Although they are not new, vegan diets are currently piquing the public’s interest and have sparked a "plant-based" movement. Eating vegan is defined as not eating or using animal products. There are various reasons why people have taken interest and participate in vegan diets, including:

Health: Going vegan forces one to eat more fruits and veggies because that is what the diet purely consists of. The typical American diet puts too much emphasis on animal products and refined grains, and it is becoming evident that those products lead to a whole slew of health problems, such as increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Animal Rights: Some of the meat, dairy, poultry and fish facilities have less than sub par treatment towards animals, which creates moral issues.

Environmental and Sustainability:

  • Scarcity of resources: raising animals for food takes up about 30% of our land mass, and it takes over 2,400 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef versus 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat.*
  • Footprint: livestock excretions account for 40% of methane gas emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, which are both detrimental greenhouse gases that are adding to climate change.*
  • Fossil Fuels: the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein, due to the transportation of feed and the animal itself.*

While there are additional reasons why people participate in vegan diets, one need not be an “official” vegan to eat vegan foods or create vegan recipes. The Farmers Markets are fantastic places to start exploring delicious vegan products and purchase food to make a vegan recipe!

Here are some ideas to begin:

  • There is obviously tons of fresh produce at the Markets. Instead of purchasing your typical produce, explore the wide varieties of fruits and veggies at the markets for a fun twist. For example, if tomatoes are needed for a certain recipe, try to find a variety of tomato (such as peach tomatoes) that you’ve never had before and use that as a substitute. Other more obscure (but delicious!) fruits and veggies currently in season include kohlrabi, bok choy, okra, dragon tongue beans, purslane, ground cherries, and much more!
  • Use beans as a cheap meat alternative. Beans are packed full of protein, fiber and iron and taste delicious on just about anything. Shady Side Farm has organic dried beans such as zebra, tiger, marrow, black turtle, and pinto beans.
  • Utilizing mushrooms as a meat alternative is also a great option for keeping that “meaty” texture in recipes. Mycophile’s Garden offers a wide variety of mushrooms that go further from your average white or portabella varieties.
  • At the Kalamazoo Farmers Market, there are food demos at 10AM that feature fresh seasonal produce for people to try. These recipes are usually vegan and are posted on the Kalamazoo Farmers Market blog for people to use.
  • Many vendors include vegan products along with their regular items. Below are some vendors that offer delicious vegan options:
    • Great Bread Company carries 14 varieties of low-sodium vegan breads, such as varying kinds of sour dough and whole grain.
    • Dotty, a food truck by the Organic Gypsy, carries vegan coffee drink options.
    •  Pachamama Street Food  offers a vegan Banh Mi sandwich made with ginger-lime marinated tofu. Find them at the Portage Market every Sunday, and occasionally at Kalamazoo.
    •  Kalemazoo Chips makes healthy kale chips with an array of different flavors. Not all flavors are vegan, but it should say clearly on the box which ones are.
    • Kahoona Kitchen has vegan snack options, including granola and flatbread.
    • Your Local Vegan Bakery has tons of baked goods, including cookies, donuts and brownies that are completely vegan. Emily is done for the season now, but look out for her next year!


Facts on Animal Farming and the Environment

Meat VS Veg: An Energy Perspective