At each meal, we have the opportunity to eat in a way that is consistent with our values and interests. Finding vegan food is getting easier and easier, and fortunately, compassionate food choices don’t have to be boring.
The market for vegan and vegetarian food is expanding – from about $646 million in 1998 to $2.8 billion in 2006 and still growing. In their 2009 Vegetarian Foods Market Assessment, Research and Markets declared that “vegetarian foods have moved from being a niche sector [...] to becoming a mature and mainstream sector.”
Growing awareness of animal welfare, general health and environmental issues has driven Americans to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. A 2008 poll conducted by Vegetarian Times magazine found that while 3.2% of adult Americans are vegetarians, an additional 10% identify as “vegetarian inclined.” We are in the midst of a movement toward more conscientious eating, and cruelty-free cuisine is impressing vegans and non-vegans alike. It is getting easier to find foods that are fun, delicious, environmentally sustainable, and animal-friendly.
Veggie Brothers, an online vegan restaurant, is one of the many businesses working hard to make delicious vegan food readily available. Award-winning Chef Mark Rasmussen and businessman Michael Balducci are helping to ease the transition to a plant-based diet for the masses. Billed as "vegan cuisine for the mainstream,” their ready-made meals and sides focus on American classics and emphasize non-GMO and organically sourced ingredients.
For those of you in New York state who don’t have time to cook and can’t afford your own private chef, Lagusta’s Luscious also prepares vegan meals for home delivery.
For dessert, Allison’s Gourmet provides a wide selection of cruelty-free baked goods and confections to sate your sweet tooth. Vegans can enjoy decadent fudge again! And, if you’re avoiding refined sugars or gluten, check out Pure Sweets, where macaroons, muffins, and other snacks abound.
If you love chocolate, you’re in luck. Sjaaks Organic Chocolates, Rose City Chocolatier, and Life by Chocolate each carry a line of vegan chocolates. Spread the spirit of compassion and show how amazing vegan food can be by picking up a gift box of gourmet vegan chocolates for the office. If ice cream is more your speed, Turtle Mountain offers delicious dairy-free frozen desserts, yogurt and beverages.
These are just a few of the many specialty vegan food companies putting a new and innovative twist on animal-friendly eats. What’s your favorite specialty vegan food? Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments below. There has never been a better time to be vegan, so enjoy! Your body, the Earth and the animals will thank you.