It seems that every week in the world of vegan food news is more exciting than the last and this week is no exception. NYC’s popular Levain Bakery just released its first vegan cookie (and you can get it delivered nationwide). A new vegan milk chocolate brand—made using Swiss expertise—celebrates all of the plant milks. Meati Foods’ whole-cut vegan chicken breasts and steaks are coming to Sprouts nationwide. And there’s a fun new line of gelatin-free gummies from Katjes. Read on for more. 

1NYC’s Levain Bakery’s first vegan cookie is here

This week marks a historic moment for New York City’s beloved Levain Bakery. It is best known for its hearty, fresh-baked cookies and this week, for the first time in its 28-year history, Levain is launching a vegan version of its most popular treat. 

Founders Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald worked hard to recreate the iconic Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie in a vegan and gluten-free option. Instead of animal products, they used creamy butter made from cashews along with walnuts and semisweet vegan chocolate chips.

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“As one of our core values is ‘welcome all,’ we want to invite everyone into our bakeries for a treat,” the founders said in a statement. “With this new cookie, we’re making good on that vision for those who follow a vegan and gluten-free lifestyle. Next time you visit our bakery, we’re proud to offer you this delicious option.” 

Not able to get to one of Levain’s shops in NYC, Boston, Washington DC, or Chicago? The decadent 6-ounce vegan cookies are available for shipping nationwide. And the shop is expanding to Los Angeles with its first West Coast outlet this year. 

2Gelatin-free “She-roes” gummies

We’re smack dab in the middle of Women’s History Month and European candy brand Katjes is celebrating with vegan gummies in shapes that honor “she-roes” (our favorite kind of heroes). The new gelatin-free gummies come in shapes that put women into roles such as firefighters, astronauts, and scientists, along with messages that celebrate women’s empowerment.

“The product celebrates trailblazing women everywhere,” Eliza Jahn, Head of Marketing at Katjes USA, said in a statement. “It’s a sweet nod to the Sheroes we all know and admire: from our family members and colleagues, to women in the public eye, and even ourselves. We hope to inspire and empower women in our own playful way. After all, if she can dream it, she can do it!”

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VegNews tried a few (or more) of these vegan gummies at trade show Natural Products Expo West this week and we must say, Katjes tribute to women heroes is really a sweet treat. They are also the first time Katjes has explored layering gummy flavors atop a fruity foam which gives the candies an interesting texture and visual appeal. 

Available in Peach, Lemon, Orange, Strawberry, and Raspberry with white and pink Cherry foam, the new Katjes Sheros gummies just hit retailers and can be purchased through the company website. 

3Vegan milk chocolate with many milks

Another great product the VegNews team tried at Expo this week is vegan milk chocolate from newly launched brand LOVO. Married couple Simon Lester and Courtenay Vuchnich created the new brand with the idea of reimagining chocolate by replacing dairy with plant milks using techniques from Switzerland—the birthplace of milk chocolate. 

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What came of their modern concept of milk chocolate is absolute decadence. We tasted LOVO in four different plant milk flavors. The Oat Milk bar had a creamy, lingering consistency that was soft on the palette. The Almond Milk had a nuttier flavor, while the Coconut milk bar was lighter and smoother overall. 

VegNews editors could not get enough of the Hazelnut Milk, a vegan milk chocolate bar that tasted similar to Nutella but without any of the dairy.

The entire LOVO line is available through the company’s website or through Amazon in single flavor or variety packs. 

4A Meati-er vegan meat is coming to stores 

We’ve told you about Colorado company Meati Foods for some time now. Remember a few months ago when we reported on its newly opened Mega Ranch in Thornton, CO where it can produce 45 million pounds of vegan mushroom meat annually? 

Well, this week, we’ve eaten our weight in Meati, which recently got a big thumbs up from forward-thinking chef David Chang. And we couldn’t agree more with the chef about the company’s groundbreaking vegan chicken breasts and steaks—which get their fibrous texture and bite from mycelium, the fast-growing root systems of mushrooms. 

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Want a nibble for yourself? You’re in luck because Meati just announced its wide retail distribution with Sprouts Farmers Market which puts its vegan meats at all 380 locations of the supermarket across 23 states. 

“The high demand for Meati products at our early Sprouts locations in Colorado made it clear that people have been waiting for a differentiated, animal-free protein that tastes great while delivering an outstanding nutritional profile,” Scott Tassani, president and COO of Meati Foods, said in a statement.

“We look forward to continuing to demonstrate how well Meati complements a broad spectrum of preparations, within the weekly rotation for meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike,” Tassani said.

At Sprouts, Meati’s vegan meats are sold frozen in packs of two whole-cut filets in Classic Cutlet, Crispy Cutlet, Classic Steak, and Carne Asada Steak varieties. 

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We thought the Classic Cutlet mimicked chicken breast to a tee and learned it can be marinated, sous vide, and prepared in the exact same way as its animal counterpart but without any downsides. 

5Proper vegan Butterbeer arrives at Universal

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! This week, vegan Butterbeer topping dispensers were installed at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood theme parks. 

Butterbeer has been a staple at Universal’s Harry Potter attractions but the topping could neither be ordered vegan nor left off (due to licensing agreements). However, now, the parks are dispensing a dairy-free topping that allows guests to enjoy an authentic butterbeer without harming animals. 

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The move comes after nonprofit The Protego Foundation launched a campaign in 2018 to demand that butterbeer be made available vegan. “​It’s surreal yet gratifying to know that our hard work campaigning for fully vegan butterbeer for five years has finally made our dream a reality,” Kathryn Henzler, Executive Director of The Protego Foundation, said in a statement. 

“Whether you are vegan for the environment, vegan for the animals, vegan for health, or have a dairy allergy, we can now all indulge in the most iconic Wizarding World treat without contributing to the cruelty that mother cows and their calves face in the dairy industry,” she said. 

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