From brightly hued Cheetos to nostalgic Cheez-It crackers, cheesy snacks have long been an American staple. And while vegans have enjoyed dairy-free iterations, there’s one plant-based cheese snack climbing its way to the top. Enter: Every Body Eat. 

A Chicago-based vegan brand, Every Body Eat is rapidly gaining a cult following with its Cheese-Less Thins. Free from the top 14 allergens plus corn, Every Body Eat’s Cheese-Less Thins get their signature cheesy flavor from just eight simple ingredients such as potato starch, brown rice flour, garlic, white pepper, paprika, and sea salt. 

The vegan cheese crackers first launched at 28 Chicago-area locations of Whole Foods Market, before Every Body Eat expanded its partnership with the grocery store chain and landed in 56 locations across the Midwest, ultimately catapulting it to the top of the cheesy snack category in the region. 

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Last year, Every Body Eat’s Cheese-Less Thins were named one of Whole Foods’ best-selling cheese snacks in the Midwest. But unlike the grocery store chain’s other best-selling cheese snacks, Every Body Eat’s cheesy crackers are the only ones that do not contain dairy. 

For Every Body Eat, creating healthy, wholesome snacks that anyone—regardless of diet—can enjoy is of utmost importance. “Everything that we’re doing is to try to make it easier for people with special diets to eat—whether that means being vegan, having food allergies, or having an autoimmune disease, like I do,” co-founder and CEO Patricia “Trish” Thomas tells VegNews. 

Vegan snacks for all 

For Thomas, creating vegan, allergen-friendly snacks was personal. A serial entrepreneur, Thomas suddenly found herself feeling fatigued and experiencing hair loss after the birth of her son. Undiagnosed at the time, she didn’t realize it was an autoimmune disease that was making her feel ill.

“I just thought that having kids made you tired. I didn’t know there was anything wrong,” Thomas says. After shrimp and red wine put her in an ambulance, Thomas jumped headfirst into research and realized she felt significantly better when she avoided dairy, corn, and gluten in her diet. 

“I could no longer eat the same food as the people I loved,” she says.

“We used to entertain all the time and have people over, and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t eat what my family was eating even at dinner, or I had to change the whole menu. I got really used to cooking in a way that allowed people to customize based on what their diet is.”

But it wasn’t until Thomas met Every Body Eat co-founder Nichole Wilson that the idea for the company first came to fruition. After meeting at a book fair at their children’s school, Thomas invited Wilson over for a conversation, and served up some snacks that Wilson found less than appealing. “We just started working together on another business idea, and I served [Wilson] some really bad food, and she said, ‘You eat this stuff? It’s not good,’” Thomas says. 

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Initially, the duo was working on a technology platform that aimed to make eating easier for people on special diets. However, when it came to adding allergen-friendly foods onto the platform, they found that nothing met their standards. 

“Our requirements [for the platform] were that everything had to come from healthy, whole-food ingredients, have healthy fats, no sugar—and we couldn’t find anything to put on it,” Thomas says. “We literally had four or five products [on the platform].” 

The co-founders decided to pivot and create their own allergen-friendly healthy snacks that everyone could enjoy. 

Vegan food for the greater good 

Every Body Eat aims to make eating easier, healthier, and tastier for its consumers. Beyond food, the company is also ensuring everyone has a seat at the table. 

Eighty percent of the company’s workforce are people of color. Additionally, 65 percent of its production team has been impacted by the judicial system, and 20 percent were previously homeless. 

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And the company boasts a near 100-percent employee retention rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, losing just one employee who chose to pursue a career in music. 

“We’ve been able to create a place where people want to work,” Thomas says. “Our mission is to give everybody a seat at the table, literally and figuratively. We’re doing it with our food, and we’re doing it with our people.”

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