Vegan cafe owner was investigated for children’s diet

by Len Lear
Posted 3/17/21

Imagine getting in trouble for feeding your children healthy foods? That could only happen in an upside-down Alice in Wonderland world; right?

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Vegan cafe owner was investigated for children’s diet

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Imagine getting in trouble for feeding your children healthy foods? That could only happen in an upside-down Alice in Wonderland world; right?

Well, it could happen and did happen to Beverly Medley, 69, owner of All the Way Live Cafes at 8419 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill (only takeout offered during the pandemic) and 6108 Germantown Ave. in Germantown (open for takeout and indoor dining). Both sell wonderful home-cooked vegan foods. Medley has a son and daughter, and since they were small children, she fed them a vegan diet.

'I grew up spending summers on my grandparents' farm in Virginia,” she recalled. “He had been a sharecropper. They did not eat meat every day, but they did eat a lot of fatty salt pork. Then I read Dick Gregory's book, 'Cooking with Mother Nature.' That made me go to raw foods and veganism for me and my children. Also the book 'Survival in the 21st Century.' My own family thought I belonged in a loony bin. 'You're gonna hurt your children,' they said.

“But I did my research. I thought if the children want to change when they grow up, fine. No problem. Their choice. But they did not. My daughter strayed a little but came back to the vegan diet, and now she works with me in the business. My son never strayed. He is self-employed, buys real estate and is still a vegan.”

The trouble came when the children were in elementary school in North Philadelphia, eating only vegan foods that Beverly had prepared at home. “When they were young, a school nurse called me and said I was not feeding my kids enough food,” said Beverly.

“She said she checked their lunch boxes. They always had fresh fruits, veggies and juices. Then I got a letter about it, and then people from the city showed up at my house and inspected the house and the refrigerator, even the bedrooms. The school nurse had reported me. The fridge had a case of fresh juice and was filled with fresh vegetables and fruits. All healthy foods.

“A little later they cleared me. I was not mad at the school nurse. I realize they have a job to do and some kids are definitely neglected, but this was ridiculous. My kids never missed one day of school in 12 years. They were on the honor roll. I asked if there was ever a problem with their behavior, and they said no. So I said, 'Well, if they were really being mistreated, wouldn't you expect some bad behavior from them?'

“My sisters and mom were worried about me. They said it's not fair to the children, but once you give kids those unhealthy foods, they will get hooked and want them all the time. I had been addicted to sugar myself, and it was very hard to get unhooked. I had read the book, 'Sugar Blues,' which helped me get off sugar. To this day my kids say they did not feel deprived. I am 69, and I cannot begin to tell you how much stamina I have. I used to run outside and now run on a treadmill.

“On the other hand, I had a sister who died at 62 of diabetes complications, and my dad died at 63 of high blood pressure. I am glad I chose this path. I used to have fibroid tumors, but I got rid of them through diet and meditation, starting in the '70s when I was seven months pregnant. I heard on the radio about meditation helping you to focus, so I tried it, and it changed my life. My husband, Thomas, was a tractor-trailer driver for city who ate a traditional diet, but he thought it was fine that the rest of us ate a vegan diet. He also died young.

“If someone asks me about veganism, I will tell them how I feel and what I know, but I do not preach. I have been asked to give lectures, and I do talk about the unnecessary killing of animals. Some people are moved, and others are not. For me it's all about having love in your heart.”

Medley opened the Germantown restaurant in July of 2010 and the Chestnut Hill restaurant in September of 2019 with daughter Nyeisha Cabiness where Louie's Little Hut sandwich shop had been. The cafe was doing well until the pandemic forced them to close last year from mid-March until October.

“Things are still slow, but I'm trying to keep it open,” said Beverly. “The Chestnut Hill Community Center only charged me half-rent for three or four months, which was really nice. I was quite moved by that.”

For more information: allthewaylivecafe.com or 215-242-2250.

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