The 2011 Veggie Awards

Our 10th annual list of the very best of all things vegan is finally here! Read on for this year’s reader and editor picks for today’s hottest vegan people, places, and products.


It’s time to celebrate—the 2011 Veggie Awards are here! Months of planning, research, trend-spotting, interviews, and of course, a full month of reader voting—totaling more than one million votes—have culminated in the following list of this year’s brightest stars. Enjoy!

Reader Picks

Favorite Fancy Vegetarian Restaurant:
Millennium (San Francisco)
Favorite Casual Vegetarian Restaurant: Chicago Diner (Chicago)
Favorite Vegan Bakery (storefront): BabyCakes
Favorite Vegan Bakery (online): Sweet & Sara
Favorite Vegan Street Cart: The Vegan Food Truck (Chicago)
Favorite Vegan Cookie: Alternative Baking Company
Favorite Vegan Chocolate: Endangered Species
Favorite Vegan Ice Cream: Coconut Bliss
Favorite Vegan Milk: Almond Breeze
Favorite Tofu: Nasoya
Favorite Vegan Cheese: Daiya
Favorite Veg Meat: Gardein
Favorite Energy Bar: Lärabar
Favorite Condiment: Veganaise
Favorite Tea Company: Tazo
Favorite Vegan Dog Food: Evolution
Favorite Supplement: Vega

Favorite Hair Care:
Favorite Makeup: Bare Escentuals
Favorite Body Care: Kiss My Face
Favorite Shoes: Toms
Favorite Cleaning Product: Seventh Generation

Favorite Vegan Storefront:
MooShoes (NYC)
Favorite Vegan Online Store: Vegan Essentials
Favorite Veg-Friendly City: New York City
Favorite Farmed Animal Sanctuary: Farm Sanctuary (NY and CA)

People & Media
Favorite Celebrity:
Ellen DeGeneres
Favorite Cookbook Authors: Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
Favorite Website:
Favorite Blog: FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Favorite Nonprofit Vegan Organization: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Favorite Nonprofit Animal Organization: Humane Society of the United States

Favorite Issue:
The Food Issue
Favorite Column: Veganize It! (Allison Rivers Samson)
What You Love Most About VegNews: VegNews Magazine
Favorite Blog: Café VegNews

Editor Picks

Person of the Year: Kathy Freston
This author and activist had quite a year. Her book’s a best-seller, her Twitter account and Huffington Post blog posts are active and educational, Vanity Fair writer John Helipern committed to going veg after just one lunch with her, and she appeared not only on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but helped a family adopt a vegan diet on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, chatted veganism on The Martha Stewart Show with fellow activists Biz Stone and Gene Baur, and talked shop on Charlie Rose.

Restaurant of the Year: Native Foods Café
With 17 years in business, 12 thriving locations (with dozens more in development), and 2 million meals served in 2011 alone, Native Foods Café, has gone from vegan eatery to national dining sensation. What makes Native Foods Café unique? Everything is made from scratch (including seven types of seitan), nothing on the menu is more than $10, and each location is customized to its neighborhood. Our hat goes off to this venerable institution for not only perfecting vegan cuisine, but also taking it to the masses unlike any other.

Company of the Year: BabyCakes
In 2011, our hat goes off to BabyCakes, the venerable gluten-free, vegan bakery that got its start just six years ago in New York City’s Lower East Side. Fast forward to today, and Erin McKenna’s flourishing empire has outposts in four locations, two cookbooks, a brilliant online presence, and a cult-like following that can’t get enough of the bakery’s agave-sweetened brownies and spelt red velvet cupcakes. We can’t wait to see what it does next.

Product of the Year: Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread
Can we even imagine a life before 1998 when GFA Brands introduced Earth Balance and changed the course of vegan baked goods forever? We’d rather not. So our beating (cholesterol-free) hearts were stilled when we experienced the company’s newest addition—Organic Coconut Spread—at Natural Products Expo West. Rich and decadent with a slight coconut flavor, this condiment deliciously tops everything from French toast to baked potatoes.

Book of the Year: Whitewash
Joseph Keon’s Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health is “the best book written on the subject” according to none other than John Robbins, who knows a thing or two about the dairy industry. Keon’s doctorate in nutrition gives Whitewash indisputable credibility, while the thoroughness of research should be irrefutable evidence to anyone not making milk mustache ads or on the payroll of the National Dairy Council to get off the bovine beverage.

Cookbook of the Year: The Candle 79 Cookbook
There are no two ways about it: The Candle 79 Cookbook is stunning. Reading through the book feels like settling into one of the restaurant’s comfortable booths, as the warmth and hospitality of its authors ooze out. Co-authored by Co-owner Joy Pierson, Executive Chef Angel Ramos, and Pastry Chef Jorge Pineda, the cookbook bursts with all of Candle 79’s signature recipes. Yes, the Chimichurri Seitan, Seitan Piccata, and Spaghetti and Wheat Balls are all there, just waiting to be made.

Movie of the Year: Forks Over Knives
It might be sacrilegious to mention evangelist Jim Bakker and Real Time’s Bill Maher in the same sentence, but both are true believers of Forks Over Knives. The film follows writer/director Lee Fulkerson and others on a journey to health through a plant-based diet, inspired by the lifetime works of T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn. A companion book made The New York Times best-seller list, the DVD is now available for purchase and digital streaming, and more videos are in the works.

Nonprofit of the Year: Mercy for Animals
Since being named VegNews’ Nonprofit of the Year in 2006, Mercy for Animals has done nothing but explode, fast-tracking a vision of animal protection’s promising future to the present. In 2011 alone, MFA opened a new office; released undercover video which garnered widespread media coverage; released the DVD Farm to Fridge; hosted spectacular events; erected pro-veg billboards and staged vegan “feed-ins” nationwide; and strengthened coalitions to ban farmed-animal cruelty. All from an organization with 70,000 supporters and an annual budget of just $1.5 million.

Vegan Lovefest
What do you get when you bring together 250 vegan bloggers in what may be the world’s most vegan friendly city? A 24/7 vegan lovefest you have to experience to believe—and the first-ever Vida Vegan Blogger Conference. The event was packed with panel discussions, workshops, cooking demos, buffet breakfasts, a cocktail hour, food outings, a film screening, and a dress-up gala. See what we mean about one big party?

Indie Media Powerhouse
What happens when talent combines with passionate activism? Our Hen House. Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, the unstoppable duo behind the online media hub and self- described “wannabe pundits,” cover every aspect of the vegan lifestyle, from blog posts about the latest research on nutrition to profiles of artists who incorporate vegan themes into their work, as well as podcasts featuring activists of every possible stripe and dazzling videos of interviews and events. Here at VegNews, we’re huge fans.

Mainstream Men
This year, mainstream writers Mark Bittman (The New York Times), B.R. Myers (The Atlantic), Grant Butler (The Oregonian), and Bryan Walsh ( filled paper and web pages with inspections of factory farming, support for increased food safety, cutting critiques of the nation’s foodie phenomena, the Humane Society of the United States and United Egg Producers’ historic hen-standards agreement, and much more. We think Time said it best when they tweeted, “Vegans have a point. Sorry, meat eaters.”

Queso Loco
Anyone who’s interested in being a nacho, nacho man (or woman) can now choose from among outrageously good options like Nacho Mom’s, Food for Lovers, Nacheez, or Teese. VN Editor-at-Large Laura Hooper Beck raved on about Food for Lovers’ vegan queso, saying, “It is a miracle of food science! We live in a truly blessed time, fellow vegans.” We couldn’t agree more.

Silver Anniversary Award
For a quarter-century, Farm Sanctuary has been rehabilitating animals who live out their lives on farms in New York and California and served as ambassadors for the more than 10 billion land animals slaughtered annually for food in the US alone. Now led by Co-founder Gene Baur and National Shelter Director Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary has grown from its humble beginnings with the rescue of a lone sheep into an $8 million organization with more than 250,000 supporters and 900 animals. Kudos on 25 years.

Caramel Craze
Caramel has officially hit the milk-free masses. Let us count the ways: salted vanilla caramels from Allison’s Gourmet, caramel pecan turtles from Obsessive Confection Disorder (we can relate), espresso coconut caramels from JJ’s Sweets, caramel agave dipping nectar from The Real Food Trading Company (just try not to eat this by the spoonful), and chocolate caramel candy bars from Sjaak’s. We’re not sure what kicked off this revolutionary food trend, but we couldn’t be happier.

Failure of the Year
In 2011, four states (Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New York) attempted to make it illegal to film undercover footage on farms, and the quadruplet is now in the legislative graveyard. The bills were considered an attempt by powerful agricultural interest groups and their friends to protect the industry, and opponents say the work of undercover investigators is essential, as it leads to stricter animal-protection laws and is a form of whistle blowing that should be protected.

The Fun Funding Award
Without the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, we wouldn’t have three vegan food trucks, two documentaries, a handful of bakeries, and a vegan podcast. This year, more than 15 vegan music, film, art, publishing, and food projects turned to Kickstarter to fund their vegan businesses. And as consumers and supporters of these projects, the public is able to vote with their dollar and dictate what we see, eat, and read with their donations, which might be the best news of all.

The Roll of the Dice Award
Ryan Henn believes that vegan men face a lot of unique challenges, as they are stereotypically expected to conform to an image of the meat-eating muscle-head in order to be considered masculine. So, as any activist would, Henn got to work dispelling the myth of men and meat by creating Vegans in Vegas: Bachelor Party 2011. Held in the increasingly veg-friendly Sin City, home of hotel magnate (and vegan) Steve Wynn, the event featured lectures, vegan meals, poker lessons, and more.

Shop Explosion
Cruelty-free shopping has never been easier, thanks to a new crop of vegan shops opening up online and in a town near you. Three entirely vegan grocery stores—Vegan Freak in Denton, TX; Vegilicious in Dortmund, Germany; and Viva La Vegan in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. In addition to the 100-percent vegan grocery store trio, other vegan shops opened up from coast to coast (not to mention online): Cookbook author Sarah Kramer’s Sarah’s Place in Victoria, BC; Brave GentleMan, Joshua Katcher’s shop for dapper vegan gents; Brooklyn’s pop-up Vegan Shop Up; and Vegan Beauty Market all make it easy to shop cruelty-free.

The “It” Vegetable
Kale was everywhere in 2011—magazines, television shows, blogs, and celebrities could not get enough of the green stuff. Who loves this leafy vegetable? Actress Portia de Rossi, Al Roker, Men’s Fitness, Real Simple, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and New York magazine, for a start. Packed with vitamins, potassium, iron, and fiber, and low in calories, this trendy veggie can be made into salads, chips, pesto, wraps, smoothies, and more. Here at VegNews, we can’t get enough.

Totally Tubular
Vegans took over the boob tube this year, appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Martha Stewart Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and many more. Former President Bill Clinton talked to CNN about his mostly plant-based diet; Seattle-based Mighty-O Donuts was crowned Food Network’s Donut Champion; Sticky Fingers Bakery appeared on Cupcake Wars twice; vegan food truck Seabirds competed on The Great Food Truck Race; Ayinde Howell popped up on Bravo’s Rocco’s Dinner Party; and Isa Chandra Moskowitz took travelers through Portland on The Cooking Channel. And in October, an entirely vegan cooking show The Jazzy Vegetarian debuted on public television. Get that DVR ready.

For complete features on all of our 2011 Veggie Award winners, pick up the November+December 2011 issue here!

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