It seems that every week in the world of vegan food news is more exciting than the last and this week is no exception. Modern dairy brand Betterland Foods announced a new candy bar line that is remaking the classics, starting with vegan versions of Snickers and Milky Way. Cold-brew is getting its own specialized creamer thanks to Califia Farms. And celeb chef Spike Mendelsohn is unstoppable as he expands his vegan fast-food chain PLNT Burger across NYC and beyond. Read on for more.
1Cow-Free “Snickers” and “Milky Way”
Entrepreneur Lizanne Falsetto knows a good opportunity when she sees it and founded nutrition brand think! in 1995 to fill a need for portable nutrition—a category that has since grown to $4.5 billion. For her next venture, Falsetto sees promise in creating dairy without exploiting cows.
In March, Falsetto unveiled betterland foods, a modern dairy brand powered by Perfect Day’s animal-free whey—which the company makes through precision fermentation. Now, she is making moves to recreate some of the world’s most popular candy bars with a line extension called “WOO.” Thus far, WOO bars have been released in Salty Peanut (think Snickers bar) and Creamy Nougat (a take on the Milky Way).
“Think! revolutionized the protein bar industry,” Falsetto said in a statement. “Now, betterland foods is transforming the snacking experience for health-conscious consumers, with two times the protein, one-third the sugar, and no tradeoffs on nutrition or taste. We’re upgrading traditional layered chocolate bars like Milky Way and Snickers, whose formulations haven’t changed in more than 50 years.”
Falsetto’s WOO bars are making their debut during a time when chocolate giant Mars—maker of Snickers and Milky Way—is getting into animal-free dairy, too. Also made with Perfect Day’s animal-free whey, Mars test launched CO2COA bars earlier this year. The bars are a simple, smooth vegan milk chocolate that is reminiscent of Dove bars. Is Mars remaking Snickers and Milky Way with animal-free whey, too? Only time will tell.
2Dairy-free creamer made for cold brew
Most creamers are developed for hot coffee and we’ve had a love/hate relationship with vegan ones depending on how much they curdle. Dairy-free brand Califia Farms is side-stepping that whole issue all together and taking on a new category: vegan creamers designed specifically for cold coffee. But cold coffee won’t curdle your creamer, you say? True but ice dilutes its flavor and the acidity of coffee still breaks it down.
Formulated to satisfy work-from-home lifestyles and summer’s cold coffee cravings, Califia is solving these problems with its new line of Iced Café Mixers made with a blend of oat and almond milks and available in Vanilla Sweet Crème and Caramel Crème flavors.
“Gen Z and millennials drink iced coffee throughout the day and all year round, and we saw an opportunity to develop a groundbreaking product to better meet their needs,” Suzanne Ginestro, Chief Marketing Officer at Califia Farms, said in a statement. “These Iced Café Mixers allow them to enjoy their iced coffee to the very last drop with absolutely no compromise on flavor, creaminess, or whitening.”
The new creamers come in 25.4-ounce bottles and are priced at $4.89 each.
33D-printed protein bars
In a world where just about anything from shoes to skincare can be customized on demand, UK-based brand Nourished found one area that could use a little help: protein bars. Founded by award-winning entrepreneur and registered nutritionist Melissa Snover, Nourished delivers a fully custom protein bar experience by giving customers the opportunity to explore 400 combinations which start with a base flavor such as Apple, Raspberry, Chocolate Sauce, or Salted Caramel that is then topped with a layer of protein such as Crunchy Butterscotch, Espresso Crunch, or Roasted Hazelnuts. The entire bar is then enrobed in your choice of milk or white chocolate coating—all vegan, of course. The finished bar is low in sugar (less than 2.5 grams) and features at least 18 grams of protein.
This product launch comes after Nourished brought custom layered vegan gummy vitamins to market and uses the same 3D-printed technology. The brand launched in the UK in early 2020 and expanded to the United States several months later. Its products are available through its website as a one-time purchase or at a discounted rate through a recurring subscription.
4PLNT Burger grows in NYC
Celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn—an alum of Bravo’s Top Chef—is forging ahead with plans to open new locations of his vegan fast-food chain PLNT Burger all over NYC. A collaboration between Mendelsohn and Seth Goldman (former executive chairman of Beyond Meat), the chain planted its roots inside a Whole Foods Market in Silver Spring, MD in 2019 serving all the American comfort classics—burgers, chicken sandwiches, milkshakes, and fries—but made vegan (and fabulous) with Mendelsohn’s culinary expertise.
In January, PLNT entered NYC with its first standalone location outside of Whole Foods in the Union Square neighborhood. This week, the vegan chain is opening its second NYC outpost in the Flatiron NoMad district of Manhattan which will serve as its NYC flagship. “This is our first store nationwide to be spacious enough to host events surrounding the plant-based movement while enjoying classic comfort foods that are delicious, nutritious, and planet-friendly,” Mendelsohn said in a statement.
The chain is getting a warm welcome from city officials—including NYC Mayor Eric Adams, a vocal proponent of the plant-based diet—who see the business as an asset to the neighborhood. “It’s very exciting to watch NoMad’s ongoing evolution into a destination for a wide variety of plant-based dining options,” said Flatiron Nomad President James Meetham. “We’re thrilled to welcome Chef Spike and the PLNT Burger team to the district, and equally excited for our residents, workforce and visitors to experience it on Broadway’s NoMad Piazza.”
By 2023, PLNT aims to operate 30 locations and outposts in Bryant Park and Williamsburg will be next to open.
And if you’re in town today looking for some free food, Plantega—an initiative that’s veganizing bodegas across NYC—is giving away sandwiches and quesadillas filled with Daring Foods’ plant-based chicken. Head to the Plantega location inside American Choice Gourmet Deli (218 Broadway in Brooklyn) and tell them VegNews sent you (or, it’s free, so just get there before supplies run out).
For the latest vegan news, read:
Did ‘Celebs on Sandwiches’ Predict Lizzo’s Love of Vegan Plantain Burgers?
How This Startup Is Making Vegan Oysters in Shells to Save the Oceans
Why Turkey Burgers are Having a Moment