Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vegan in the Valley

Let's get this out of the way first, I eat meat, dairy, eggs, and wear leather and wool. I always have, and likely, always will. But living in a big city exposed me to a whole new food culture - one where things like tofu, tempeh, and organic grains were readily available at a market two blocks from my apartment, at Whole Foods and at... wait for it... my beloved Trader Joe's. Lots of meat-eaters like me don't bat an eyelash at ordering meat-free dishes at restaurants, so a lot of restaurants responded by featuring them on their menus. People choose a vegan lifestyle for health, environmental and ethical reasons, and I admire their commitment and hearts. I have a few vegan friends and am a sucker for a tasty meal, regardless of whether it features meat or a substitute.

I imagine that living a vegan lifestyle in DC was fairly easy compared to doing it in the Lehigh Valley - lots of options, wide acceptance and understanding, and a large community of fellow vegans for support. In the Lehigh Valley, there are a few organizations, writers and businesses that bring veggies and vegans together and making all of us more educated eaters, shoppers and cooks:

1. Businesses (other than restaurants)
  • Vegan Treats - the inspiration for this blog post because they're planning to expand their operations from a space at 1444 Linden Street in north Bethlehem to a large production facility in Hanover Township at 310 Stoke Park Road - specifically, next-door to Patrick McIvor Salon and Dave's Deli, two other great local businesses. Thanks to Bernie for the tip. Their products are sold in cafes and restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, New York, and Philadelphia, and taste like heaven, even if you're used to the eggs-and-butter varieties. Vegans drive hundreds to miles to make a pilgrimage to VT's tiny HQ for the freshest vegan doughnuts, cupcakes and cookies anywhere.
  • Trainer Barry Lovelace is vegan and a serious fitness professional.
"It is interesting, to say the least, to be a fitness professional and a vegan. So much of the industry is over run with the myth of athletes needing to overload on protein to gain muscle and strength. Visions of muscle-encased men chugging raw eggs is never far from the minds of many people. The flip side of people’s misconceptions is the idea of vegans being pale, emaciated and weak. Barry enjoys dispelling all of these myths by being a man who is very strong, energetic and fit and also a vegan.

2. Bloggers/writers:

  • Save the Kales - Writer and cook Jaimie Karpovich has made quite a name for herself in the Lehigh Valley blogosphere and vegan community. She chronologues her adventures in vegan cooking and baking, enthusiastically shares the things she's passionate about, and blogs about vegan food, inspiration and compassion. If you don't get inspired by her online cooking videos, live cooking demo classes, nutrition consultations and catering, you should start your own blog.
  • Veronika Galvez - This Lehigh Valley mom writes and tweets about vegan life in the Valley (and lots of other stuff, too). In her Examiner piece she profiles a few local vegan-friendly food sources. To that list I'd add Kow Thai in Allentown, Hello Burrito and Petra Mediterranean in Bethlehem, and Balasia at the Allentown Farmers Market.
  • Vegan Jill - Who else do you know that dedicates vegan recipes to musicians?
  • Louzilla Lovegood - Lou's a leader of the vegetarian initiatives on Kutztown University's campus and is a very creative writer and passionate vegan advocate (even in her own home). She put together a list of the Top 10 vegan-friendly restaurants in the Lehigh Valley.
  • Cooking with Anne - Anne is one of my blogging heroes, and in between developing recipes for Disney, raising 7 kids, and teaching cooking classes, she put together a great piece on vegetarianism in the Lehigh Valley, resources, recipes, a list of farmers markets and natural food stores, farms, and more.
  • Sara Hodon wrote a great piece in Lehigh Valley Marketplace about health food stores and other healthy options, filled with great recommendations for vegans and non-vegans alike.
  • LV Eggplant is no longer actively writing since three of the four authors have moved on and the remaining writer moved to Doylestown. Their blog is a great archive of writing about veggie cooking and eating in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

3. Organizations/Groups

  • Lehigh Valley Vegetarians, led by tireless volunteer Len Frankel, meets monthly for pot-luck dinners and social events, and lists veggie-friendly restaurants and links to vegan and vegetarian resources.
  • The Lehigh Valley Food Co-Op offers many vegan options to its members. Members can buy and sell locally-grown food, and buy a wide-range of bulk foods, and staple foods and household goods that are not produced locally.
As always, please share your thoughts, suggestions and what I missed, for the good of other LVTransplant readers.


  1. Q: how do you find a vegan at a dinner party?
    A: don't worry, they'll let you know...

  2. Just a quick note - Balasia is no longer at the Allentown Farmer's Market, but Wendy, the owner and chef does make and serve food at the Allentown Grower's Market on PPL Plaza, as well as the Coopersburg Grower's Market, during the grower's market season.

  3. The Retro Deli just opened in the Moravian Book Shop's restaurant space (they used to be in the Technicolor building). They have five or six vegan and vegetarian options. Which, as a vegetarian/sometimes vegan really is appreciated! It's not everyday I can walk into an eatery and find more than one thing on the menu that I can eat!

  4. Amanda from Apotheca2/09/2011

    Yes Dee at the Retro carries a lot of vegan selections. Try a Vegan BLT i usually get avocado on it, sometimes she even carries Veganaise. She makes slamming Chili and Vegan enchiladas too.
    There are tons of options around the valley. If you ask most places can make you something vegan.
    Nice article Megan!!! I'm going to check out the links to the blogs now.