04 December 2012

Vegan shopping at Manhattan Trader Joe's

Hot on the heels of visiting Whole Foods to shop vegan, I headed 2 blocks east to the Trader Joe's on 14th street in Manhattan to see what the vegan deal is there. To be honest, I was really excited, but sadly, Trader Joe's fell short. Let me tell you why.

Upon my arrival, I found tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, pre-prepped fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and great  prices. So far so good.

The next area I browsed was the 5 shelf high stack of bread. Nowhere on any label on the stack did it say vegan, only said Kosher (K) or gluten-free (G). I asked someone who worked there and he said to check the gluten-free bread. Thinking he must have misunderstood, I asked again. And he gave the same answer.

So many things were marked K and G including nuts, frozen vegetables, and rice!

I get the Kosher label as it is a dietary choice like vegan and I understand the gluten-free label as shopping for dietary-specific is easier when labels are apparent. So I was perplexed as to why there was no vegan signage.

There was a small frozen section with a Trader Joe's branded bag of meatballs meatballs marked V for vegan. Exciting. I searched for more, but did not find any. Three Trader Joe's branded products in this section were marked vegetarian.

I approached a Trader Joe's employee named Raymond and asked him why there are no vegan labels. He said, "Well, people can die if they eat gluten, and Kosher is a choice." When I said that vegan was a choice too, he said, "Well, kosher is inherited." That is when I had to educate Raymond on how vegan is a lifestyle choice and is inherited by children of vegans like my son.

Raymond was nice enough to print out a 6-page list of all of the vegan items in the store which is great to have but not easy to shop from.

On my way out, I found the manager, Christian, I explained my reason for being in his store and asked if it would be possible to have vegan labels on the shelves. His response was that signage is already too complicated and "we have the vegan list." I told him I didn't think that list was good enough and shopping for vegans should be as easy as it is for Kosher and gluten-free people. He said he would look into it. I told him I would be back soon to check on things. 

Note: I was told that the labeling and products carried are location specific.

Lisa Dawn Angerame | Blog | Website | Facebook
Long Island, NY Lisa Dawn is an advanced certified Jivamukti yoga teacher, vegan food blogger, wife and mom. She is working hard to spread the vegan love through her cooking, teaching and blog. Lisa Dawn studies and teaches the yoga sutras. She divides her time between NYC and Northport, Long Island. Lisa Dawn is the co founder of NAVA NYC, a meditation and yoga company designed to bring yoga and meditation to corporate clients.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/whoisstan