The world can be a cruel place for vegans.
They’re forced to eat just the sides at dinner parties and are exhausted from carrying the weight of moral superiority. Finally, they have a place to call home. Veganz, the world’s first all-vegan supermarket chain, will be opening later this year in Portland, Oregon.
Veganz fits Portland like a glove.
The city is already home to an all-vegan strip mall, a vegan tattoo parlor, a vegan donut shop, and a vegan colon hydrotherapy clinic (don’t ask). There’s even a vegan strip club where you can enjoy a bowl of lentil soup while the strippers perform, and you’re assured that none are wearing clothing made of fur, leather, feathers, or wool. A vegan supermarket? You have to wonder what took them so long.
The five-year old supermarket chain opened its first store in Berlin. It now has locations throughout Germany and has pushed into Austria and the Czech Republic. In 2016 Veganz stores will open in London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen, and of course Portland.
Since whole, unprocessed, animal-free foods are well represented in mainstream markets, Veganz instead emphasizes the processed side of veganism, filling its shelves with food analogs. There are fake cheeses, fake meats and fish, egg substitutes, dairy-free ice creams and baked goods, and of course plenty of meatless German-style wursts and schnitzels. The chain’s merchandisers are sourcing from 30 countries to assemble this range of products.
Less than 1% of the U.S. population chooses a vegan lifestyle, fewer than 4% follow an exclusively vegetarian diet, but between a third (older consumers) and a half (millennials) of Americans fall somewhere on the flexitarian spectrum. Many are half-time, Michael Pollan-styled vegans following his prescriptive VB6 schedule of meat-free eating just until 6 PM.
I’m sure there are Portland vegans and vegetarians who will be thrilled to have a hometown Veganz.
The store’s analog offerings can satisfy their hunger for the meat-ish foods that are missing from their diets. But most of us, with veg-friendly but flexible diets are not so hard up, and faux and processed meat- and dairy-like substances just won’t cut it. Animal welfare and environmental factors are part of the equation, but most people who eschew a meat-based diet do so for reasons of health and wellness.
We might have different moral comfort zones, but we’re all looking for balance, variety, and satisfaction.