According to data from the Plant Based Foods Association, US sales of vegan food have increased by more than 20 percent over the last year, topping $3.3 billion. With more and more individuals choosing to go vegan, you may have heard the phrase. But what does it mean?
A vegan diet is one that excludes animal products, which means no meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, or honey. Vegans also tend to choose health and beauty products that do not contain animal products and are not tested on animals. People tend to cite one (or more) of three main motives for deciding to go vegan—animal welfare, environmental concerns, and personal health.
Carol Glasser, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Minnesota State University Mankato, commutes from the Twin Cities for work and frequently stops at the St. Peter Food Co-op. “…it is an important stop for me because it is one of the only places to pick up vegan friendly and cruelty free products on my way home, and food for lunch on my way to work.” says Glasser.
Some of Glasser’s favorite vegan Co-op offerings include:
- Roasted Veggie Sandwich (hold the cheese and add Veganaise)
- Salad bar salads
- Cruelty-free vitamins & lotion
- Wheatgrass and other organic greens for her pet rabbit
- Miyoko’s vegan cheese
- Yves Veggie Pepperoni
- Tofu & baked tofu
- Pre-cut carrot and celery sticks
- Veggies, veggies, veggies
“I will not be in Minnesota for the Holidays, but if I was staying a Tofurky would be my go-to. I appreciate that the Co-op carries Tofurky year round!” she adds.
According to St. Peter Food Co-op team member Dimitri Rain, the Co-op offers a wide variety of vegan options. “Just about anything you can think of we probably have,” says Rain. “The V word doesn’t have to be a scary one. Vegan options have come a long long way over the years. They are more readily available, there are more options, and most importantly, they are delicious!”
Eating vegan at the Co-op
- There is a vegan option for just about every kind of meat – don’t miss frozen Gardein products and fresh Beyond Burger patties.
- There are a lot of milk substitutes out there… soy, rice, cashew, almond, coconut, hemp, hazelnut, oat, macadamia, and even milk made from pea protein.
- There is usually a vegan Hot Bar option as well as a vegan soup each day – if you’re wondering, ask!
If you’re thinking about digging deeper into a vegan diet, here are some tips, courtesy of Stronger Together:
- Take some time to browse the aisles of your food co-op for vegan alternatives to your standard purchases, like mayonnaise and dressings, cereals and chocolate chips. Read labels, which by law must clearly indicate if an item contains milk products. Also look for vegan entrees, snacks, breads, and desserts at the deli and bakery counters.
- Check out the ethnic aisles at your co-op. (Ethnic cuisines are often a good choice for their reliance on plant foods.) Good options include Indian curries and dal, Middle Eastern hummus and tabouli, African flat bread and lentils, and Thai vegetable curries.
- Variety is key. Instead of subsisting on a limited list of vegan staples, choose from a range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes when you shop at the co-op. Take care to incorporate soyfoods and other meat substitutes into your diet for extra protein, and up your intake of calcium, iron, and vitamins B and D by making your menus diverse.
Whether you keep to an exclusively plant-based diet or not, vegan and non-vegan eaters alike will find plenty of delicious, satisfying vegan recipes online at strongertogether.coop.