AT first, it seems wrong to mention a sweet tooth to Stephen and David Flynn, the Wicklow twins who make up the phenomenally successful Happy Pear, but here’s the thing: kick-starting a health food revolution is not about denial, it’s all about making nutritious food lip-smackingly good.
Before you know it, the Flynns have assembled a tray of “the sweet stuff”.
There are fresh strawberries topped with NewTella (a healthier chocolate-nut spread); a diced sliver of mango (“some sweet summer sunshine,” Stephen says); a slice of healthier no-bake chocolate and salted caramel tart and a mouth-watering chocolate, nut and caramel bar.
To accompany the feast, the duo start to explain how they made the transformation from meat-and-two-veg men to the vegan brothers with a vision of making the world a happier, healthier place.
“We were the biggest heathen cavemen out there,” David tells Feelgood.
They both warm to the subject, explaining in great detail how they had an appetite for all that life had to offer – alcohol, rich food and women.
Both had studied business in college and were disillusioned when they finished, so they “went off to get drunk around Europe” and “chase international skirt”.
They are in hoots of laughter and it’s as if you’re hearing the story in stereo because one starts a sentence and the other finishes it.
It also seems like light years ago because both brothers were up at 5am on the morning we visit.
They’ve already managed to swim at Ladies’ Cove, record a session at TV3, squeeze in some impromptu yoga in the TV studio’s corridors and get back in plenty of time for the mid-morning rush at the Happy Pear café in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
The place is coming alive with shoppers, coffee-drinkers, passers-by and a steady band of regulars who love what the Flynns are trying to do.
Stephen breaks into fluent Polish to talk to one of them.
His wife Justyna is Polish, which explains the fluency, but he also speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish, Irish and German.
David speaks French, Spanish, Irish and German.
Their linguistic prowess isn’t really surprising because the Flynns are interested in anything that brings people together.
Their latest book, ‘The World of the Happy Pear’, published by Penguin Ireland, certainly wants to spread their ‘Eat more veg’ mantra, but there is a whole lot more to it than that.
“This book is like a philosophy book with recipes,” says David.
In short, the Flynns thesis goes like this: Eating more veg is a tipping point to so many of the other good things that life has to offer.
A healthy diet makes you more inclined to exercise, which in turn releases feel-good endorphins. That gives you more energy, which means you are more likely to get out more, meet more people and feel more connected to both the environment and other people.
“We believe having a sense of community and connection in your life is every bit as important as eating your veg,” they say.
So how did they go from meat-eating cavemen to vegan dreamers?
It happened gradually but, remarkably, they both decided to go vegetarian in the same week independently of each other while on opposite sides of the world; Stephen was in Canada and David was in South Africa.
“At that point,” says Stephen, “we were ready to come home. I said to Dave, ‘Do you want to start a health food revolution?’
That revolution started in 2004 when they bought a veg shop in Greystones and it has grown into a multi-faceted business with nearly 100 employees.
This month, three new bars will be added to their range of pestos, now available in 300 shops.
A raw energy bar, a chia mulberry power bar and a superfood tiffin bar arrive at the table for tasting too. Delicious.
If you’re on for change – and the Happy Pear will never force their way of living on anyone – they advise people to make small, simple changes.
“Be kind and gentle with yourself,” says Stephen. “Try porridge for breakfast or a smoothie or put an avocado on toast. Mix it up. Go out for a walk before breakfast. Take baby steps.”
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