Guest feature #2 : Etjen & Sandra – Just Like Your Mom (NL/BE)

While I’m neither vegetarian nor vegan myself, I encountered many vegetarians in my life and in fact, a few of my friends are vegetarian, if not vegan. Truth is, I’ve never really thought about it. Why was I eating meat? Except that it’s because that’s how I grew up, I don’t really have any other answer. And I have to admit that ever since I started eating healthy, being interested in environment and meeting vegan people, my concern on the subject rose. When asked about their “conversion”, many of the people I met told me that they came to a point where they couldn’t cope with animal cruelty anymore and didn’t see themselves eating flesh while we are basically made of flesh ourselves, while others had never really been enjoying much meat anyway and decided to cut it off completely from their diet.  But what people misunderstand is that it isn’t just about what you eat or not eat, because it’s a whole lifestyle and definitely not a trend.  Why do we hear more and more about it then? Why do we hear about it in this music scene we’re into? It isn’t easy to find an answer and maybe it has something to do with fast paced media and people being simply more open-minded about the subject. That’s what we discussed with Etjen Van Der Vliet and Sandra Smit (Just Like Your Mom’s owners) when we met them earlier last year at Groezrock Festival. At this time, they were launching a brand new creation which was the ‘Mom’s Chili Burger’ and received a Peta 2 Award for being the best vegan caterer of the year. Founded a little over 10 years ago, Just Like Your Mom are a catering company specialized in event catering but also tour support. Particularly involved in the independent, alternative music scene with strong DIY ethics, you can enjoy Just  Like Your Mom’s lovely dishes at many musical events in Belgium and The Netherlands, such as Groezrock festival, where we crossed paths.

Etjen and Sandra at Groezrock 2014 by Morgan Legars.
Etjen and Sandra at Groezrock 2014 by Morgan Legars.

S : I’m Sandra, I cook here, and we’re Just Like Your Mom!
E : I’m Etjen, Just Like Your Mom, and we’re a catering company.

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Can you present Just Like Your Mom, your activity and the background of the company?

E : We started as a tour support company, so we were going with bands on the road, we started around ten years ago with one van. And now, we have around twenty vans every day on the roads.  That’s partly the reason why we’re doing catering, because when you’re on the road, you eat a lot of shitty food, which isn’t easy, especially when vegan. And that’s how we started vegan backstage catering, before evolving to vegan frontstage catering. At Groezrock for example, we started working with a few bands backstage and now we have our own stand in the festival and that’s pretty insane.

So many people, vegan or not, converge to your stands wherever you are, how do you do this?

E : We’re good at what we do!
S : We make tasty food! And actually, we provide a good alternative.  We’re not here to judge anyone for what they eat, we just provide them with something tasty, fresh, and something made with love!  Vegan food can be just as good as any other food.

Knowing that you’ve been around for a little over a decade now, how do you feel things have evolved? There’s like a rise of consciousness that we can see at the moment, on the subject.

E :  We provide good and healthy food and from our perspective nothing is really evolving because we are doing the same thing as we always did. But the difference now is that people are being more open minded about it. Especially in the punk rock / hardcore scene, people are just more and more open about this type of animal-free foods. We also do catering at dance festivals, and some of them are 100% vegetarian, sometimes even 100% vegan, so you have 30 000 people at a festival where everybody eats vegan, which I find pretty interesting, sometimes surprising because it is not my scene. Punk/hardcore is my scene and the people I started with. These are my friends and my friends are working in the kitchen, but also on stage or in the audience. I think there’s still a lot of work to do but we do it step by step and we do it with good steps.  It’s healthy, it’s organic, and animal friendly. That’s the way we do it. We’re not preaching, we are making good food.

Have you ever encountered any trouble or argument with some people not really receptive to this lifestyle?

E : Never. From what I see, we’ve been stretching our boundaries and also being open-minded and sometimes people are really narrow minded, so we are.

For instance we get to do backstage catering at a really metal festival, in the Netherlands (death, heavy, doom, etc) and there was that band that was all about meat and we said okay, we’ll provide food and we don’t want to have any argument, so if they ever come to us, we’ll send them to the promoter because we obviously won’t do anything animal related. But in te end there wasn’t any argument because they came to us and they enjoyed it so much that they came back again around four times. So when we think about it, sometimes we’re kind of preoccupied by bands like that and they are probably concerned about us beforhand as well, but in the end, we’re all open about each other and everybody is happy and I think that’s the goal we want to reach. We want to make people surprised, even the most reticent. I like to be surprised and they like to be surprised, that’s how I remember things. I’ll always remember it, I don’t even know their names, but I’ll always remember this situation.

What do you enjoy most about doing what you do?

S : There’s that thing I love about doing backstage catering. We all know what it’s like to be on tour and we all know what it’s like to get shit food. And it’s just so amazing to have people coming up to you saying ‘I love your food, it’s the first time in a month that I’ve had proper food’ and we really ARE just like their moms! And for me it feels like providing a home away from home and that makes us happy!

E : Yes and we like inviting people to try new things here, everyone likes free food. This year, we didn’t do backstage catering at Groezrock for example, but we invited friends and bands to try it.

Are there any bands you’re really enjoying at the moment?

E : There are a lot of things, but one of the few bands that really matters to me is Boysetsfire!

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In 2014,  you have met Just Like Your Mom at Groezrock, Geentse Festen, Pinkpop, Desert Fest, Jera On Air and many other events. Just Like Your Mom just apeeared at Eurosonic/Noordslag this week and have a busy year ahead of them.
For more info you can visit Mom’s website :
 http://www.justlikeyourmom.com/ and like the Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/justlikeyourmom

Special thanks to Bart Wismans @ Kamikaze PR 
And of course Etjen and Sandra

Mary
I have a tendency to seek for new sounds and humbly contribute to its living. I'm a dreamer, I live for today and take the time to appreciate every single thing that life has to offer.

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