Sarah Peltier understands why people make fun of vegans, and vilify them. Some vegans, she says, are so obnoxious that they give the entire vegan community “a bad rap.” She was, she admits, one of those people. But that’s why she works hard to make sure the Vegan Shop-Up, a monthly pop-up market featuring all vegan products, is an open and welcoming place. And there’s another one coming up on April 13th.
Held at the Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick, the event brings together vendors who sell all vegan products. Although the event started off with only a handful of vendors, now that it’s a monthly affair there are dozens of vendors participating This increased participation has led to some fruitful partnerships; Giuseppe from Alchemy Creamery (a vegan ice cream company) told me that they’re partnering up with the vegan cake bakers at Lael Bakery to make an all vegan ice cream cake pop. The vendors met at the Shop-Up; both have been regualrs only since December of last year. The bar itself has an extensive vegan menu, as well as a page-long menu devoted to variations on Bloody Marys.
There are vegan butchers, vegan truffles, and vegan cheeses. One dessert vendor told me that she doesn’t use the word “vegan” on her labels; instead she says “no animal products.” This is because some people have an instinctive reaction against vegan desserts, and won’t even give them a chance. She also stresses the gluten-free aspect of her foods, as that is the largest growing specialty market right now.
Bunna Cafe, the pop up Ethiopian kitchen, is one of the may vendors selling prepared food. One of the highlights of their offerings is something I’ve never eaten before — strips of injera (the spongy flatbread used to scoop up Ethiopian food) soaked in sunflower milk, served cold. Harmony Cafe makes sandwiches with seitan, including a “steak” sandwich with a dynamite horseradish sauce.
It’s not just food that you can find there, though. Some of the vendors are selling animal-free and cruelty-free clothing and beauty products.
Describing the market, Ms. Peltier seems slightly surprised by how quickly it’s taken off. She was inspired by the New Amsterdam Market three years ago, and immediately decided to try and create a vegan version of that. At first the Vegan Shop-Up only had five vendors, friends she had made through her various food-related jobs, and was held every other month. Now a monthly event with 26 vendors signed up for April’s market, she says, “I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted to.” After saying this out loud she looked around at everything happening, as if coming to this realization for the first time. Then she hastened to add that she had no intention of stopping the market. That’s good news for all of us; as I walked around I discovered that most of the attendees were not themselves vegan, and that’s part of the atmosphere that Ms. Peltier worked hard to cultivate. Everyone is welcome.
Vegan Shop-Up — Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan St.
The next Vegan Shop-Up will be held on Saturday, April 13th, 2013.