We’re in the middle of a charcuterie renaissance. Platters of meats, cheeses, and fruits have been enjoyed since Europe’s Middle Ages, but in the last few years, charcuterie boards have seen a social media-driven revival. They are more extravagant, more beautiful, and more delicious than ever before—especially when they’re vegan.

In their traditional format, charcuterie boards are far from vegan-friendly (the word “charcuterie” literally translates to cooked flesh). But like everything in 2023, these meat- and cheese-laden platters are not without their vegan counterpart. Los Angeles-based Nibel, launched by married couple Lucas Dudley and Lubomir Jordan earlier this year, offers arguably some of the most aesthetically pleasing charcuterie on Instagram, and they’re all made with 100 percent plant-based ingredients.

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Introducing Nibel: vegan, cruelty-free, stunning charcuterie

On TikTok, videos with titles like “Charcuterie Board Goals,” “The Ultimate Charcuterie Board,” and “My Boujee Board,” have millions of views, as content creators compete to make the most aesthetically pleasing spread. Research also suggests that more than 50 percent of Americans now understand what a charcuterie board actually is, which is up 15 percent from 2021. And of those who have tried them, around three-quarters say they enjoyed the experience.

Dudley and Jordan were early adopters of the charcuterie board revival; they were fans of the sharing platter long before they decided to go vegan. But four years ago, after they adopted their dog Lemon, they no longer saw indulging in traditional charcuterie meats and cheeses as an enjoyable experience. “Animals in food were no longer appealing to us,” they told VegNews. But they weren’t ready to let go of charcuterie completely.

“We had taken a trip to Big Sur, and wanted to enjoy a picnic with some charcuterie and wine,” they said. “So we researched and put together some plant-based meats and cheeses and created our own vegan charcuterie board while enjoying the ocean views. It dawned on us that there was a big deficiency in the vegan charcuterie market.”

That was the first step towards creating Nibel, which now offers two variations of vegan charcuterie board for delivery in Los Angeles. There’s Noir, which is designed for two people to enjoy, and is “dark, sophisticated, and layered, with fruit and smoke elements” and Blanc, which can cater to up to 10 people, and is “light, energetic, and pure, with sour notes and salty elements.” Both can be made gluten-free and will be delivered to your door, presented in a box.

With the brand’s charcuterie, the flavor and presentation are just as important as its overarching message: indulgence doesn’t have to involve animals. 

“We envision a world where choosing plant-based isn’t seen as a sacrifice but rather as a culinary adventure with intentional and nourishing options. Our motto has always been, ‘You can’t argue with love,’ and some of the most compassionate people don’t eat animals,” the co-founders said.

We spoke with the co-founders to find out more about Nibel, their plans for the future of the brand, and their top tips for creating your own vegan charcuterie board from home.

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VegNews: Nibel creates beautiful, aesthetically pleasing vegan charcuterie boards. But of course, the quality and flavor of the ingredients are important, too. How do you select the right products?

Lucas Dudley and Lubomir Jordan: We have tried and taste-tested almost every vegan cheese and meat there is. We focus on quality and craftsmanship, and our partners make products in small batches with lots of love and intention. It was also very important to us to celebrate feedback from all nibblers on what cheese flavors and textures they prefer. Our biggest learning lesson was the feedback from non-vegans!

VN: Charcuterie has, of course, been around for centuries, and so as it is increasing in popularity again now, many have preconceived ideas about what it should look and taste like. How do you address misconceptions about the flavor and variety of vegan charcuterie?

LD and LJ: We believe making a change is to disrupt the narrative and offer a different perspective. Recreating what is traditionally considered the least animal-friendly dish, meat and cheese, and flipping it to serve conscious eaters. We wanted to keep the traditional French-style sense of charcuterie and offer the same satisfaction but with one main guideline: everything is cruelty-free. We work with amazing vendors that offer elevated vegan varieties of meats and cheeses, such as truffle brie, sharp cheddar, smokey gouda, aged blue, and much more. We definitely wanted to break the misconception that vegan options tend to be mostly unexciting vegetables. 

VN: Nibel’s charcuterie boards are definitely far from unexciting. Is the creative element just as important to you as the taste?

LD and LJ: It’s definitely an integral part of the narrative we share with our customers—a story of creativity, sustainability, and the joy of savoring delicious, plant-based meals. As a couple deeply immersed in art, fashion, and design, we see cooking as an extension of our artistic endeavors where colors and textures come together.

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VN: We can’t wait to see where this journey takes you. Can you tell us what’s next for you and Nibel?

LD and LJ: The possibilities really are endless. While we’re keeping some of our exciting development under wraps to maintain an element of surprise, we can share a glimpse into our future endeavors. We are actively exploring opportunities to expand our infrastructure. Our focus is on finding partners who align, and share our commitment to sustainability, creativity, and the transformative power of plant-based living. Additionally, we are thrilled to embark on a journey of creating our own in-house brand. Starting with food, we aim to craft an experience that extends beyond the edible, engaging all the senses.

How to create your own vegan charcuterie board: Lucas and Lubomir’s top tips

If you’re feeling inspired, you can, of course, treat yourself to one of Nibel’s vegan boards. But if you want to experiment yourself, too, the co-founders are more than happy to offer their expert advice. “We can confidently say texture, color, and contrast in flavor are the secret tricks to a very appealing and elevated spread,” the co-founders say. Here are some of their top tips for creating the best vegan charcuterie board your friends and loved ones have ever seen or tasted.

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1 Contrast flavors

“By contrast in flavor, we mean sweet to salty ratio. What makes traditional charcuterie great is the high flavor contrast of sweet fruits and jams paired with savory cheeses, olives, cornichons, etc.”

2 Think about color and texture

“A veiny aged blue cheese is very sexy when paired with dark grapes and maroon flowers or bluish thistle and botany. On the flip side, a creamy gouda is beautiful when decorated with herb stems and deep green florals.”

3 Have fun with it

“We come from a design and art background so we treat each box as such! Playing with colors and adding florals will make any charcuterie spread the star of the party. It tells an edible story and the fun part about putting flavors and textures and color together is that you get to write it.”

For more on how to create your own delicious, vegan spread, follow our guide to the ultimate vegan charcuterie board.

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