Sweet & Sara Gives the Vegan Marshmallow Dish
VegNews' co-founder Colleen Holland sits down with Sara Sohn, the mastermind behind what may be the Holy Grail of veganism: the marshmallow.
There's no doubt that Sara Sohn has conquered the vegan marshmallow. Launching her business, Sweet & Sara, just five years ago, she now churns out gelatin-free marshmallows, s'mores, macaroons, and biscotti for stores around the country. Creating the world's first vegan marshmallow was no small feat—it took more than 100 rounds and 10 months to perfect the technique. With unwavering family support and a new 7,000 square-foot marshmallow factory in Queens, NY, this vegan businesswoman is just getting started. VegNews visited with Sohn in New York to hear her story.
VegNews: How did you come up with the idea to start a vegan marshmallow company?
Sara Sohn: I realized I was just one of the countless number of people who really missed rice crispy treats and no one was doing anything about it.
VN: Your family is very important to you and your company. How are they involved?
SS: You mean besides being loyal taste testers? My parents are the most hardworking, supportive people in the world. Mom's super tiny but she's got super strength. She does everything from putting sticker labels on all the products, to helping out in the kitchen, to running up and down four flights to get the mail, to feeding our staff. Dad is the handyman and fixes everything and anything in the factory, and believe me, there's never a day where something does not need repair. My sister makes sure all the orders get packed efficiently and is the peacemaker when my parents and I squabble about who forgot to water the plants. She is also the genius behind our brand name.
VN: When did you go vegan?
SS: This month, I celebrate 19 years of being vegan. At the age of 12, I fell in love with a little bunny named Skipper—she was my baby, and she completely changed the way I viewed animals. A year later, I happened to pass by an animal-rights table and what caught my attention were these graphic photos of rabbits that had undergone horrific experiments. The pictures were awful and my heart really hurt, and my life would never be the same. The next day I became veg, and vegan a year later.
VN: What are some unique ways to eat vegan marshmallows?
SS: I know several people who will only eat our s'more pies out of the freezer, as they transform into a cold, chewy, delightful treat. Many people also love heating the s'mores in the microwave or oven and although they will look intact, once you take a bite, you get a nice gooey marshmallow mess. You can also dip the strawberry marshmallows in chocolate for a nice chocolate-covered-strawberry dessert.
VN: OK, we're officially drooling. Are you working on any new desserts?
SS: We just came out with some non-marshmallow vegan treats—macaroons, cinnamon-hazelnut biscotti, and double-chocolate-mocha-almond biscotti. I am trying to create vegan confections that no one else makes.
VN: Where do you see veganism going in the next 10 years?
SS: We've come so far. Nineteen years ago, I thought I would be living on brown soymilk and carob bars forever. Now, it's so easy to be vegan and people are very accepting of it. In 10 years, no one will ask, "Why vegan?"
VN: What's been the highlight of your journey this far?
SS: Although I am not rich in funds, I am rich in the heart with the most unbelievably supportive friends and family. Another highlight would be the fact that our vegan marshmallows have been so widely accepted by the mainstream. We've been on the Food Network, CNBC, and the Rachael Ray show. We've been mentioned in Martha Stewart's Weddings magazine, the Korean edition of Forbes, and Time Out New York Kids. I can't make the world go vegan overnight but I do have an influence and can affect the way people eat—one marshmallow at a time.
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