Being a vegan means a whole lot more than eating a meat- and dairy-free diet — it's a lifestyle committed to not using any animal products. This means that strict, dedicated vegans don't wear materials like leather and suede or use any products that have been tested on animals or harmed animals in the production process in any way. And it's not always easy to find products you love that fit the vegan lifestyle.
Fortunately for all you vegans out there (and for food allergy sufferers and environmentalists, too!), there are more and more stores and brands dedicated to this animal- and eco-friendly lifestyle, so you can meet all your needs with ease.From food and cosmetics to clothes and accessories, here are 13 businesses every vegan needs to know.
Just because you're vegan, doesn't mean you need to skip dessert. While most sweets, from baked goods to candies, are loaded with not-so-vegan-friendly ingredients like butter, milk, eggs and honey (though not all vegans cut out honey), Allison's Gourmet is home to tons of delicious vegan takes on your favorite confections, like fudge, peanut brittle, chocolates, caramels, cookies, brownies and more — all of which you can order online. Allison's Gourmet also sells organic coffee, tea and cocoa and offers memberships to monthly clubs, like Cookie of the Month, Brownie of the Month, Fudge of the Month and Taste of the Month (this one gives you a little bit of everything). According to its website, Allison's Gourmet uses "only the finest organic, fair-trade, vegan ingredients that honor and respect growers, animals, the planet and of course, you!"
Move over, Dunkin' Donuts. Mighty-O Donuts knows how to do donuts well (and vegan, too). The company's reasoning for making all of its donuts vegan? The organization's website simply states, "We do not need any extra ingredients [like eggs and dairy] to make a delicious donut everyone can enjoy." Bonus: Not only are all of the donuts at Mighty-O Donuts vegan, the shop also does not use any artificial colors, dyes, additives or preservatives in its donuts or toppings, so you know exactly what you're getting into when you take a bite. And if you visit the company's shop in Seattle, you'll see that it also supports the local art community by offering up wall space for monthly exhibitions. The only downside: Mighty-O doesn't deliver unless you're one of the company's wholesale retailers, and even then, when it comes to out-of-state orders, Mighty-O only ships to Oregon and Colorado — though the company does plan to expand.
If you're not already vegan or considering going vegan, you may not realize that living a vegan lifestyle means giving up seafood, too. Sophie's Kitchen offers great alternatives for those who love to eat fish and shellfish but can't (the company's products are perfect if you're not vegan, but have allergies, for example) or those who choose not to. Sophie's Kitchen sells products like crab cakes, breaded scallops, breaded calamari, breaded coconut shrimp, prawns, smoked salmon, tuna and more — all of which are vegan and plant-based. The company is Non-GMO Project-verified and uses ingredients like seaweed, textured vegetable protein and konjac (elephant yam root) to make sustainable alternatives to your favorite fishy foods. If you want to stock your own store with the company's products, you can find Sophie's Kitchen products at some local food stores, or you can order the products online — either as an individual or a retailer.
Think breakfast can never be the same when you're vegan? Think again. Thanks to The Vegg, you don't have to live without eggs — well, sort of. The Vegg makes several vegan egg substitute products so that vegans can still eat things like omelets, breakfast sandwiches and baked goods to their hearts' content. The company sells a scrambled egg mix made from soy protein and nutritional yeast (among other ingredients) as well as vegan egg yolk substitute, an egg replacer for baking and a special French toast mix — all of which boast an authentic egg flavor and can be purchased online on the company's website. The Vegg also sells a cookbook to make using its products even easier. [13 Strange Businesses You Didn't Know Existed ]
We should warn you — this next business is a little cheesy (literally). As a vegan, you can't eat cheese, since it's made from animal milk, but that doesn't mean you have to go without cheese forever. While you can purchase cheese substitutes from big brands like Daiya and Tofutti at your local grocery store, fancy vegan artisanal cheeses aren't exactly easy to come by. Dr. Cow makes delicious cheeses made out of tree nuts, like organic cream cashew cheese, aged macadamia cheese and more. The company also makes granola and oatmeal products, and you can purchase its products online or at the company's retail location in Brooklyn.
The Vegan Vine
Vegans and wine lovers alike, rejoice! The Vegan Vine is a wine brand that is grown and produced by a family-owned winery, Clos LaChance Winery, in California. You may be wondering how wine can be anything but vegan, and that's exactly why The Vegan Vine was developed — to educate people on the wine production process, which often uses animal products. According to the company's website, The Vegan Vine started when a family member "was curious if Clos LaChance's wines were suitable for his animal-free lifestyle," which prompted the owners to meet with a production team and find a way to produce high-quality wines that support a vegan lifestyle, along with ways to keep wine lovers informed. The Vegan Vine currently offers a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 Chardonnay available for purchase on the company's website, along with a Web page that features vegan recipe pairings for each wine.
Want to make sure your wardrobe is animal friendly? VauteCouture, a Brooklyn-based clothing store sells everything from tank tops to winter coats and accessories for both men and women. Founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart started the company in 2009, after attempting to create a vegan dress coat warm enough to get through the cold Chicago (where Hilgart is from) winter. VauteCouture — like "haute couture" but with a V for "vegan" — became the first all-vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week in 2013. Whether you're looking for coats, hats, jewelry or casual clothes, you can find it at VauteCouture. You can shop online, or if you're in New York, you can shop in the store — though you'll have to make an appointment first.
Many fashionable shoes and accessories are made out of animal products like leather and suede, and while most stores sell man-made alternatives, it can be hard to find unique and trendy pieces that are totally vegan and animal-friendly. Olsenhaus, based in New York, is dedicated to creating beautiful shoes, bags and wallets that are 100 percent vegan and to educating people about the leather industry. According to the company's website, Olsenhaus' mission is "to merge passions for design, fashion, function, and being a voice for animals, the environment, transparent business practices and unwavering values in ethical and social responsibilities." Olsenhaus sells shoes for women, men and children as well as a small selection of handbags and wallets, which you can purchase online. Retailers can also purchase the company's products wholesale.
This company proves that veganism and high fashion can go hand in hand. If you want beautiful, animal- and eco-friendly jewelry and handbags, Michelle Leon is the place for you. "We do not use animal products in our work, and our metals, stones and eco-fabrics are pure and in no way harm the environment," the company's website states. "Our metals are never plated, as the plating process is toxic and harmful." Michelle Leon sells handbags, belts and jewelry (in bronze and sterling silver) for both men and women. All of the company's products can be purchased online on its website.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
While most cosmetics don't necessarily contain animal products, many major cosmetics brands test their products on animals, which does not agree with a vegan lifestyle. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics is a makeup brand that is 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free, and is sold online on its website and in major cosmetic stores like Sephora. The brand also has a New York location. The company's products include colored eye, lip and body pencils, nail lacquers, eye shadows, primers, concealers, tinted moisturizers and the company's signature, highly pigmented "lip tar" lip colors, among other products. The company is internationally certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
For beauty and skin care enthusiasts, LUSH is a dream company. The company sells everything from soaps, shaving gels, makeup and face cleansers to lip scrubs, shampoo bars, perfumes and bath bombs. LUSH products are made using natural ingredients like fruits, vegetables, flowers and oils. Everything at LUSH is 100 percent vegetarian, but not every product is totally vegan — some (about 20 percent of them) do include ingredients like lanolin, eggs, milk and honey, while the other 80 percent are strictly vegan, according to the company's website, and all of its vegan products are clearly marked as such. LUSH is also very dedicated to fighting animal testing and all of its products are fresh and handmade — each package (which, by the way, are all recyclable) features a sticker that shows you who made the product, on what date and when to use it by, so you know exactly where your purchases came from.
Coco and Bubbles
You may not realize this, but most candles aren’t vegan. Many candles actually contain stearic acid (which is usually made from animal fat), and luxury candles are often made from beeswax. The good news is, you don't have to stop burning your favorite scents if you're trying to go vegan — you just have to switch to buying more animal-friendly soy candles. Soy candles aren't hard to find, but if you want a wide variety of scents and candle types to choose from, try buying from popular Etsy shop Coco and Bubbles. The shop offers smaller tin candles and larger glass tumbler candles, and they come in scents ranging from basil and herb to banana nut bread (and just about every scent you can think of in between). The candles are eco-friendly, too — they're hand-made from 100 percent soy wax with natural cotton wicks, and the glass tumblers can even be cleaned out and reused as drinking glasses.
So you have plenty of vegan foods to choose from and tons of sustainable cosmetics and fashion options, but what about when it comes to cleaning your home? Planet is a company dedicated to creating sustainable cleaning products like dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent and all-purpose spray cleaner, all of which have minimal impact on the environment and compliment a vegan lifestyle. And Planet has a truly interesting background story — the company was founded by Stefan Jacob, a commercial fisherman who was "gravely concerned about the ever-increasing pollution of our water and soil," according to Planet's website. You can purchase Planet products in some retail locations as well as online at Amazon and Amazon Canada, among other websites.
Updated Feb. 16, 2016.