Life happens. We all have events that change the course of our lives forever and this is the story of Levy Li. “I was studying for my master’s degree in the US when I received the news that my father was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. He passed away three months after but that journey changed my life,” shares Levy, adding that during that period, she was heavily researching on the cause and effect of food. “Then, I was fortunate enough to have experts from the institution to advise me on my father’s condition. And no surprise, it all pointed to one main factor: diet.” And since then, Levy has become a vegetarian and never felt better with her decision.
When she returned to Malaysia in 2011, she worked as a consultant in a few major tech start-ups for three years and then another two more at boutique developer BÖN Estates, before deciding to pursue her passion in healthy wholesome food. “We Malaysian love our food. Sadly, there is a lot of frying and spices going on. It’s either overcooked or covered with gravies. And the method of cooking doesn’t retain the ingredients’ nutrients. At the end of the day, what we eat doesn’t benefit our health,” she laments, stating that she prefers to cook at home than to eat outside. “It’s hard to locate a decent vegetarian outlet, but it’s way harder to find clean healthy food.”
In turn, she started curating her own recipes, cooking and experimenting them herself until October 2016. “I’ve been studying the market for the past six years and noticed recently, there is a movement on clean eating and the demand is rising. This is the reason why I’ve decided to start The Good Co.,” replies Levy, noting that when it comes to eating healthy, there are three conditions she had to meet. “Generally, people don’t eat healthy because it is pricey, inconvenient and unfulfilling. The portion doesn’t meet the fee. Here at The Good Co., we hear your grievances. We try to price our food at least 20 percent lower; not because we want to beat other outlets, but we genuinely want people to come in and give wholesome eating a chance. Our portion is generous and we also have our own delivery platform,” she explains, highlighting that customers can order the oats jar and salad pot in bulk as the former has a shelf life of up to four days, and the latter up to two. The response? Thus far, everyone is loving the concept.
The Good Co.’s tagline is ‘nothing beats honest food’. Why ‘honest’? Can you elaborate on that?
To me, to be honest is to be transparent. All our ingredients used in our meals are natural. There are no additional flavourings, preservatives and other nasty things inside. We don’t use refined sugar as well. In short, we don’t believe in processed food. We prefer molasses, maple syrup and other natural raw sweeteners. Though we still use them, we make sure that they are kept to a minimal. Take, for example, our smoothie bowls. Fruits have their own natural sweetness. So why would we want additional sugar in it?
Tell us about your plans for The Good Co.
I initially wanted to start it as a grab-and-go kiosk like Pret a Manger and Whole Food Market; to introduce it as the new healthy fast food. This Bangsar outlet shall be our flagship store while we look at several other high-traffic destinations. It would be a dream come true if I could do it in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Apart from that, I would also like to educate the public by targeting medical centres and schools, but that is for the later part.
When it comes to eating healthy, do you believe in cheat days?
I do believe in cheat days. When I travel, I like to explore the local food. To me, a cheat day is when you get the opportunity to appreciate food that you rarely engage with. You can consume food that you like but haven’t eaten for a while. However, it’s risky especially for those who don’t have a strong sense of self-discipline. Be careful not to over-indulge. It’s important to take the time to savour the flavours; to let them excite your palate.
Apart from food, how can one improve one’s quality of life?
To have inner peace and I achieve it through meditation. It really helps! Especially when you are living amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. When I’m impatient or angry, I would take the time to breathe. Meditation is all about breathing; to calm myself by breathing in and out; to slowly realise happiness and peace are within me. Somehow, after that, everything seems to become half full rather than half empty. Life becomes much better and brighter.