I’ve been on a slow path to veganism for a while now.
I don’t know when I’ll get there, but for now, in my day-to-day life, I eat a plant-based diet 99% of the time. A lot of the choices I made regarding my food decisions came from having various food intolerances that made it difficult for me to eat certain foods. Generally, I don’t miss the foods that I’ve decided to omit from my life, but every so often I have a craving for something I used to eat. That is when I am especially grateful for the work vegan food companies are putting in.
Here are some vegan food companies behind the innovations that have totally changed the game for veganism and have made making the switch to a more veggie lifestyle seemingly less restrictive than before.
1. Follow Your Heart
Follow Your Heart have been at the forefront of changing the food game for decades. Started in 1970 as a vegetarian restaurant, the company has grown from there to a line of vegan products that are easily recognizable on the grocery store shelves. They are the creators of the first egg-free mayonnaise, Vegenaise, but most recently they created the VeganEgg.
What is a vegan egg made of? Well, Follow Your Heart has the ingredients list right on their website. It’s a lot of different algae extracts, plus nutritional yeast and black salt, to make it taste like sulfur. The structure of the VeganEgg allows the consumer to cook it up like an omelet or to put it into baked goods.
Below is a good review and demo of what the VeganEgg looks like when scrambled. To me, the similarities are shocking. You can find Follow Your Heart products in most grocery stores, and online at Amazon.
2. Beyond Meat
When I first heard about Beyond Meat, I didn’t know what to think. I had never really been a big meat eater before I decided to cut animal products out of my diet. I’d literally never eaten a burger. But when I heard about this company, I was intrigued, and rightfully so. This is what the future of meat could look like. It wasn’t lab grown, it was made out of plants.
The way that Beyond Meat was advertising their products was unlike anything else I had seen. The company truly does believe that they created a meat substitute that will stand up to the real thing in a way that a veggie burger won’t. The product tastes like meat.
By using a proprietary blend of pea and soy isolate proteins, they can create their foods. Isolate proteins, if you don’t know, are an extraction designed to have more protein per gram of product. It is with isolates that Beyond Meat can create a burger that has the protein equivalent of a beef patty but with no cholesterol, no trans fats, and no GMOs. To me, that’s pretty cool.
You can find Beyond Meat in the frozen aisle of your grocery store. Meatless Mondays never looked so tasty.
3. Hampton Creek
Where Vegenaise began the vegan mayonnaise trend, Hampton Creek has stepped out and completely changed the game. They came out swinging with a vegan mayonnaise created using yellow pea proteins. In the products they create, which include mayonnaise and cookie dough, oddly enough, they use isolated plant proteins to help create vegan versions of foods we know and love.
They are also well known for going to bat with Unilever, the owners of Hellman’s mayonnaise, for the right to call their product mayonnaise even though it supposedly lacked the requisite eggs to be considered so. Unilever ended up dropping the suit, and Just Mayo is still called just that. The company is headed by Josh Tetrick, and it is backed by a bunch of Silicon Valley investors who saw something worthwhile in the business model.
It is not just about creating food. It’s about changing how we see food, and how we create food.
You can find Hampton Creek products in most of the big grocery stores in the United States, and you can search their website to find the store nearest you.
4. Miyoko’s Kitchen
Often when people talk about why they could never go vegan or vegetarian is because they could never give up cheese.
And I get it. Cheese is delicious.
But as someone who has suffered from lactose intolerance their entire life, having another option – one that doesn’t make me feel awful – sounds like a much better deal. And that is where companies like Miyoko’s Kitchen come in. Legally, they can’t call their product cheese, so what they sell is a cultured nut product. That doesn’t sound entirely appealing. But what Miyoko’s is creating is a product from different nuts, oils, and flavorings and added cultures.
The cultures are what takes Miyoko’s products a step above the competition. There are a lot of different vegan cheese brands – companies like Daiya, and even store brands for Trader Joe’s and Giant Foods. But culturing the cheese is what makes it taste like cheese. It gives it that tang that is unmistakable when eating cheese. Many of the vegan cheese alternatives on the market either focus on tasting like cheese or melting like cheese, but with Miyoko’s, you get both. My favorite is the mozzarella. It melts in the same way real mozzarella does and is delicious on pizza.
Adding the cultures has completely changed the vegan cheese game. And I, for one, can’t wait to benefit from better tasting vegan cheese. Or, excuse me, cultured nut product. You can buy Miyoko’s products online at their website, or in various grocery stores.
Food should taste good, and these foods do. And wherever possible, food should also work to help heal the planet, and not harm it. One of the cornerstones of these companies is that they are involved in making life better for animals, and bringing to light the cruelty of the animal agriculture industry.
If we can make tasty, nutritious food without animals, why not support that? I know I will be, vegan mozzarella and all.