Welcome to episode #16 of Living Meatless Tales featuring Xeniya Danilov, owner of Copper Branch in the Suncor building in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Be inspired as you’re taken on an adventure of transformation and understanding as our guest shares her experience of making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same.
Xeniya was born and raised in Eastern Europe. In 1998, she moved to the USA where she was earned a bachelor degree in business administration. After she completed her degree she moved to Calgary, which has now become her home.
“In 2008, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition even though I was very active and physically fit with no family history of any conditions.
The symptoms came on suddenly… literally overnight. The pain was so excruciating that I couldn’t sleep, stand, sit, walk with ease, lift anything or even breathe sometimes. I was scared about my future. I was only 27 years old at the time and working a full-time corporate job in the oil and gas industry in downtown Calgary.
The doctors told me that my only option was to take immuno-suppressant drugs for the rest of my life with terrible side effects. However, I found this option unacceptable and refused to give up easily. I knew there had to be a better way.
I was patient and persistent with the support of my family and I truly believed that one day I would find a solution that did not include prescription drugs.
After researching different websites, books and going to a school of holistic nutrition, I learned that every disease starts in the digestive tract. Due to a depleted intestinal environment, meaning that the microbiome in our intestines are unhealthy or destroyed, we can begin to develop food sensitivities.
I was certain that there was a direct relationship between how much, and what I ate, and how sore I was the next day.
While working downtown, I always had a hard time finding healthy food that I could eat on the go. I knew I had to be very careful with what I ate because if I didn’t I was scared that I pay for it the next day. I longed for someone to open a place where I could safely eat.
Over the next 5 years I researched and experimented with different ways of eating to find “the perfect diet for me.” However, much of the research I did only lead to confusion since there’s so many promising stories of people who had found success with pretty much every diet out there. I really had no idea which one was the best one to follow… was it Paleo, Atkins, Mediterranean, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian?
To find the diet that would suit my needs best I started experimenting with each diet alone. In the end, the diet that gave me the most relief from my symptoms was the whole-food plant-based diet. After eating this way for three months, my inflammation markers drastically improved and I felt better than ever.
Personally going through this experience, and seeing the drastic results I became extremely passionate about food and health. I began to look at my journey not as a curse but as a blessing. I wanted to share it with other people and let them know that there is hope! This sparked something in me. I decided that I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world. I wanted to chase my dream – to feed people good quality food that would energize and make people feel their best.
After making this decision to follow my dreams I found the answer with the Copper Branch Restaurant franchise. When I showed the menu to my husband he was blown away. Everything from the mission statement to the company values aligned with ours. So, we decided to take the chance, open our own franchise and share this good food in our community. Although this journey has been a very bumpy ride, in the end I can say that we did it and we found our passion! I hope my story inspires others to find lifestyle that makes the feel good and one that allows them to chase their own dreams. “
About Copper Branch…
Copper Branch is North American’s leading chain of 100% plant-based casual restaurants; founded and headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
Copper Branch’s global plan is to expand across North America leading the plant-based food revolution with a number of Alberta locations opening over the next couple of years.
With a diverse menu of plant-based burgers and sandwiches, served with 100% organic kamut and spelt buns and wraps, power bowls salads, all-day breakfast, smoothies, fresh sides, desserts and organic fair-trade coffees and teas, Copper Branch offers the mainstream a chef-inspired menu of wholesome options without sacrificing taste of quality. Menu items are never fried and consist of mostly organic, non-GMO and naturally gluten-free ingredients. A strong emphasis has been placed on the inclusion of “power foods” such as chia seeds, mushrooms, quinoa and turmeric powder.
Click here to read the interview we, Living Meatless, did with co-owner and co-founder, Andrew Infantino.
Find Copper Branch Suncor location at:
Suncor Energy Centre, +15 Level
150 – 6thAvenue SW, Calgary, AB
Hours: Monday to Friday from 7am to 5pm
Thank you for reading this Living Meatless Tales story.
Until next time,
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Read my, “From Frog Killer To Compassionate Vegan” story.