What do current vegans say they needed before trying to go vegan themselves? A solid understanding of how our lifestyle choices impact animals, our health and the planet, access to delicious products and recipes, and a supportive community, were overwhelmingly the top-ranking answers. I 100% agree!
A new program called The Vegan Success Initiative offers a brand new approach to incorporate all of these aspects. Their interactive 6-week course launches on January 1st, and provides aspiring vegans with the resources needed to transition to a vegan lifestyle… all while having fun and making friends!
Every week, the group joins together for a weekly Zoom check-in to connect and support other members while discussing the week’s topics and enjoying new recipes. Partners of The Vegan Success Initiative will also provide participants with fabulous plant-based products and exclusive promotions. Shopping and lifestyle guides will also be provided.
How cool is this? I would have totally signed up when I was going vegan! I had no idea how to cook or shop for vegan food, and definitely didn’t have any vegan friends to support me!
If you know someone who wants to transition to a vegan lifestyle but needs some support, tell them to visit vegansuccess.org/signupto get on the list today!
What a time to be alive! The plant-based meat industry is booming with new products popping up in grocery stores, restaurants, and kitchens all around the world! Vegan meats are delicious and way better for your health and the planet than animal meat, but they often contain a long list of ingredients we just don’t need. The OG, plant-based chicken nuggets out there will always be near and dear to my vegan heart, but it’s time level up!
For this month’s Ethical Business Spotlight, I’m thrilled to feature the next generation of plant-based chicken nuggets: Nowadays!
With Nowadays, you don’t have to choose between enjoying a mouthwatering snack and clean, healthy ingredients. As their tagline says, “Nowadays, it’s easy to indulge better.“ Let’s jump right in!
Meet the Founders:
Nowaday’s founders Max Elder and Dominik Grabinkski have a combined three and a half decades of experience in the food industry.
Max Elder is a food systems expert and experienced consultant who has spent his career passionately advocating for food that nourishes both people and the planet. Max advised groups such as Nestlé, General Mills, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Nutrition Program during his time at the Institute for the Future.
Dominik is an agricultural engineer and father of two. He has worked in senior positions at some of the largest agricultural food ingredient companies, including Cargill and DSM.
The two met through their joint work in the alt-protein space in the Bay Area and joined forces to launch Nowadays, a new public benefit corporation that produces plant-based meats with only a few simple ingredients and an unparalleled nutritional profile.
Get to know Nowadays!
What is the inspiration and mission behind Nowadays?
Nowadays started with a craving. A craving for tastier, better-for-you comfort foods. A craving to do better for the planet and all who live on it. Nowadays, we know better is possible. That’s why we are reinventing classic favorites with simple, limited-ingredient and wholesome plant-based ingredients that the whole family can enjoy. Life is complicated enough, we believe eating well should be simple.
Many plant-based nuggets on the market contain a long list of ingredients including sugars, additives, and preservatives. Your nuggets break the mold with just a few natural ingredients. How long did it take to create your delicious nuggets and how were the ingredients chosen?
It took about a year to develop the Nowadays nugget, which is already in it’s second version since launching in May 2021.
Each ingredient was thoughtfully selected with your health and that of the planet in mind. Our flagship protein is non-GM, organic yellow peas that are sustainably grown here in the US — compared to raising chicken for meat, peas release 10x less CO2, use 1.3x less land, and require 3.6x less water. For an egg replacement, we chose maple fiber. Red maple trees are one of the most abundant hardwood trees in America, so in addition to being a perfect egg substitute they are an excellent source of sustainable fiber.
One thing we consistently noticed with many other fried chicken options—conventional and plant-based—was exceptionally high sodium content. Keeping sodium low was a top priority for us, so we chose to utilize mushroom and yeast extract to create a delicious savory, umami “chicken” flavor without the need for lots of added salt.
What was the biggest challenge and biggest surprise while developing your nuggets?
While we love pea protein for its versatility, texture, and climate benefits, our process of turning pea protein into nuggets was incredibly challenging. So challenging, in fact, that we’re in the process of patenting it.
In hindsight, perhaps not that surprising, but what we learned really quickly bringing these nuggets to market is that personal preferences for nuggets are strong and vastly different. So much so that we’ve now updated our cooking times to ranges in order to satisfy customers’ preferences between juicy and crispy! How about you? Are you team juicy or team crispy?
What are your top 3 favorite ways to enjoy Nowadays Original Nuggets?
Fresh out of the air fryer with a little side of ketchup. Boring, we know, but they’re that good.
Chopped up on a salad. Easy, fresh, and a feel-good protein that pairs well with every single salad dressing. We’ve tried them all.
What’s next for Nowadays?
Right now, we’re focused on making sure that our nuggets are absolutely the best alt-meat nuggets on the market. BUT we’re also excited to expand the Nowadays family. Stay tuned for some exciting new releases this year!
We also get requests everyday from people across the country wanting to buy our nuggets online, so we’re working hard to ship nationwide soon as well.
To try your very first box of Nowadays original nuggets, use code VEGANTREASUREHUNTER to get 25% off!
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for checking out this Spotlight! Head on over to Instagram to support this inspiring ethical business!
This week’s Ethical Business Spotlight features Carl & Ewelina Augustin, co-founders ofThe Vegan Warehouse&MERSI. Learn more about this compassionate couple’s journey to create the ultimate online mega-store of fantastic vegan products!
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.
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?
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?
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?
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!