuse materials that have already been created and are in circulation. Our society has grown quite accustomed to using something once and then throwing it away. It’s more logical to reuse what we already have and to find creative and innovative second time uses for plastics and paper products. It produces less waste; it reduces the virgin supply and uses less energy. Learning the art of conserving can be a beautiful experience as well as a skillful one!
Besides offering sustainable, natural and cruelty-free products, Mōksa supports “Just and Fair wages. Women’s cooperatives. Environmental advocacy groups. Sustainable businesses. Local businesses. Non-profit environmental organizations”. Could you give us a few examples of groups you’ve supported in the last years?
We really enjoy working with local not for profit groups here in our community. A few organizations that we’ve partnered with that are doing great things in the world both local and abroad: Rwanda Sustainable Families helps Rwandan families in starting small, sustainable businesses and to support education for their children as a means of ending the cycle of poverty. The Conservation Inititiative for the Asian Elephant works primarily in Indian and Thailand. They work towards creating a just, equitable, and peaceful society in which elephants and human beings have the resources necessary to thrive. They help mediate issues between farmers and elephants by finding peaceful solutions. They work with the country’s governments in tracking elephants so they can better understand their habitats and needs to reduce poaching and unnecessary killings. Forage Farm is a great organization that educates and inspires people to value healthy food, land, and community and to create a place where people can transform their environment and themselves by exploring the natural world and engaging in the meaningful work of farming and food systems. Forage grows several of our ingredients for our products.
Back to your personal life, what are your favorite family activities? Do you and your family travel for vegan food?
We love the outdoors and spend much of our time enjoying nature. Baking bread is something that we do every day together as a family. We love creating different peasant style bread recipes with foods that are in season. The kids love vegan banana bread, apple bread, pumpkin bread, cinnamon and raisin bread, and the list goes on. The children and I cook meals together and they are learning how to garden and grow vegetables. Our children are still really young, so it’s easier for us to travel to our favorite local vegan restaurants and bakeries. We know where to find our favorite vegan cupcakes and vegan mocha lattes!
Are you raising your kids vegan? What are their favorite foods?
Yes! They love healthy, raw food. Their diet is organic and plant based. I want our children to understand the importance of sourcing their food and to understand the need for compassion towards humans and animals. Favorite foods in our house: chickpeas, hummus, fresh bread with vegan butter, sweet potatoes, potato wedges with olive oil and salt, whipped coconut cream and fresh strawberries. They absolutely love homemade no -bake vegan cookies. I created a recipe that uses shredded coconut, agave syrup, coconut oil, cocoa powder, raw peanut butter, and oatmeal and carob chips. We’re constantly exploring and creating foods and I’m so very grateful that I can nourish our children every day with healthy, whole foods.