Vegan product selection in small towns

November 30, 2010

Matt’s newsletter question was, and I quote, “adapting veganism to the deepest darkest burbs.”

There are a lot of ways to take that one, so I’m going to break it into two or three parts.  Today we’ll cover how to deal with a less-varied selection of vegan products, and tomorrow we’ll handle dealing with a less-varied selection of vegans.  Then we’ll cover what Matt actually wanted to know if I’ve missed the mark and he lets me know 🙂

Those of you in smaller towns without 100% vegan grocery stores, or just further away from large cities, now’s a great time to speak up: how are you getting your vegan specialty foods, or do you just stick to whole foods and ignore the processed stuff altogether?  Do you find veganism harder than you’d imagine it to be if you lived elsewhere?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jinkies! December 1, 2010 at 1:39 am

I live in a fairly small city that’s not exceptionally vegan-friendly. It actually works out fine for me foodwise since I try to avoid eating any processed foods. Things like vegan shoes, soap, vitamins, and other items can be difficult or impossible to find here, though. Buying online is typically the only option with those.

My advice for anyone in a similar situation is to learn to cook if you can’t already, and keep trying new foods until you’ve tried them all. Even as a vegan without access to specialty products, you have an amazing variety of foods available to you.

Jason December 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

Oooh Jinkies!

You said something magical in there, but I’m going to be selfish and keep it to myself until Q&A week is done so I can video it up! Thanks for the morning inspiration, top secret though it may be!

Jay December 1, 2010 at 8:55 am

I live in a little village in the outskirts of Quebec, and anyone can tell you, this place is meaty. They don’t even have vegetable ramen!

I usually end up buying mostly vegetables and canned veggies, they have the worlds smallest organic section, but atleast they have one so that I can get soymilk atleast, and they have a little section with veggie dogs and if i’m lucky, ground veggie meat. We usually end up going to neighboring villages that have more variety, or when we visit family in quebec city or montreal, we stock up there as well.

My personal opinion, if you have trouble finding what you need as a vegan, go look in other towns, cities or villages, you never know what you’d find. If worse comes to worst, there’s always online vegan food stores.

Wendy H. December 1, 2010 at 9:56 am

I live in rural Missouri, USA. Grocery options are Wal-Mart, Aldi, and HyVee. The first two offer only produce for the vegan crowd. HyVee, a general grocery store, has a small “health market” section that offers many gluten free options, organic produce, and a few other things like nondairy milks and Bob’s Red Mill. Nonetheless, I generally stick to the basics, because the specialty items, if available, are much more expensive here than other places. About every 2 months I take a 3.5 hour drive to St. Louis, where they have Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, and stock up on things like tempeh, vegenaise, chocolate chips, etc.

Wendy H. December 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I forgot to mention:
There’s practically no place that we can eat out at (unless we have salad with oil and vinegar). Instead, every Sunday night we get together with vegan friends, taking turns cooking for each other. So that is a nice treat. Also, I take advantage of internet bulk shopping on places like We also have a local branch of a whole foods buying co-op that delivers once a month. They have a giant catalog full of lotsa “natural” products. This service, however, was not really advertised, so you may have to ask around and do some digging to find something like this.

Amanda December 1, 2010 at 10:53 pm

My mom was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder of the lungs, which tends to get worse when she eats dairy (causes more phlegm buildup, and she coughs all the time) She is by no means vegan or vegetarian, so she has turned to me for help cutting out all forms of dairy. I live in Seattle, which is a great “hippie” city with vegan specialty stores galore. She lives in rural central Oregon, where the grocery stores seldom sell soy milk, let alone any other vegan staples. So, I bring her stuff from home once a month. She recently brought an empty comtainer of Tofutti non-hydrogenated cream cheese to her local grocer and told him, “Get this for me, I’m DYING!!”…..well, guess what? That grocery store had a couple of Tofutti products the following week. Nothing like a little guilt to get the local grocery on the vegan bandwagon.

Abby December 4, 2010 at 11:50 am

It’s incredibly hard to live in a small town and be a happy vegan. My cheese cravings overwhelm sometimes, and hearing about my boyfriend picking up a great vegan pizza from the huge selection at Whole Foods in NYC makes me entirely envious. However, living where I do has inspired me to get creative with recipes and experiments – the Vegan Uncheese Cookbook is great for this, as well as the internet in general… keep it fresh and new and try lots of different things. You’ll get by just fine, but there’s nothing like living in a city where vegan junk food is aplenty. 🙂

Jason December 5, 2010 at 9:52 am

Abby, cheese sauces with nutritional yeast are the best things in the world! I haven’t looked at the Uncheese Cookbook in a long time, but I’m guessing you’ve got a few recipes for it.

For the rest of you, throw a cup of cashews, a quarter cup of nutritional yeast, a teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder, and half a cup of water in a blender on high. I totally just made up those proportions, so play with it a bit, and add or remove water depending on the consistency you want – you really can’t go wrong!

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