Vegans: The truth behind food variety

By: Lauren Kubiak

A vegan diet tends to be associated with a certain stigma. Recently, the option to eat vegan meals has grown in popularity, and alternatives to animal products has increased in grocery stores and restaurants.

About one million Americans are vegans, and interest in veganism doubled between April 2015 and April 2016.

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Kimberly Gabel, a civil and environmental engineering major at Rowan University, has been a vegan for five years.

Gabel said, “I don’t eat just salad!”

She has numerous food options as a vegan. Since giving up all animal products, Gabel said there has been an increase of substitutions in grocery stores and even restaurants.

Gabel does all of her food shopping at Shop Rite. The store offers multiple butter, cream cheese and chicken substitutes. Whole Foods is another option but can get pricey depending on certain items and brands.

Gardein is Gabel’s favorite brand for meatless products such as chicken fingers, meatballs, turkey cutlets and barbecue chicken.

The “fake meat” that vegans eat are created from plant-based proteins.

Andrew Olson, a six-year vegan, has a blog dedicated to plant-based diets. Olson’s blog explains how one ingredient, a banana pepper, can give 10 ingredients. A diet without any processed foods can start with just “one whole ingredient you can hold in your hand.”

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Photos of Andrew Olson by One Ingredient Chef blog.

Olson said he has seen growth in vegan-friendly options at the grocery store. The dairy section provides more varieties of non-dairy milks, yogurts and cheese.

Olson’s favorite recipes on his blog include Coconut Curried Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and The Perfect Vegan Pancakes.

Not only have grocery stores been adding to vegan-friendly sections, but restaurants are more accommodating. Pop Shop, Taco Bell, Nick’s Pizza, Healthy Garden and Moe’s Southwest Grill supply vegan options in southern New Jersey.

“Food is power, and we get to decide with every bite we take whether that power is working for or against us,” said Olson.

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