VegPalette combines nutrition andconvenience
Looking for an easy way to eat healthy with minimal effort, especially with the arrival of the hectic holiday season? Considering a switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet? Or are you just interested in trying some interesting and delicious new food?
Jenna Carton started VegPalette for all of these reasons. Carton has been a vegan for about eight years and a vegetarian since elementary school, but found that she was struggling to maintain diversity and proper nutrition in her eating habits—a common pitfall for those who switch to veganism, especially a few years ago when there wasn’t as much literature available on the subject.
“Back then, because most dieticians followed the Canadian Food Guide, there wasn’t any room for veganism and it wasn’t really known at that point,” Carton says. “It had a lot of bad stigma attached to it.”
To resolve this, Carton worked with a holistic nutritionist to create herself balanced meal plans, which included the creation of a stash of prepared meals. This habit became the concept for VegPalette: after offering this service to a fellow vegan friend in February 2013, interest began to grow and by May, Carton had opened it up to the public.
Essentially a vegan “meals on wheels,” VegPalette consists of four different meal plans based around different lifestyle options: those who just want lunches for the week can opt for the five-meal Business Lunch plan, while those who want the literal full meal deal can choose the Stress Free plan, which covers their breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole week. The plans are sold in two-week packages, with a one-week trial version also available; customers either pick-up or have their meals delivered on a weekly basis to ensure that they are still getting some fresh meals. Everything comes in reusable containers, so you simply choose which to eat now and which to put in the freezer for later.
“The majority of my clientele aren’t even vegan,” says Carton, who does her cooking and pick ups out of Brittany’s Lounge downtown. “They’re just people who know that eating more plant-based foods is important, and they try to have so many days that are free of animal products—that’s where I come in.”
One might expect the person behind a business like VegPalette to have formal training in cooking and/or a business education, but this isn’t the case. Carton is completely self-taught.
“My parents didn’t take it seriously when I went vegan in high school. They were like, ‘Let’s see how long this lasts,'” Carton notes. “Then when I stuck with it, my mom bought a series of books for me which I’m really grateful for—that’s basically how I learned to cook.”
VegPalette dishes include everything from international fare like chana masala and injera berberé to “veganized” North American dishes like Tex-Mex and beet burgers. Customers can also add individually-priced snacks like zucchini muffins and hemp protein bars to their order. Just in time for the Christmas season, VegPalette is also offering stand alone single dishes, perfect for those upcoming holiday potlucks or to help offset the burden of cooking up a huge holiday feast on your own.
Wherever possible, Carton chooses local, organic and non-GMO ingredients for her made-from-scratch meals, and she already has several customers with various food sensitivities and allergies so she is able to adapt each meal to fit an individual’s needs.
Even if you aren’t interested in pursuing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, there’s no denying that most of us aren’t getting enough veggies in our diets—it’s just not the way most of us grew up eating. Carton hopes VegPalette will help people reinvent their approach to food.
“It’s definitely harder for people that have just spent their whole life with the standard [North] American diet,” she says. “It’s very overwhelming, because you have to start eating a lot of different cultural dishes and moving away from the meat and potatoes.”