During all of August, you can visit several local eateries, try a special dish, then vote on it as part of the Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge. This is the second year the challenge has taken place here, though it originally started elsewhere in 2011.
The lovely humans at Compassionate Action for Animals are the driving force behind the Twin Cities challenge, and you can find all the details atexploreveg.org/tcvcc
It’s starting to feel like a new boxed vegan mac and cheese is released on a weekly basis. I’ve been doing my darndest to keep up, but there are still several I haven’t tried yet. However, I’ve tasted a good number of them, and here are my honest thoughts. I’ll start with my favorite and move down the line to my least favorite. If you know of one not mentioned, please include it in the comments.
My parameters are that it has to come in a box (Leahey comes in a bag, but it’s similar in size and shape to the boxes), and the sauce has to come in a packet, whether powder or as an actual sauce. Pretty much all of these are unique in taste and/or texture, so what I like may not be the same as what you like.
I first tried Miss Garrett’s Vegan Soul in October 2019 and was immediately drawn into the obvious love and care she puts into her food. Aaliyah currently operates out of her home in NE Minneapolis but is fundraising for a physical location. She shares this on the GoFundMe page:
VegNews assembled an awesome list of Black Vegan Instagrammers and I thought we could use a list exclusive to the Twin Cities. Now more than ever, it’s important to listen to as well as #amplifymelanatedvoices so if you’re in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area and want to support local Black vegans, here’s a place to start.
This is not a comprehensive list, so if you know of others to add, please mention them in the comments.
PLNT BSD has been a Twin Cities fixture for several years with their apparel line. They’ve sold at Twin Cities Veg Fest, Vegan Invasion, and smaller events around town. You can purchase their apparel online as well. I have one of their hoodies and it’s probably the softest thing in my closet.
Their new iteration is PLNT BSD Smoothie Bowls, which operated out of a cute little cart last year, and now has a more permanent home in the heart of downtown White Bear Lake. Currently, they’re open Friday through Sunday from 8am-2pm, and they offer curbside pick up exclusively for the forseeable future.
After closing up shop a couple weeks before our shelter-in-place order went into effect, Reverie is now open again and they’re offering curbside pick up. For now, they’re open daily from 4-8pm with a somewhat limited menu, but I’m sure those will expand over time.
Be sure to read the detailed information posted on their ordering page so you know what to expect when you place your order and when you arrive. Select from appetizers, entrees, and dessert. They even have beer and wine, and you can purchase a meal to donate to healthcare workers.
Restaurants and other businesses, like distilleries, have had to make adaptations to their operations to help them get through this time of sheltering in place. I saw that Lawless Distilling was offering make-your-own cocktail kits and couldn’t resist picking up a couple.
Vegan Essentialsis an online vegan grocer and retailer based out of Waukesha, WI. They’ve been operating since 1997, and they’re a fantastic resource for vegan goodies. The stock rotates and refreshes frequently, and especially right now, many products are listed as sold out. Browsing their site is like exploring a treasure trove, and if you find something you want that’s sold out, you can submit your email address to be notified when it’s restocked.
Reducing waste is a process. I finally started composting when I found out that Saint Paul has a free drop off spot, and I recently welcomed a bidet into my life. So when the co-founder of theotherstraw reached out to me about reviewing their bamboo utensils, I happily took them up on the offer.
Theotherstraw is an Australian company that initially only offered bamboo straws, but as you can see above, they’ve since expanded their line to include utensils as well as coconut bowls. They chose bamboo because it grows quickly and is incredibly environmentally-friendly. The products are organic, dishwasher safe, and once you’re done with them (in several years, most likely), you can compost them.