My career in Natural Foods is something that I happily, however accidentally, fell into, but the trend has been a part of my lifestyle for a little over 10 years. Starting in high school I decided the treatment of animals was important to me and quickly adapted to a vegan food diet. For some, a diet like this which ignores all meats (yes, this includes chicken AND fish), all dairy products, eggs, gelatin and for some, honey, sounds difficult to adhere to, and let me tell you 10-15 years ago it wasn’t easy finding a simple vegan meal in a grocery store and the big food holidays required a lot of creativity. In the last 5 years, the vegan food trend has blown up and plant-based foods have become as common as ice in a freezer.
So, you’re probably wondering two things: How do I get my protein? And WHAT DO I EAT? I’ll tell you. The stereotyped assumption that follows vegans is that we sit in fields and eat berries and kale, and while I do LOVE kale, there is so much more available for us!
In addition to the many catered items on store shelves, common snack foods like Oreos, Nutter Butters, most sugary cereals and (my favorite) Sweet Chili Doritos are what we laughingly refer to as “accidentally vegan”. You can be vegan and still get your junk-food fill; no longer must we rely solely on black beans and broccoli! Plant-based protein is becoming more and more popular in the mainstream vernacular.
Having this unique food diet made me interested in learning more about the food-health relationship and now that I find myself playing the role of a natural foods manager, I get to have first-hand access to many of the exciting foods making our stores a unique and convenient place to shop.
Along with the food aspect of “cruelty free” living there are the ethical practices of health and beauty care. We don’t notice a lot of what goes into some of the things we put in and on our bodies, and often turn a blind eye to what goes on before any of these health and beauty products get put on our shelves ie. animal testing and animals as ingredients in our skin-care products. We all love animals, right? For instance, I have a dog who is pretty much center stage in my life – who wouldn’t love this pumpkin head??
Many of the skincare brands in the natural foods world are not only “cruelty free”, but serve an ethical purpose in the world. They have missions and values that promote the betterment and well-being of communities and individuals in the world by creating jobs in poorer communities and donating parts of their profits to charities.
Here are a few of the most mind-blowing products on our Coborn’s, Cash Wise and Marketplace Foods shelves.
For your belly:
Gardein plant-based proteins- These are marketed as “Meatless Meats” because their texture is so close to the “real thing” it’s almost scary. They have “fish”, “meatballs”, and a variety of “chicken” products to choose from and each are delicious.
Follow Your Heart Egg Replacer- For the egg-lovers, this is a godsend. Nothing came close to recreating a scrambled egg or omelet before VeganEgg. And get this: IT’S MADE FROM ALGAE. You can use it as a substitute for baking, as well.
Coconut Bliss Ice Cream- For anyone who loves to indulge in a pint of ice cream this dairy free option is all that AND a bag of chips. There are five flavors in a pint size and two options for a chocolate covered bar—but who are we kidding, just go for the pint.
Daiya- this is a wonderful brand for the dairy free, egg free, gluten free, non-meat-eater’s of the world. They started as a company for cheese alternatives providing a variety of shreds, blocks and slices but they quickly expanded to pizzas, mac & cheeses and cheesecakes.
For your skin:
Each of these brands have a variety of products for face, body and hair care, and they are GREAT! For more information on their ethics and missions you can visit their individual websites by clicking on the images.
I hope you’ll plan a visit to your Natural Foods department and take a look at an even larger variety of products for any of your dietary needs.
Cash Wise, Waite Park
Natural Foods Manager