the-1-questionBeing a baker of vegan foods, I’m often asked this simple question: Why? Why vegan? The answer, has nothing to do with me and everything to do with me. Confusing, I know. Let me explain.

First, let’s clear the air about something: I’m not vegan. I eat pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers w/ bacon and I love all of it. *gasp* I know, I know. Some people may be disappointed by this, but that’s who I am. This is the ‘has nothing to do with me’ part. Many people who don’t know me personally, assume that I am vegan because of my baking and it seems weird to them that someone who doesn’t practice a vegan lifestyle would opt to bake vegan. I didn’t choose to make vegan cakes because of my personal views or lifestyle choices. I chose it because of some close friends/family.

Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? Not the kind in a teen magazine or on Facebook, but those real-deal, in depth questionnaires from Meyers-Briggs? And they give you results that tell you which one of the 16 personality types you have? Stay with me here. Well, I’ve taken them, and the results I get are always the same and they confirm something I’ve always known and didn’t need a test to tell me. I’m a giver. Yep, a certified people-loving, support lending, drive 4 hours to help you move out of your apartment kinda giver. The results of my test said that people with my personality type:

  • “…make things happen for people, and get their best personal satisfaction from that.”
  • “They get their best satisfaction from serving others”

Well! It’s almost like they analyzed my responses to the questions and came up with a profile that uniquely fits me. Ok, that’s exactly what they did. But I digress. The point is, I like to be useful and help people; it’s kinda my thing. So, how does that factor into my baking? Glad you asked! There are some awesome people in my life who are vegan by choice, or have dietary restrictions due to food allergies. They are my ‘why’. When I first started this journey into baking as a business, I would get requests for vegan-friendly cupcakes. It took a little time and effort to research and figure out just how to make that happen and make the resulting cake just as good, if not better, than traditional cake made with milk and eggs. I felt–and still feel–obligated to provide my customers with great tasting vegan food. Why should someone be subject to mediocre, just ‘ehh’ cake simply because they’re vegan? Not on my watch! Cake is fun! You have cake to celebrate achievements and milestones, so it should taste great. I decided that, if I was going to bake for everyone, then my cake would need to be suitable for everyone (or, almost everyone). Veggie Cakes became my way of helping my friends who couldn’t find a decent vegan cake option. See, I told you it was about me too 😉

Now that you know ‘why’, I think it’s time to clarify ‘what’. What is vegan? What does that mean? Does it mean gluten free? Do vegan cakes use sugar? Recently, I’ve seen people try to explain it incorrectly. But, I’m a giver and a helper so let me quickly explain the differences.

Vegan

Vegan cuisine excludes any foods that had a mama. This means, no animal by-products. For baked goods, you won’t find any animal milk, eggs or gelatin (did you know, it’s made from pork?). Substitutes like almond milk, applesauce, banana, etc. can be used in place of these ingredients. Some vegans are extremely strict and will not even use honey because it is made by bees which they consider an animal. I don’t use honey in my recipes for this reason.

What ‘vegan’ does not mean: it doesn’t mean flour-less, sugar free, gluten free or no bake (raw). While there are certainly recipes available to cater to all these needs, a vegan cake or cookies are not automatically a fit for these specific situations. Always ask if your baker offers these varieties; chances are, they do.

Gluten Free

I see this on so many packages of foods nowadays, it’s amazing. People will tell you they are excluding gluten from their diet, but they don’t even know what gluten is. *sigh* Gluten is the name for the proteins you find in wheat based products, such as flour. Gluten has what scientists call ‘viscoelastic properties’. *scratches head* In laymen terms, it means, gluten acts like a glue that holds foods together. Some people, however, have a sensitivity to gluten. People with Celiac disease especially, can suffer damage to their bodies if they eat foods that contain gluten. So, how do you bake a cake without gluten? Using non-wheat flour such as coconut flour, rice flour or a blend of different gluten free varieties.

It’s important to note that baked goods can be gluten free and non-vegan, gluten free and vegan or vegan but not gluten free. Bottom line, if you have a gluten sensitivity, ask for gluten-free cake.

Sugar Free

These cakes and other baked goods are made with sugar substitutes like Stevia instead of white sugar or even raw/turbinado sugar. For people with high-blood sugar (diabetes), it’s important that they watch their sugar intake.

Whew! So, what have we learned today?

  1. I’m a vegan baker because it makes me happy to make others happy.
  2. Vegan, Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free are NOT the same thing.
  3. Cake should taste great and be FUN!

Now, I want to hear from you. I’m going to add an item to the menu this month, but I want to know what YOU want. What are your favorite baked treats? Is it cake? Or, are cookies your go to choice? Maybe donuts? What item would you like to see added to the current Veggie Cakes lineup? Leave your comments below and stay tuned!

-Drea

P.S. – Don’t forget to follow @veggiecakesnyc on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for updates and more photos!