In a world awash with signals telling you to buy meat, Jack Porcari takes the easier path for the planet, sticking to vegetables, cheese and eggs. He details his finds for readers in Kind Cuisine, posted every Thursday.
Coming up with your grocery list can be a challenging task for those with allergies or a plant-based lifestyle.
“My family has tons of vegans,” said Vegan Grocery Store owner Gabbie Richards. “There’s me, my husband, my sister, her husband and my mother.”
Richards explained that many local supermarkets offer a decent variety of options; but shopping at multiple stores just to get your weekly groceries can be inconvenient. In March of 2018, after 14 years of sustainable shopping, Richards and other family members created a store that serves as a hub for the vegan community.
At the Vegan Grocery Store in Tonawanda, expect to find a plethora of cruelty-free and allergy-friendly food products. From veggie perogies to a vegan chocolate advent calendar, this small store has a unique and expansive inventory that everyone can enjoy.
Upon entry, I was surprised at just how many vegan products this store managed to stock. The first room inside the modest market is home to the breakfast section where you can find oat milk, butter, egg substitutes, bacon, coffee creamers, breakfast burritos, pancake mix, steel cut oats and a few choices of vegan cereal.
There was no shortage of snacks in the next room with popular items like Hippeas, Vegan Rob’s products and Earth Balance puffs. The frozen selection was also sizable with Gardein brand skillet meals like chik’n Florentino, crabless cakes, black bean burgers, Italian sausage, beefless tips and much more.
The Vegan Grocery Store makes sure all areas of your home can be stocked with safe, sustainable and ethical products. There are three shelves of vegan cleaning products, including pet friendly deodorizers, hand soap, shampoo, toothpaste and paper towels. Even your animals can enjoy the plant powered life with a few different choices of vegan dog food and treats.
But does the taste of all these unique choices live up to the hype?
I found that for the most part, it did. There’s a reason why The Alpha Nugget’s website says “Think you’ll miss meat? ‘Nugget about it.” It’s because, after about 15 crispy minutes in the air fryer, this plant-based chicken tastes like the real deal. I recommend adding Tabasco’s chipotle pepper sauce to give the chick’n a smoky and spicy flavor.
Marketed like a vegan version of Cheez-Its, From the Ground Up snacks offer a healthy and tasty alternative. I enjoyed how it wasn’t simply a vegan version of Cheez-Its: It tasted like fresh cauliflower, with a slight cheddar aftertaste. The seasoning sprinkled on the crackers was very similar to that of flavor blasted Goldfish. These orange squares are thinner and less salty compared to their non-vegan counterparts, but they slap just as hard.
The next product had me skeptical until I decided to ride the wave. With a creamy banana-packed flavor, Banana Wave’s non-dairy milk could be useful for the morning routine in your oats or cereal. Not only does it make it easier to work different fruits into your diet, but it genuinely has a pleasant taste that is both velvety and sweet.
The only product that I thought could be better was the Daiya deluxe cheezy mac and cheese. The dairy-free cheese was a little too thick and I felt the cheddar flavor was too pronounced, like an extreme version of Kraft. I would recommend Annie’s brand of vegan mac and cheese because it has a less intense taste. Luckily, it is available at the store, so this was not the biggest disappointment.
Taking a trip to The Vegan Grocery Store was a pleasure, and the future of vegan eating in Buffalo is starting to bloom. After moving into a bigger space, they purchased a produce merchandiser which will soon stock fresh vegetables. The Vegan Grocery Store also plans on adding a grab-and-go area, with options that non-vegans frequently enjoy: “Things like deli sandwiches, vegan egg salad sandwiches and easy to grab cupcakes are on our radar,” Richards said.
The Vegan Grocery Store gives customers consistent choices and those who are considering veganism have the ability to look into what the lifestyle entails. Western New York is lucky to have a safe space that is fully committed to ending animal cruelty by making the vegan diet accessible, convenient and affordable.
The Vegan Grocery Store
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday: 11a.m. – 7p.m.
Address: 324 Oliver Street, North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
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Jack Porcari is the assistant features editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science major with a minor in law and journalism. Aside from writing and editing, he enjoys playing piano, flow arts, reptiles and activism.