Ethical Business Spotlight: BReD

Welcome back!

This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Ed and Natasha Tatton, Co-Founders of BReD! Discover how these two animal rights advocates create vegan, sustainably-made sourdough breads, baked goods, and espresso coffee drinks in the picturesque mountains of Whistler, British Columbia!

Natasha and Ed Tatton | Co-Founders of BReD | Credit: Darby Macgil

You founded your 100% plant-based organic sourdough bread shop with your husband Ed. What inspired you to create BReD and what is your mission?

Opening a bakery was a gradual realisation. Ed had often made sourdough bread in restaurants over the years so he implemented a sourdough program at the restaurant he was working at in Whistler. They had been buying in all their bread from another bakery at the time and this was an opportunity for the bistro to save money and produce a better quality loaf. Ed would experiment with new recipes at home and at work. Eventually, Ed asked his employer if he could rent the kitchen for a couple days a week to make and bake bread for family and friends.

BReD | Credit: Darby Magil

Natasha was a passionate animal rights advocate who had been teaching English for 15 years while also venturing into various food and beverage roles, nurturing her desire to establish a vegan eatery to provide more compassionate food choices for locals and tourists alike. Once the seed was planted that Ed should open a bread shop, Natasha decided to team up with her husband and found the BC Sea to Sky corridor’s first 100% plant-based bakery café.

Our mission to bake healthy naturally-leavened sourdough, wholegrain and plant-based products from scratch and baked fresh daily, which look and taste great, and make every eating experience more satisfying. We want people to prefer our offerings over animal-based products because our objective is to make veganism an easily-adopted and widely-recognised approach to reducing animal suffering and environmental damage.

We strive to create an atmosphere where we can attract, retain and motivate the brightest and most talented people in the industry; where employees can learn, grow, and innovate, while holding true to the roots of traditional baking.

BReD | Credit: Darby Magil

From hearty loaves of sourdough, to English flapjacks, cashew cheeze flatbreads, and hot chocolate with home-made coconut whip, BReD offers unique menu items that are sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike. What are your 3 favorite menu items and why?

Hot Cross Buns | BReD

Hot cross buns are so nostalgic of growing up and you can be quite creative with them. Last Easter, Ed made some with carrot in them, topped with an orange butter, and they were phenomenal! We tried selling them past Easter as they were so popular, but people’s buying habits change with the seasons so we all have to wait till next year.

Spinach + Sunflower Pesto Tartine | BReD

The tartine which is Natasha’s favourite has got to be the spinach + sunflower pesto one topped with roasted tomatoes. The crust is flaky like a croissant, and makes the most delicious lunch.

Our best selling loaf is the country sourdough. It’s a blend of organic wheat, rye and spelt flours, naturally leavened and people love it as it goes with anything – sweet or savoury. You just can’t go wrong with this loaf – it’s a crowd pleaser.

Country Sourdough | BReD | Credit: Darby Macgil

What has been the biggest challenge and biggest reward while working in the sourdough bread game?

In the Whistler winter, it gets down to -20°C in the village, which is especially challenging for sourdough because when the bakery doors are opening all day, the air is coming in and out. It’s quite a challenge to keep it consistent. We invested in a heating and cooling system, which generally keeps the shop at a constant temperature of around 22°C. In the summer, we’ll have extra air conditioning on as well, to try and keep it a little cooler.

Whistler, BC

Being in the mountains, it’s so dry during the winter and then gets so hot and humid through the summer. It really keeps Ed and the team on our toes that we have to adjust – it’s not the same recipe we use day in, day out – sometimes less water, sometimes more. We’ll use a slightly warmer water with the dough or slightly cooler water, to moderate how long the bread is fermented for. Sometimes you just have to wait, or you have to move quickly. Maybe you can go for a walk in the afternoon or maybe you get no lunch break and just keep working the whole day.

The reward is hearing people say “This is the best bread I’ve ever eaten!” or “I didn’t know I could eat bread until I ate your bread. This is the only bread I can eat!

Nestled at the base of Whistler mountain, a world premier ski resort, we get to enjoy natural beauty every day. The views outside the bread shop’s windows remind us how precious our planet is, and the privileges of clean air, water and fertile soils are not to be taken for granted. It is imperative that we preserve all we can for future generations to come.

Using organic locally-sourced grains encourages regenerative farming practices and we refrain from using glyphosate-sprayed monocultures which pillage the land. Most supermarket products travel approximately 2000km to reach the shelf from where they are made. Our grain travels around 10% of that distance to reach our facility and our local customers tend to live within a 7km radius. This reduces our carbon footprint substantially.

BReD | Credit: Mirae Campbell

Using plant-based ingredients means we are cutting out the environmental damage created by animal agriculture. 40% of agricultural emissions in Canada come directly from methane, with 90% from cattle and sheep as a result of feed digestion (according to http://www.agr.gc.ca ).

Plastic is a global problem and we do not want to contribute to it so our packaging is compostable. We believe that our local customers have the same environmental values and respect for the land as we do, and ultimately want to support businesses who contribute to a better world.

Even with compostable packaging, there is still the environmental cost of deforestation, transportation and production, and we spent our first year in business encouraging guests in dine-in when possible, and rewarded those who brought their own reusable cups with a discount.

Covid-19 gave us time to reflect on our sustainability impact, as well as a new challenge of heightened health and safety measures which favour single-use disposable items.

Vegan Baked Goods | BReD

How do you find balance between profitability, quality, and sustainability? What are some of BReD’s practices and policies to work towards a sustainable future?

We looked at our reusable discount metrics and found that less than 10% of customers were bringing their own cups anyway, and came up with a more impactful way to support both environmental and social sustainability.

Partnering with Trees for the Future, we now plant a tree for every coffee served. This way, we offset our carbon and environmental damage of compostable containers while lifting impoverished African farmers up (many of whom are women) funding a programme which gives these sub-Saharan families seedlings, tools and guidance to regenerate their degraded land and create forest gardens for food, shelter, firewood and an income.

Ultimately, the problem of world poverty has to be addressed before we can expect everyone to be on board with creating a more sustainable future for life on the planet. Therefore, we use a Vancouver-based coffee roaster who buys directly from farmers in developing countries.

Supporting local suppliers is more sustainable environmentally but also keeps the local economy going. Many people are looking to buy local more now, and the government has launched many campaigns encouraging this. If you have a good product of consistent quality, people will come back for it and won’t mind parting with their hard earned cash to get it.

Ed Tatton | Co-Founder of BReD

Many bakeries and cafes factor in 30% food wastage into their costs but we want to avoid any food waste by closely monitoring and controlling numbers to ensure all baked goods are consumed and not thrown out, even if it means offering an end-of-day deal or donating products occasionally.

What’s next for BReD?

It’s difficult year to make plans, but actually despite Covid-19 and a shift in consumer habits, we have found that overall our daily sales have improved since last year. This has given us the confidence to open for more days, and hire more staff to introduce new product lines and up the quantities of what we can currently produce.

We have strengthened our employee benefit program, so they will be even better supported from now on in terms of medical coverage and paid sick days, which of course, is a concern for many people during this pandemic.

We are also launching a fundraiser doggie treat with all profits donated to local animal sanctuaries who have not been able to host tours and events due to Covid-19, so need financial support more than ever.

One day, we would love to open another location in Vancouver, but still have more potential to reach in our Whistler store first.

BReD | Whistler, BC

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Thank you so much for checking out this Spotlight! Head on over to Instagram to support this inspiring ethical business!

Ethical Business Spotlight: The Vegan Warehouse

Welcome back!

This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Carl & Ewelina Augustin, co-founders of The Vegan Warehouse & MERSI. Learn more about this compassionate couple’s journey to create the ultimate online mega-store of fantastic vegan products!

Carl & Ewelina Augustin, co-founders of The Vegan Warehouse & MERSI

Let’s jump right in!

The Vegan Warehouse is a one-stop shop for all things vegan! From clothing and makeup to food and cleaning supplies, what inspired you to create your online superstore? 

When I went vegan in 2010, I really struggled to find vegan alternatives to my household staples that were easily accessible and affordable. Searching for replacements in fashion, beauty, skincare and household items, I aspired to find a single marketplace which aggregated all the vegan essentials I was looking for. Fast forward seven years, after partnering with my now husband, Carl, we decided to create this marketplace ourselves, with the mission to simplify the lives of all vegans out there.

MERSI / The Vegan Warehouse

There are currently over 30 vegan and cruelty-free brands featured on your marketplace. What do you look for when choosing brands to partner with?

Vegan Beauty Products / The Vegan Warehouse

We’re extremely proud to carry so many amazing vegan and cruelty-free brands at The Vegan Warehouse! When looking for new brands to feature on our marketplace, we always look for a few criteria when deciding whether they will be a hit with our customers, and our mission. Firstly, we always verify that the products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free and that they follow strict ethical practices in sourcing. 

Secondly, we are always striving to put our best eco-friendly foot forward. We know the harsh effects that fashion and beauty have had on the environment, and continue to do daily within larger corporations. By selecting products that adhere to sustainable practices and packaging, this is a top priority for us at The Vegan Warehouse. Look out for packaging made of recycled plastics, biodegradable materials, and less harsh ingredients to effect the environment.

With these morals in mind, we also are continuously searching for innovation. From cult-favorite skincare products to smaller soy-candle vendors, we are consistent about bringing the best of vegan products to The Vegan Warehouse!  

You recently launched a premium accessory line called MERSI. Congrats! If you had to choose just one item to represent the new brand, which would it be and why?

MERSI Ruby Crossbody

Thank you so much! Launching MERSI has definitely been the highlight of our 2020, and a long-running project we’ve been so elated to release! 

Looking back to when we first started The Vegan Warehouse in 2017, our best-selling handbag and fan-favorite to date has been our Ruby Crossbody, a compact cross-body style with a bold printed strap and studded hardware detail. We created MERSI with the idea of redefining the idea of “vegan fashion” and creating a bolder, more authentic landscape for our customers to explore! With its bold personality and unique design, we feel that our Ruby Crossbody speaks to the kind of brand image we speak to.

You donate a portion of your profits to animal sanctuaries and recently sponsored Lily, a resident goat at Catskill Animal Sanctuary who can really rock a heart print. For veg-curious people who are considering shifting to a vegan lifestyle, what helped you make the connection between your personal choices and animals?

Lily, Catskill Animal Sanctuary resident recently sponsored by The Vegan Warehouse

While getting educated with books and documentaries is a great route to take, nothing is more eye opening to me than spending time in nature. Living in a city we rarely think about where our food is coming from and what sacrifices are made for it. It’s often that disconnect that causes us to participate in animal cruelty. We recently visited the Catskill Animal Sanctuary to meet a few of the animals we sponsor. Spending time around them and seeing how incredibly gentle, sweet, and intelligent they are served as another reminder and reinforcement of our mission. 

What has been the biggest challenge and reward while creating your business?

I would say the biggest challenge when starting out is committing all of your energy and resources to something and putting in work consistently before you can see results. Building a business from the ground up is a roller coaster – that’s why I’m glad I’m on this journey with my co-founder and husband Carl! 

The most rewarding is definitely seeing the vegan movement spread! We aim to use our platform to educate and encourage not only the veg-curious, but also those who never thought a plant based diet could work for them. I’ve heard countless stories over the years of people taking slow steps towards eliminating meat and eventually committing to a vegan lifestyle. We are so here for it! 

The Vegan Warehouse

What’s next for The Vegan Warehouse?

We are constantly working on bringing the best and the latest in vegan beauty & fashion to our consumers. While expanding the MERSI line to include wallets and other accessories in 2021, we are also focused on widening our selection of up-and-coming skincare brands. Stay tuned to our social media @theveganwarehouse for all the exciting things to come! 

MERSI Vegan Handbags / The Vegan Warehouse

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Thank you so much for participating in my Ethical Business Spotlight series!

The Vegan Warehouse is truly a lifesaver (for animals) and takes the time and guesswork out of buying vegan beauty, household, clothing and accessories by offering them all in one place!

From animals and ethical consumers everywhere, thank you!

Ethical Business Spotlight: Sunflower Diner

Hello again!

This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Hayette Bouras, Co-Owner of the all-vegan Sunflower Diner in Asheville, North Carolina! Discover more about Sunflower Diner’s journey to create scratch-made, vegan comfort food!

Let’s jump right into the interview!

Sunflower Diner, Asheville, North Carolina

1. What inspired you to create Sunflower Diner and what makes it unique?

Sunflower Diner is the culmination of a lifetime of interests for me. I have always been a lover of food and health and spent 20 years working in many different restaurants. Having been a vegetarian since age 7, it wasn’t until a few years ago that a nutrition course in college inspired me to go vegan. Sunflower Diner is unique in that it is the only 100% vegan diner in the area and that it is situated in an awesome local natural foods market.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup IG @sunflowerdineravl

2. Your IG feed features mouthwatering dishes like cornbread waffles with organic sweet potato and black bean chili, tacos with maple dijon seitan crumbles, Cuban sandwiches, baked goods, burgers, pancakes, and much more. If you had to choose just one menu item to represent what Sunflower Diner is all about, which would it be and why?

So hard! The mission of Sunflower Diner is to create vegan comfort food that anyone can enjoy, regardless of dietary preference. With that in mind, I really love our Westside Hot Mess dish. It’s one of our fluffy coconut cream biscuits, smothered in our savory mushroom gravy, topped with our tofu scramble, drizzled with our sunflower-cashew queso sauce and served with a vegan sausage pattie. It’s so comforting and yummy.

3. On October 1st, you celebrated Sunflower Diner’s one year anniversary. Congrats! What has been the biggest challenge and biggest surprise during your first year?

Not only was it the first year that we were open, it was my first time opening and co-owning a restaurant. There was no way of knowing what 2020 would bring and so navigating the pandemic was definitely the biggest added challenge to this already challenging learning experience for me. Luckily, we had the support of our customers, our staff, and the community of people who make the West Village Market continue to thrive. The biggest surprise for me has been the overwhelming enthusiasm for our vegan menu. The vegan community of our area and beyond are showing up and showing support – it has really been heart-warming and encouraging.

4. Asheville is a fun and artsy city situated in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains that is quickly becoming a destination spot for delicious vegan food! How has the community played a role in the diner’s success during this year’s shutdowns and restrictions?

As I mentioned before, we would be nowhere without the amazing community of vegans in our area. So many people reached out to us to buy gift certificates, and continued to support us through our curbside and takeout options. As restrictions were lifted, we were surprised to have many people from other cities and states coming to dine with us and appreciate every single person who makes the trip to our tiny little diner.

5. What’s next for Sunflower Diner?

Well, in the near future, we would love to expand our hours which were greatly reduced as a result of the pandemic. Further out, we hope to outgrow our little space and think about a stand-alone brick and mortar in a couple of years.

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Sunflower Diner is now open for take-out orders and delivery. Check out their Facebook page and Instagram for info and updates!

Head on over to my Instagram to enter to win a $20 gift card to Sunflower Diner!

2020 Vegan Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I’ve put together the ultimate vegan and cruelty-free gift guide so you can make the holidays merry and bright for everyone on your shopping list! This year’s guide is all about treating yourself and your loved ones to something special (we deserve it!).

Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Let’s jump right in!

MERSI Ruby Cross-Body

Look at this stunner! The Ruby Cross-Body from MERSI adds style and a pop of color to any outfit! It’s made of the highest quality vegan leather and is the perfect gift for the conscious fashionista on your holiday shopping list!

Fyve 5 Ingredient Skincare

Give the gift of amazing skin! Fyve’s Facial Cleansing Oil, Hydrating Face Oil, and Bamboo Clay Mask gently cleanses, hydrates, and purifies with just five natural ingredients for glowing skin all year round! Read my full review and learn more about the brand in my Ethical Business Spotlight series!

FINE & RAW Chocolate Truffles

Whether you’re looking for a hostess gift, a stocking stuffer, or just want a delicious box of artisanal chocolates for yourself, you can’t beat FINE & RAW Chocolate’s Truffle Gift Set! These adorable boxes include eight handcrafted truffles that are coated in 70% dark chocolate (coconut sugar based), and include flavors such as classic bonbon, hazelnut, sea salt, and a selection of the chocolatier’s choice.

Makes Scents Natural Spa Line Body Butter and Scrub

Colder weather means everyone’s skin needs a little more moisture and TLC. Make Scents Natural Spa Line’s Oatmeal & Vanilla Body Butter features a super hydrating formula made with organic sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter. The sweet, comforting scent of vanilla and oatmeal is the ultimate holiday treat! Pair it with the Dulce de Leche Body Scrub that’s made with organic sugar for a gentle yet effective exfoliation to reveal healthy, hydrated skin all season long!

Looking for something for the guy in your life? Try out the Burly Men’s Line!

Grow Fragrance Plant-Based Candle

Grow Fragrance recently launched the first certified 100% plant-based candle! The Ginger Pumpkin scent features a festive blend of fresh ginger, toasted pumpkin, fall spices & a touch of vanilla bean. This highly-fragranced candle is made with soy and coconut oil and is designed to fill large spaces with holiday cheer!

My Favorite Indulgence World-Class Granola

My Favorite Indulgence‘s decadent granolas are a satisfying and delicious meal or snack! If you’re ready to discover the best granola around, try the Chocolate Mocha, Pumpkin-Spiced, Granola with Nuts, and Nut-Free Granola flavors! Then, pour yourself a bowl and be merry!

Hempfield Botanicals Topical CBD

Why not treat yourself or loved ones to some high-quality wellness products? Hempfield Botanicals Topical CBD Sample Pack includes a Massage Oil, Muscle Recovery, CBD Salve, and CBD Lip Balm to ease the stress of the holidays. Give this gift to say you care!

Daily Crunch Snacks

Daily Crunch Snacks sprouted almonds are the perfect stocking stuffer and guilt-free treat! Soaking almonds boosts their nutritional value while enhancing their crunch! There’s a wide variety of flavors to choose from, so there’s something for everyone including Coffee-Soaked Sprouted Almonds for java enthusiasts! Check out my review of these mouthwatering sprouted almonds!

Apothepurity Aromatherapy Roll-ons

Everyone needs a little self-care time! Apothepurity‘s aromatherapy roll-ons are a quick and convenient way to feel better in no time! The Breathe with Ease Aromatherapy Roll-on is crafted with organic peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemon oils to help you say goodbye to congestion! The Need My Beauty Sleep Aromatherapy Roll-on includes organic clary sage, frankincense, sandalwood, and ylang ylang so you can peacefully doze off and dream! Use code VTH20 for 20% off!

The Friendly Vegan Cookbook

The Friendly Vegan Cookbook, created by Michelle Cehn, founder of World of Vegan and Toni Okamoto, author of Plant-based on a Budget, features mouthwatering pastas, cookies, soups, sandwiches, and much more! Anyone who wants to master creating delicious vegan entrées, snacks, and desserts is sure to love this cookbook!

Threepaws Gourmet Organic Vegan Dog Treats

Don’t forget a gift for the doggos! Threepaws Gourmet offers healthy, plant-based treats your dogs will drool over! With fun flavors like Coconut Bacon and Strawberry Coconut Cream Bones, you can expect some extra tail wags and cuddles as a “thank you” this holiday season! Learn more about the company in my Ethical Business Spotlight!

Green Apple Active

Looking cute while doing yoga, enjoying time out with friends, or just lounging at home is easy with Green Apple Active! The Mya Essential Leggings, Mya Utility Leggings, and 18″ New Gia Crop Cami with Bamboo Support Bra are made with organic cotton and bamboo! They use anti-microbial, UV resistant, and biodegradable materials to make super high-quality, stylish, and sustainable activewear! How cool is that?!

EVOLVh Healthy Color Trio

EVOLVh’s Healthy Color Trio is a haircare lovers dream! Made from clean, plant-based ingredients, this set includes full-sized bottles of the SmartColor Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner (2019 Glamour Magazine Beauty Award Winner for Best Conditioner in the Clean/Plant Based Category) and SmartStart Leave-in Conditioner (my personal fav!). There’s a Healthy Hair Trio for every hair concern, so no matter who you’re shopping for, you can make sure they have healthy, beautiful hair!

ADORAtherapy Chakra Boost and Room Boost

The holidays are all about joy and love! ADORAtherapy‘s Joy Chakra Spice Roll On Perfume Oil is formulated with organic ingredients to activate your heart chakra with top notes of rose, gardenia, and jasmine. The Passion Room Boost Spray will fill your home with love with sweet, earthy notes of patchouli, sandalwood, and jasmine.

Heartland Farm Sanctuary

Not sure what to get the person who has everything? Make a donation in their name to Heartland Farm Sanctuary! This amazing sanctuary’s mission is to inspire compassion for all beings by offering a safe, welcoming space where people and farm animals come together to experience growth, healing and connection. They provide high-quality, specialized care to nearly 100 rescued farm animals, offer inclusive humane education programs for learners of all ages, and provide experiential therapy to ensure the Heartland community is accessible for everyone.

Make a donation to help care for Maxwell the pig, Daisy the cow, Jemma the rescued turkey, and many more!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY! Head on over to Instagram for a chance to win all of the fabulous products in this guide! (Giveaway launches on 11/15 at 12pm ET)

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Ethical Business Spotlight: Threepaws Gourmet

Happy Saturday! This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Hannah Anderson, Founder of Threepaws Gourmet! Read on to discover more about Hannah and her journey to create fabulous vegan dog treats your pups will love!

From the Founder: My name is Hannah Anderson and I reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my husband and two children (2, 4). I am originally from Seattle, WA, am a lifelong vegan, and have had the pleasure of both interning at Farm Sanctuary (in upstate NY) and working as an Editor for VegNews magazine.

Let’s jump right into the interview!

1. What inspired you to grow Threepaws Gourmet into what it is today?

When I struggled to find dog treats that were both healthy and visually exciting, I thought, ‘why should artificial colors get all the fun when there’s a rainbow of dog-friendly superfoods?’. As saturated as the pet industry was, there was an opportunity to create some healthy competition. My mission here at Threepaws Gourmet has always been the same: to “Raise the “Bone” on Dog Treat Standards.” It’s always special for me to see how people choose us to help celebrate their pup’s most special occasions, but perhaps most importantly, to see how they can feel good about treating their pups year-round. 


2. While developing fun dog bone flavors like Coconut Confetti Peanut Butter, Hickory Smoked Coconut Bacon, Strawberry Coconut Cream, and Coconut Carob Mint, your puppy Layla acted as “Chief Taste Tester” and “Crumb Control Officer.” If Layla, CTT & CCO of Threepaws Gourmet had to recommend just one flavor to a new doggo, which would it be and why?

My rescue pup Layla honestly loves them all … however, sales do tip in the direction of our Coconut Bacon Bones. 🙂

3. Your dog treats are organic and vegan, and are also free of corn, grain, gluten, and soy. Why was this important to you and did creating truly healthy, clean treats cause any issues while developing your recipes?

What began in my home kitchen is now handcrafted with love, passion, and compassion, by adults with special needs at a wonderful local organization called the Eisenhower Center. I feel it’s important for ethical business owners to make sure their values are reflected in as many aspects of their business as possible. For me, that means checking a whole lot of boxes … but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only issue with meeting our high ingredient standards is a higher cost, but we will always be committed to providing our informed and passionate customer base with treats they can trust.

4. Every month, you donate a portion of your sales to a new charity as part of your “Threepaws for a Cause” campaign. What charity have your paired up with this month?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put an abrupt halt to our much anticipated “Threepaws for A Cause” campaign. Gratefully, we were still able to donate over $1,000 from earlier this year. Giving back to charity is an important part of our purpose. 

5. What’s next for Threepaws Gourmet?

Currently we’re securing a partnership with Chewy.com, are in talks with several storefront franchises, and would love to expand sales to Canada in the near future. 

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Thank you, Hannah, for participating in my Ethical Business Spotlight series and congratulations on all of your success! My dogs absolutely LOVE your treats and I love that they’re organic, vegan, grain-free and gluten-free!

Head on over to Instagram to win a bag of Threepaws Gourmet treats and stay tuned for my upcoming 2020 Vegan Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway on Nov. 15!