As James Bloodsaw watched his father’s health deteriorate, he knew he had to make a change.
“He told me not to end up like him,” Bloodsaw said of his father, who passed away after suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Bloodsaw made a radical change in his own diet and went entirely vegan – and was quickly frustrated by the lack of easy, convenient vegan meals and snacks.
Bloodsaw had already been cooking professionally for nearly 30 years, following in the footsteps of his father, who was the head dietary chef at the VA hospital in Madison. While working as a chef at Upstairs Downstairs Catering, Bloodsaw started creating his own vegan delicacies.
“I was just making stuff and then bringing it to work and having my coworkers try it. I was experimenting on them,” he said.
That experiment was successful enough that he took another step, hosting a booth at the Madison Makers’ Fair as a bigger test.
“If people like it, I’ll start a business,” he thought at the time.
Five years later, that business – Just Veggiez – has been honored by the Small Business Administration as Wisconsin Emerging Business of the Year.