Get Hygge for the Holidays!

Welcome to our annual Buy Vegan / Buy Local holiday post! Before we get to the shopping, I just want to remind you that newcomers and nonvegans – and you! – are especially welcome at our upcoming Thanksliving potluck, Holiday Party, and other events! More info.

For a gift they’ll thank you for all winter long, think hygge! Pronounced “hoo-guh,” it’s the Danish word for something that helps you stay warm and comfy and cozy, especially during cold weather. Our area’s premier Scandinavian superstore, GiftLoft Furniture, is offering a Vegan Holiday Hygge Bundle that includes:

  • Mulled Winter Glogg (1 liter, non-alcoholic, serve warm!)
  • Lingonberry Preserves (14 oz.) and
  • Ginger Cookies ( 17 oz. in a decorative tin), plus
  • Six 100% vegan Swedish candles

A $51.55 value; now just $39.95 plus tax.

Also, mention “Vegan Kalamazoo” for 20% off colorful (and giftworthy) Laurel Burch fabric bags and totes. Offers valid thru Saturday, Dec 23, 2017. For more information

GiftLoft Furniture (269-329-0800, is located on Romence Road, right next to the D&W.  Plenty of free parking, and gift wrapping is always free and cheerfully provided! So come get your Vegan Hygge on!

From hygge to health…a Natural Health Center Buyers Club membership is another great gift that keeps on giving. Purchase discounted vegan foods and supplements, and if you don’t earn your membership fee back in discounts, NHC will refund the difference! $107 per year, $60 for six months or $35 for three months. NHC is at 4610 W Main Street (corner Drake), with lots of free parking. 269-342-9459. More info.

Don’t forget that Natural Health Center, Sawall, and People’s Food Coop – along with Earth Fare and Trader Joe’s – offer many wonderful vegan foods, cosmetics, and skincare products that also make good gifts.

Or, give a gift certificate from one of our area’s many vegan-friendly restaurants.

Or, donate in someone’s name to one of our local animal rescue / sanctuary organizations, including the Kalamazoo Humane Society, All Species Kinship, and Sasha Farm Sanctuary.

Finally, if you’re entertaining or being entertained, don’t forget:

Natural Health Center, Sawall, and People’s Food Coop all offer great selections of vegan cheeses and other snacks. (We especially recommend Miyoko’s, Treeline, and Violife cheeses.)

Tiffany’s Wine and Spirits offers vegan wines, and vegan Bailey’s Almonde Irish Cream Liqueur (yum!), as well as several brands of gourmet vegan chocolate bars.

Confections with Convictions makes their own fancy chocolates, and offers several vegan choices. (They also do great community job training work.)

Yummy Opes Cookies, baked right here in Kalamazoo, are always appreciated!

That’s this year’s list! If you have any recommendations of your own, please post them on our Facebook group.

Happy holidays and looking forward to even more great vegan options next year!

The Growth of the Vegan Market – Some Citations

Investors worth trillions are putting pressure on food companies
to serve more fake meat

Tyson AND Cargill
"Investing money in plant-based proteins is the smart move right now. 
Today’s consumers are — more than ever before — turning to plants as a 
primary source of protein. As of 2012, sales of meat alternatives reached 
an impressive $553 million. The sector is expected to grow to a 
staggering $5.17 billion by 2020."

"But slipping a meat imitator into the meat section goes beyond a single company—
it marks an inflection point for a fast-growing new food industry that wants to
 deliver the protein-rich foods consumers want and need without involving a 
live animal. Not long ago, the prospect of infiltrating the meat section 
was a wild dream for companies working on plant- and lab-based meats. In breaking 
that barrier, Beyond Meat has opened the window for massive disruption of the 
traditional meat industry."

A 2016 Harris poll found that 3.3% of U.S. adults are vegetarian, and around 
half of those (1.6%) are vegan. However, in the 18­-34 year old group, the numbers 
rise to 5.3% vegetarian of whom 2.6% are vegan.

Lab-grown meat (some debate on how vegan this really is, but it does solve 
many problems associated with meat production)

Nondairy Milk Sales Soar; Dairy Milk Plummeting

Googletrends "vegan"

10 Reasons To Attend Sunday’s Intro to Vegan Essential Oils Class!

Here are 10 reasons you’ll want to attend our Intro to Vegan Essential Oils class this Sunday afternoon (6/11) at 2:00 p.m. at GiftLoft Furniture (551 Romence Road, D&W Shopping Center, Portage):

1) All the oils we discuss will be vegan. (This would probably not be the case at other essential oil events.)

2) You will learn about 11 of the most versatile and popular oils. Interested in a chemical-free lifestyle, optimizing emotional and spiritual health, and toxic-free cleaning? You can begin that journey by learning about the who, what, where, when, why, and how of essential oils in a fun and naturally animal-product-free and cruelty-free way!

3) The class will be for both beginning and experienced essential oils users. Beginners: you’ll get a wonderful introduction. Experienced people: you’ll almost certainly learn some new tips.

4) Our teacher, Emma Giffels, is owner of Essential to Emma, which offers essential oil solutions to health-minded people in Kalamazoo and beyond. Emma is a two-year vegan, a twenty-year resident of Kalamazoo, and a member of Vegan Kalamazoo! About a year ago she discovered Young Living Essential Oils and ever since has been immersing herself in aromatherapy and how vegans can use it to improve their physical and mental well-being. Emma’s other interests include travel and hiking.

5) The class will be held at GiftLoft Furniture, owned by Vegan Kalamazoo advisory committee member Sandy Neal, and located conveniently in the D&W / AAA shopping center on Romence Road, Portage, with LOTS of parking. GiftLoft is a lovely, airy space filled with wonderful furniture, furnishings, and collectibles from Scandinavian and beyond.

6) Essential Oils are for guys, too! So you gentlemen should attend!

7) Young Living Oils are, according to Emma, “beyond organic.” She adds: “Young Living NEVER uses pesticides or conventional fertilizers. Their plants are hand weeded and fertilized with essential oils. USDA regulations say that for organic crops, soil must be free from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and GMOs for three years, but Young Living beats that, producing in soil free from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and GMOs for five years.”

8) There is absolutely no obligation to purchase.

9) We’ll have free vegan snacks. And…

10) We’ll have door prizes!

More info / RSVP here. Space is limited so RSVP now, and please keep your RSVP up to date so others don’t miss out.

As always, at Vegan Kalamazoo events, everyone is welcome, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. Newcomers are especially welcome. (And this is a great event to bring your nonvegan friend to!) However, out of respect for our mission, we request that you only purchase/consume vegan foods and other items at this event.

A lovely and inspiring class in a lovely and inspiring setting PLUS free vegan nibbles, door prizes, and no obligation to buy. I can’t imagine a pleasanter way to spend a summer afternoon, so please join us!

Where to Buy the Best Fruit In and Around Kalamazoo

Right in time for fruit season, here’s a great overview of where to get the best local fruit from Vegan Kalamazoo member and permaculturalist PJ Chmiel:

  • My favorite is grow-your-own! We don’t have a “farm,” but have planted a very diverse permaculture orchard that is inspired by nature and creates food, habitat and medicine for humans and wildlife alike. Our aim is to grow vegan staple foods in a no-till, wildlife-friendly system—chestnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, oaks, in addition to dozens of kinds of fruit and semi-wild vegetables. Not everyone has the luxury of having several acres of land, but even on a small urban lot, growing your own is easier than you might think and very rewarding.

    For local farms, these are some of my favorites, look for them at the local Farmers Markets or contact them directly: Bonamego Farms (they don’t really deal in animal products and have a wonderful variety of chemical-free (and foraged!) veggies and mushrooms; Walker’s Fresh Veggies – CSA Farm in Paw Paw has a nice roadside stand and also goes light on the chemicals; EarthSmith Food and Forest Products raise animals but they are one of the most ecologically-minded farms in the area. Josh and Kerry are in the early stages of having an awesome ecological farm with blueberries and other lesser-known fruits, primarily for Josh to use in his wonderful creations as a vegan chef. Earthen Heart and Joe’s Blues of Moss Funnel Farms offer no-spray blueberries as well. Elder Fire Farm Arts makes amazing jams and fermented foods and are dear friends of mine. Blue Dog Family Farm grows awesome kale and other greens. Molter Family Orchards is one of the only certified-organic orchards in the region, also great people, though they’re more toward Lake Michigan and not so much in Kzoo.

    Above all, visit farmers markets, get to know people, visit the farms, see how they do things. It’s a LOT of work growing food for market, most farmers are just barely making it financially and have to work insane hours. I know I’m forgetting a lot of people here, but this is a good start.

Reprinted here with permission–thanks, PJ! His comment, by the way, was originally published on the Vegan Kalamazoo Facebook Group, where you’ll find more than 570 of your fellow Southwest Michigan vegans and vegan-friendly folk, and all kinds of useful recipes and tips. So please join us. (We were even cited as a news source by K1025 radio when they reported on the new Trader Joe’s that’s coming to Kzoo!)

Can You Host a Vegan Exchange Student?

Whitney Oosting, Area Michigan Coordinator for the ASSE Exchange Program, is looking for host families for two VEGAN foreign students who will be attending high school in our area next year. Please see the below info, and contact Whitney directly at 616-889-7861 or for more info.

As a former foster mom of four Sudanese teenaged refugees I know first-hand how wonderful and enriching an experience it is to host a foreign student, and I agree with Whitney that, now more than ever, such cross-cultural exchange is needed. So I hope a few people reading this will contact Whitney!


From Whitney:

Becoming a host family has been one of the most rewarding adventure ever.  In today’s world cross-cultural ties are of utmost importance.  Students from all over the world come to study here in America.  They not only learn from our culture but give us the opportunity to learn about theirs.  They bring such a desire to connect with us, to learn from us and to give back.  Through sharing experiences together we find that we are all the same, no matter what nationality, race or religion.  Students bring that not only to the family where they live but to their school and community.  The result is acceptance of each others differences and the spreading of world peace one child at a time.

RIMA (15 years old, from Germany)

Interests: I enjoy drawing, reading, singing, cooking, going for walks, and playing the piano – TM

Hello, My name is Rina and I am 15 years old. I love in a very small city in Germany with mother, father, and younger sister. I am currently in 10th grade. My school is pretty small with 800 students. My favorite subjects are chemistry, biology, and art. In the future I would like to continue to study art. I am very kind, smart, creative, polite, fun person. I am very good at adjusting to new situations which will be helpful during my exchange student year. In my free time I love drawing, listening to Beyoncé, and reading. Most days you will never see me without a book in my hands. Something else I like to do in my free time is go grocery shopping, having sleepovers, and watching movies. I also like to go to the gym with my friends. On the weekends we spend time together as a family such as going out to eat, or a walk in the woods. I really enjoy nature. I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, but I am very happy to prepare my own meals and I l ove to cook. I hope I have given you a good impression of my life and I cannot wait to learn about your family. I will be very glad to spend a year in the United States with you and cannot wait to meet you!

Marharyta (16 years old, from Ukraine)

Interests: Swimming, listening to music, fitness, reading, drawing, playing the guitar, science, watching movies, aerobics, volleyball, boxing, theater

Marharyta is a FLEX scholarship student from Ukraine. She is the only child of her small but loving family. She enjoys going on picnics and gong to the seaside with her mother and father. She, of course, also helps them with their chores and cooking. Rita considers herself a vegan, although she respects everyone’s ideas. She knows that everyone has their own version of the world. This is one of the major reasons she wants to be an exchange student; to see others’ perspectives and cultures. She is excited to see other places beyond her comfort zone. She would like to share her love of music, reading and science with her new host family and friends. She loves to study science and might consider it as her career! Rita thanks you for considering to host her and is excited to meet you!

Texas Township and Paw Paw and Dowagiac – Oh My!

In the next few months, Vegan Kalamazoo will be holding or promoting events in (count ’em!) Texas Township, Dowagiac, Hastings, Paw Paw, and South Haven. Yup! Interest in veganism is everywhere, and that’s why my new favorite hashtag is #veganeverywhere!

There’s no reason southwest Michigan – with its savvy, health conscious population and great agricultural gifts – can’t be one of the U.S.’s premier vegan locales.

We’ll also be participating in the upcoming Kalamazoo Foodways Symposium (April 7-8), Earth Day (April 22), the Kalamazoo Dog Walk & K9 Festival (May 6), Kalamazoo Marathon (May 7) , and other events. Your suggestions for events we can participate in are *always* welcome, as is your assistance with tabling, workshops, etc. (Email me!)

See you at our events! Remember: everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores, is always welcome at our events, although we ask that you purchase / consume only vegan food out of respect for our mission. Most events are free except for cost of restaurant food, movies, etc. Remember, also, that our group is the best place to stay on top of our events. Meetup is free and simple to join. (Instructions for joining here.)

A Movie That Changed My Life

About 14 years ago, I walked into a movie screening hoping to be entertained, informed, and maybe inspired.
What I didn’t expect was that I would be veganized.

But that’s exactly what happened.

The movie’s depiction of the suffering of the animals and people involved in animal agriculture, coupled with its profound message of transformation and hope, literally opened my mind and heart. I remember exiting the movie in a kind of daze; then calling my partner and telling him, “I’m vegan.”

That movie was the acclaimed Peaceable Kingdom by producers Tribe of Heart. This Thursday, Vegan Kalamazoo and the Natural Health Center are screening the updated version, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. The screening is FREE and NHC is providing free yummy vegan popcorn. So come, and bring a friend! But two warnings:

(1) Bring your Kleenex, and
(2) Be prepared for possible change.

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home
Thursday, February 16
6:30 pm – 8:00 p.m.
Natural Health Center
4610 W Main St, Kalamazoo (NE corner of West Main & Drake) – plenty of parking
More info / preregister on Meetup.

Next month we will be showing another Tribe of Heart classic, The Witness. The stars and setting of this one couldn’t be more different from those of Peaceable Kingdom. Instead of rural farmers learning to love the cows and other beings they formerly exploited for profit, we have a tough-guy construction worker in New York City who, through his relationship with his cat, evolves to become an animal activist.

The Witness
Sunday, March 12
1:00 pm – 2:30 p.m.
Natural Health Center
4610 W Main St, Kalamazoo (NE corner of West Main & Drake) – plenty of parking
More info / preregister on Meetup.

Also in March, we’re having a Coffee Social at the sunny and cheerful Coexist Cafe (2901 Howard St, near WMU) and a Gourmet Pizza Party at Sawall’s excellent new Cafe 36! More info on Meetup. As always, at Vegan Kalamazoo events, everyone is welcome, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. However, out of respect for our mission, we request that you only order / consume vegan food at this event. Newcomers are especially welcome!

Eight Easy and Delicious Ways to Eat More Veggies in 2017

Nutrition-packed vegan diets have been shown to prevent or fight obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And, if you’re worried about protein, don’t! Vegan diets give you plenty. In fact, The American Dietetic Association says veg diets are appropriate for, “individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

And, of course, when you eat vegan, you’re not only helping yourself; you’re helping the the planet (animal agriculture being a major contributor to climate change), and the animals. It’s a win/win/win!

Fortunately, we’re living in a kind of golden age of veganism. Every month, we’re seeing amazing new products and restaurant options, whether it’s nonallergenic milk made from pea protein, the “Impossible Burger,” which even trained chefs can’t distinguish from beef, and Miyoko’s Kitchen’s delicious, melty, cashew-based mozzarella.

Below are eight easy, nutritious, and delicious tips for adding more plants to your diet. You can buy many of these products at any supermarket, but you’ll find the best selections at Natural Health Center (West Main), Sawall’s (Oakland), The People’s Food Coop (downtown), and Earth Fare (Westnedge).

1) Follow in the footsteps of 7-Eleven and many other institutions, and ditch the egg-based mayo. Plant-based options such as Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo and Follow Your Heart’s Vegannaise give you all the taste and texture, with fewer of the calories and none of the cholesterol. (Wasn’t that easy?)

2) Replace eggs in cooking and baking with apple sauce, flax seeds, a banana, silken tofu, or a product like Ener-G. (Google for expert techniques, or check out a cookbook.) Oh, and pancakes and waffles work just fine without eggs. (Add some nuts or vegan protein powder for more oomph.) And don’t forget the nondairy milk…which reminds me…

3) Join the nondairy club! Nearly half of all Americans now drink at least some nondairy milk every day. (Source: Mintel, April 2016.) So, the next time you stop by Biggby Coffee or Water Street Coffee Joint—not to mention, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks—ask for soy, almond, or coconut for your latte. (Smooooth!) At home, have fun trying out the many flavors and varieties of soy, almond, cashew, hemp, coconut, and pea-based milks. (My household uses vanilla-flavored soy for coffee, and cashew for everything else, including baking.)

4) Shop, and dine, ethnic! Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern are three great cuisines with LOTS of vegan options. (Also, check the “ethnic foods” aisle of your supermarket.)

5) Try the new generation of plant-based meat replacements, like Gardein, Morningstar, and Beyond Meat. Seriously, they’re amazing! Low calorie, and (in some cases) low sodium and non-soy. On busy days just pop one in a toaster oven, or throw it in a casserole, sauce, or stir-fry, for a nutritious and comfy main course. (You’ll find them in the freezer section of your local supermarket.)

6) Swap out the superfluous. Many breads, snacks, condiments, and other packaged foods contain small amounts of dairy or egg you’d never miss if they were gone. Fortunately, most products’ allergy labeling now makes these unwanted ingredients easy to spot so you can choose another brand. (And many now sport a big, friendly V-for-Vegan label!)

7) Google is your friend. Google “vegan _____,” filling in the name of your favorite food. You will be amazed at what’s out there.

8) Last but definitely not least, check out your friendly, neighborhood vegan group. Everyone, regardless of what they eat, is always welcome at Vegan Kalamazoo events, including potluck dinners, restaurant outings, walks, parties, cooking classes, and other great events. You’ll meet great people and get great recipes and cooking tips. (There are also veg groups in Grand Rapids, Holland/Lakeshore, and Niles.)

About the author: Hillary Rettig is cofounder and organizer of Vegan Kalamazoo, whose motto is, “Yes, there really is a VEGAN Kalamazoo!” She also writes, teaches, and coaches in the area of creative productivity and entrepreneurship. She lives in Kalamazoo’s Stuart Neighborhood with her partner, a Kalamazoo College physics professor, and their rescue dog, Billy, a fifteen-pound pomeranian with a thirty-pound attitude. Contact her any time at .