Owner Donisha Gant says the new market is the culmination of her own personal journey with veganism. Gant says she started eating vegan a few years back because of health reasons, and it took her a while to find plant-based replacements for the things she loved to eat, like ground beef.
“Becoming vegan was trial and error,” she says. “There were some things I didn’t like at first but grew to like over time, and I was able to find vegan substitutes that fit my taste.”
As veganism has become more popular over the decades, food science has evolved to offer all kinds of plant-based foods. If you told someone just five years ago that Burger King would be selling plant-based Whoppers and Starbucks would be featuring lattes with almond milk, they would have told you to go back to Burning Man, where you came from.
The secret sauce behind Plantae is sourcing. There are so many vegan options out there, often made by small independent food companies, it’s difficult to know what is good and what isn’t. At Plantae, Gant focuses on bringing in premium products.
“Before, vegan had to stick to salads and things like that, but now – oh my gosh — there are so many options,” she says. “There are a lot of innovative food companies putting out things that were great vegan substitutes, with great flavor and textures. Like I have vegan chicken drumsticks and bacon that are ‘a ten’ in my eyes.”
She’s right. The Beleaf Vegan drumsticks I bought tasted savoy and filling, especially with a bit of barbecue sauce. The company’s vegan bacon was also a bang-on replacement for the pork version.
But as good as vegan food is right now, it’s still a bit of a niche. Partly because of this, there is a strong community around it, especially here in Western New York. Gant says she’s felt the love from the vegan community and there are plans to feature local venders at Plantae in the near future.
“During my Grand Opening day, I met a lot of local vegan vendors that were interested in doing pop-up events in the store,” she says. “So everyone has been getting in touch and we’re hoping to become a big community. Everyone has been coming together, sharing each other’s posts online, and talking about collab-ing. It’s just wonderful to have a great, growing community.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
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