Sweets: Junk Food, Vegan Style

It's just not as hard to be a vegan these days. For too long, adherents to vegan diets were prevented from any decent indulgence; they were more or less relegated to the produce aisle. But now vegans have options like jelly beans, ice cream, potato chips, cookies, cakes, gummy bears and hot dogs--all tailored to an animal-product-free diet. Whole Foods prepares vegan pudding and chocolate cake and carries vegan cookies. Vegan foods are "a growing category for us," says Perry Abbenante, national grocery coordinator. "Five years ago, there were not that many vegan products, and they were not that good. The people eating them were dedicated."

But isn't one of the benefits of veganism a healthy lifestyle? "These people are taking out eggs and meat and dairy; eating some extra sugar isn't going to cancel that out," says Lauren Farnsworth, general manager of Sacramento, Calif.-based Sun Flour Baking Co., which makes vegan cookies and brownies. "They are taking the cholesterol and saturated fat out of their diet." Ryan Kellner, who owns Mighty O Donuts in Seattle, says response to his vegan treats has been overwhelming. "People need fun food," Kellner says. "You can't work all day; you've got to play a little bit, too. That goes for everybody, vegans and nonvegans alike." Krissi Vandenberg, of the nonprofit group Vegan Action, says, "It is really nice to be able to get online and order rich, decadent vegan truffles on Valentine's Day."

Or much sooner--Krissi, Feb. 14 is nine months away!