While it’s awesome that major supermarket chains are finally carrying decent vegan products, there is something to be said for the small, independently-owned vegan market.
These places are usually owned and run by vegans and have been there for us when no one else was. New York has Orchard Grocer, Portland has Food Fight! Grocery, Denver has Nooch – and during our recent trip to Europe we found Vegekauppa in Helsinki and Veganz in Berlin. What’s so great about these places is that not only can you feel good about supporting a small business versus a huge corporation, your money is going to an all-vegan venture. Additionally, these small markets usually carry amazing vegan products you can’t find anywhere else.
In Los Angeles, we’re blessed to have Besties Vegan Paradise. Nestled in a tiny storefront in east Hollywood, this little vegan shop truly lives up to its name. Not only is it stocked with unique and delicious vegan products, they regularly have food trucks parked out front offering some of the best vegan food in town. The people who run Besties are fabulous and probably the only people I know who get as excited about new vegan products as me!
I wanted to highlight some of the fantastic stuff I get at Besties that I’ve either discovered there or truly can’t find anywhere else. Long live the small, independently-owned vegan market!
1. Good & Green Proscuitto and Carpaccio
I actually read about this stuff a little while ago and thought it was only going to be available in Italy, so you can imagine how excited I was when they showed up on the shelves at Besties. Seriously, this stuff is outstanding! The texture and the taste are spot on — the slices are so thin and delicate. Perfect with melon or on an epic vegan cheese plate.
2. Jule’s Cashew Brie
One of my favorite things about small, independently-owned shops is that they’ll usually stock local products you can’t find in large chain stores. Jule’s Cashew Brie is made right here in California and it is EXCELLENT! I’ve noticed that most small vegan shops will carry locally-made vegan cheeses and they’re always great. On one of our visits to New York, my husband and I loaded up on a bunch of vegan cheeses and crackers from Orchard Grocer, got a bottle of wine, and made that our dinner. It was divine!
3. Blöde Kuh Cultured Cheese
I first discovered this stuff at Hinterhof, LA’s vegan German restaurant and beer garden. It was served on a cheese plate and it was so good I asked the server where it was from. He let me know it was a local vegan cheese maker but that it was only available at farmers markets. It wasn’t long before I found it at Besties. Love this stuff!
4. Be Leaf Vegan Fried Egg
Gurl, the world is sleeping on this product. Trust me when I say this is the best vegan egg money can buy. It comes frozen, so all you have to do is fry it up in a pan and BAM! This is legit the closest thing I’ve had to eggs since I went vegan. Put this on a bagel or in a breakfast sandwich and OMG! Thank you, Be Leaf! 😭😭😭
5. Be Leaf Meatless Jerky
The people at Be Leaf did it again! This product is also stellar. I never ate jerky before I went vegan so I have nothing to compare this to but I LOVE it. Since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated, this is also the perfect thing to pack when you’re traveling.
6. Yeah Dawg Vegan Hot Dogs
OK, everyone from the east coast calm down — I know you’ve had Yeah Dawg forever — the west coast, however, has been left out in the cold and it’s tragic. Yeah Dawg is like a healthy vegan hot dog made from whole foods. But don’t let that fool you, they’re exceptional!
7. Nodoh Fried Nozzarella Sticks
These are stretchy and gooey and salty and fucking genius! I have no idea how these are vegan and gluten-free, all I know is that they’re essential. Nodoh is another local brand. ❤️
8. Violife Cream Cheese
OK, so I know Violife is being carried in Whole Foods these days (which is fabulous) but I’ve never come across their cream cheese anywhere except Besties. Gurls, this is the best vegan cream cheese on the market. You heard it here.
9. Califia Farms Übermilk
Like Violife, I’ve seen Califia Farms everywhere but not their Übermilk. This is such a unique product! First, it’s creamy AF — like a drop is all you need in your coffee. Second, it’s made from a blend of oats, pea protein, and sunflower oil so it’s LOADED with protein and omegas. I’m sure we’ll see this in the supermarket soon.
10. Bobo’s Pop Tarts
I’ve heard of Bobo’s Bars, but pop tarts? Yes, ladies! These make for a really easy breakfast or snack. I don’t know why I took pics of these flavors because they also come in chocolate peanut butter and chocolate almond butter — you can keep blueberry lemon poppyseed.
11. Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
This is a really unique twist on vegan jerky — instead of using soy or seitan like most on the market, Pan’s uses shitake mushrooms. While I still prefer the Be Leaf jerky, this is a great snack and it’s loaded with vitamin D.
In closing, I just want to say that if you live in part the country (or the world) that doesn’t have a vegan market, don’t despair. There are also lots of vegan stores online that’ll ship right to your door. And remember, if your local market or health food store doesn’t carry a product you love, it never hurts to ask them to. Chances are if you love something, their other customers will too!