Congrats to those of you on the home stretch to completing the “Veganuary” challenge! According to the website of Veganuary, the U.K.-based nonprofit that started the worldwide event, more than 250,000 people were expected to participate this year.
For some of you, an unexpected part about the challenge may be how much you have to explain to others what “vegan” means — I know I’m doing that a lot. Remember that many people are still unclear what “vegetarian” means. I’ve had to explain to a surprising number of people that no, chicken isn’t included in that diet.
Even the definitions of those terms can be unclear, and vary depending on who is responding. Some vegans believe the label means you don’t wear clothing made from animals; others don’t follow that. Some self-declared vegetarians eat eggs, although many believe eggs are meat.
In the end, they are all labels, and they shouldn’t define us. Our own actions and beliefs are what matter — how others perceive us is just their opinion.
No matter where your vegan experiment, resolution, life change or workplace contest takes you, hopefully you learned something and helped educate others.
I will also use my last “Veganuary” column as a reminder to consider eating locally whenever possible. That means considering “where the ‘sausage’” is made.
Although some Northland residents gripe that we don’t get some of the products, stores and restaurants that (usually) bigger cities have, we have a solid and growing number of small farms and other businesses that sell food year-round. This is by no means a comprehensive list — just a sampling of some that I enjoy.
Ruth’s Vegetarian Gourmet
Products: Frozen vegan meatless balls as well as vegetarian products.
Where it’s made: A former Pizza Hut building in Two Harbors.
Where you can find it: Stores and restaurants in Duluth, Hermantown, Two Harbors, Cloquet and Poplar.
Its story: This family-run company started production in 2018. Its recipes are inspired by Doris Ruth, who has been cooking vegetarian food for decades. Ruth’s customers also include schools and hospitals.
Superior Small Batch
Products: Frozen vegan burgers and sausage; now offering plant-based meal boxes.
Where it’s made: Commercial kitchen at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Superior.
Where you can find it: Online; stores and restaurants in Duluth, Two Harbors, Cloquet, Superior, Twin Cities, other locations in Greater Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Its story: Another young company that just started in the past few years, Superior Small Batch first manufactured its products at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland, Minn.
Products: Tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce.
Where it’s grown: Greenhouse in Superior.
Where you can find it: Online; year-round at stores in Superior, Duluth, Two Harbors, Cloquet and Grand Rapids; pick up at its greenhouse.
Its story: Bay Produce is operated by the Challenge Center Inc., which provides vocational services for people with developmental disabilities.
Tiny Farm Duluth
Products: Microgreens and salad mix.
Where it’s grown: Duluth farm.
Where you can find it: Year-round at Duluth-area stores.
Its story: After being laid off from a corporate job, Eddy Gilmore pursued his dream of becoming a farmer at age 40 and started Tiny Farm Duluth in 2016.
Veganuary 2019 by the numbers
- More than 250,000 people from 159 countries, a 49% increase from 2018. The 2020 campaign goal is more than 350,000.
- 87% were women.
- Ages: 25-34 (28%), 18-24 (22%), 35-44 (21%).
- Reasons for signing up: health (46%), animals (34%), environment (12%).
- Before participating in Veganuary, 44% said they were omnivores; 23%, vegan; 17%, vegetarian; and 16%, pescatarian.
- 60% of those surveyed said the challenge was easier than expected.
- 51% of those surveyed who decided to stay vegan said the decision was influenced “by the discovery of great-tasting food.”
Katie Rohman is managing editor of the News Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 218-723-5334.