Trend toward veganism finds a new niche market: Women

By Hannah Wiley
Medill Reports

In a world of fad diets and constantly changing health trends, vegans want you to know that they’re here to stay. With more plant-based products on the market and alternative options for meat and dairy, veganism grew in popularity in 2017.

According to a Forbes report, plant-based food sales went up 8.1% last year. The report suggests the food and beverage industry should invest in vegan-friendly items, pointing out that the plant-based market is expected to grow to a $5 billion industry by 2020.

An option for those curious about veganism — or others already following the lifestyle — is Vegan Women Made, a market started by Nicole Melanie Davis that features plant-based products. Davis began the marketplace after starting Mindful Indulgences, a confection business that uses only fair-trade and vegan ingredients.

At the Vegan Woman Made pop-up market on Feb. 3 at Links Hall in Roscoe Village, about 200 people showed up to enjoy the baked goods, beauty supplies, artwork and jewelry. All the products are deemed anti-cruelty, vegan-friendly, plant-based and are — as organizers call them — “femme-made.”

Uma Vaiyapuri and Vineeta Santoshi are co-owners of Chutney Devi, a Southern Indian food company. They brought their products to the market to sell on Saturday, and talked about the inspiration behind creating Chutney Devi: combining wholesome ingredients with traditional cooking.

“Growing up in India, we don’t use labels,” Vaiyapuri said. “We just eat.”

Vaiyapuri said she was eager to bring a healthy product to the vegan market, but not because she and Santoshi wanted to capitalize on a health trend. They said they felt it was important to come up with healthy options for their customers.

“When we started this business, we knew we had to bring the healthy aspect without trying to shove it in someone’s face,” Vaiyapuri said. “We’re not trying to be healthy. We’re not trying to be vegan. This is just naturally how it is.”

Photo at top: Vegan products for sale at the Vegan Woman Made pop-up market on Feb. 3 (Hannah Wiley/MEDILL)