After beating cancer twice and then opening up the first vegan food truck in Sooke, it’s safe to say Shawna Knight really is “queen of the comeback.”
Knight has always been passionate about healthy living and culinary arts.
She grew up on the Lower Mainland in Aldergrove, and spent many of her days doing outdoor activities such as biking and snowboarding.
After graduation, Knight moved to Whistler where she worked as a cook at Pony Espresso and taught snowboarding for about 10 years. She then moved to Nova Scotia to start a family, but it wasn’t long before she moved back to the West Coast.
“My heart is with the West Coast. Surfing is what brought me to Sooke, because I wanted to try another board sport,” explained Knight, who has now been living in Sooke for 13 years.
Knight said she loves Sooke because it’s so close to nature, is rural but close to downtown, and is a great place to raise a family.
“There’s so much to do here, so many beaches, trails, and parks, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” said Knight.
Since living in Sooke, Knight has worked for a couple of food trucks, but had a dream to start her own, so in 2016, that’s exactly what she did.
“The main reason I started it was for my health. I have always lived a healthy life, I barely drink, I don’t smoke, I’ve pretty much always been a vegan or vegetarian, so it was such a shock to me when I was diagnosed,” said Knight, explaining that after having thyroid cancer in 2013, and again in 2015, she wanted to spend as much time with her family as possible.
“This business lets me do that. I’m off when my kids are done school, and my kids work with me so it’s great.”
Buddha Box is open outside the Sooke Brewing Company Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12 to 5 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays at the Sooke Country Market. The menu features dishes such as black bean and yam tacos, a tofu peanut noodle bowl, and coconut-lentil curry served on organic brown rice.
“The menu changes throughout the year because all of the vegetables I use are seasonal, and sourced from local farmers,” said Knight.
Knight wanted to own a food truck rather than open up a restaurant because of the freedom that comes with it; She can take her business anywhere, and she likes the captive audience it attracts.
“There’s a certain vibe that comes with food trucks, it’s less formal, and people are drawn to it. Its a conversation starter, and I like the quick connections I have with customers,” said Knight.
“I might only talk to them for two minutes, but anything can happen, whether we talk about food, life, relationships. Maybe they’ll see the scar on my throat and share their story, that they’ve been through something similar. So it can be quite inspiring, and the people here are amazing.”
Though it hasn’t been easy for Knight to start up a vegan business in a small town, her goal with the food truck is to create a sustainable business, and provide food for people in Sooke that is healthy and affordable.
“I’ve been down and out, and I’ve learned that it’s not about your successes or your failures, it’s about getting back up. I’m queen of the comeback,” Knight said.
“Having cancer makes you realize that you can’t control the good or bad things that happen to you. Whatever is meant to happen will, so all you can do is surrender and be happy.”