Imagine this: You come home after a long hard day to find a delicious box of preservative-free, non-GMO, already assembled plant-based meals waiting on your doorstep. No mess, no cleanup, all you have to do is reheat and eat. That’s the vision of Mark Fachler and Monica Klausner, a brother-sister duo who created Veestro, a bistro-style plant-based meal delivery service that’s been amazing customers in the U.S. since 2013. In fact, business has been so good, it’s grown 300% each year, enabling the pair to secure $1.5 million in financing for immediate expansion.
Available online, Veestro’s hand-crafted, locally sourced dishes include such culinary inventions as Tuscan Calzone with vegan mozzarella, Thai Chick’n Stew with seitan and Chocolate Covered Cheezcake with organic tofu. Propelled by such reviews as “truly outstanding,” “incredibly delicious” and “cooked to perfection,” Veestro has just been chosen as a finalist in the VegNews magazine’s annual Veggie Awards for “Favorite Vegan Meal Delivery Service.”
Recently we sat down with Mark and Monica to find out why Veestro is so appealing to folks looking for a convenient, yet healthy way to eat less meat.
How did you and your brother come together in this business and what gap did you notice in the food industry that inspired you to create Veestro?
Veestro was Mark’s idea and it was one of those moments when you just say: ‘Why can’t there be X in the market? The idea for Veestro was born out of a personal need. Mark used to work as an investment banker. So, as you can imagine, he worked very long hours and rarely had time to cook. He was always a healthy guy and after several trips down the frozen food aisle and way too many frozen pizzas, he decided to do something about it. We researched the market and realized there was a real need for a convenient way to have delicious and healthy meals that were plant based. We also realized that people are generally intimidated by the thought of eating more plants because they think the food will be bland, hard to make or even boring! So we set out to create delicious meals that are 100% plant based and delivered straight to your door anywhere within the U.S.
We read that you grew up “appreciating the value of a home-cooked meal.” Were you vegetarian/vegan as children or did you go through personal transformations as adults?
We grew up in Costa Rica and all our meals were made from scratch with mainly vegetables and fruits, so eating veggies has always been a big part of our lives. We eat plenty of veggies because we love them – not because we ‘have to.’ So eating a plant-based diet was not a difficult transition for us. Mark and I believe in balance and that means different things to different people. Our mission is to help everyone eat more plants so they can have better health and, therefore, more balance in their lives.
How do you source your food to be organic and GMO-free?
When we started the business, we sourced all our ingredients from local organic farms that we were able to visit. As the business grew, we found a more efficient way to source large quantities for organic and GMO-free ingredients.
How did you develop your special menus and what inspired you to include weight loss and cleansing plans?
We have an amazingly talented chef that creates all our recipes. Once we decide which recipes will make it into the menu, we then look at the nutritional makeup of the meals and ‘tweak’ them accordingly. Food has to be delicious – that’s most important – so we always start with the flavor profile. The weight loss program and juice cleanses were developed in collaboration with plant-based nutritionists.
Since launching Veestro, you’ve experienced such great growth. What do you attribute your success to?
Our mission at Veestro is to provide delicious plant-based food and outstanding customer service. Because that has been our focus, word of mouth is the biggest reason we have experienced great growth. Our customers have been very diligent at providing honest reviews and they’ve generously shared the Veestro love.
What do you see as the benefits of Meatless Monday?
Meatless Monday is a great way for people to ‘dip their toes’ into a different way of eating. For many people, going vegan seems like an enormously intimidating venture, but starting slowly by ‘ditching’ the meat one day per week is a very easy way to try something new without a big commitment. I love the idea behind Meatless Monday because it reinforces the importance of balance. And, it makes the prospect of a healthier lifestyle feel attainable. ‘One day at a time’ is what I say.
Do you personally have any favorite dishes among your offerings?
Definitely! Although I have to say that I’m hard-pressed to pick only one! Right now I’m totally craving the Tuscan Calzone, Spinach Pie and our newest meal, the Black Bean Pasta Alfredo. However, if you asked me the same question last week, I would have chosen the Red Curry, Golden Chickpea Stew and Three Layer Scramble. I think I have about 12 meals I like to eat very often, but then I’ll crave something I haven’t had in a while and fall in love with that dish all over again. I can tell you this: there isn’t a single meal on our menu that I don’t like… the ones we don’t like never make it on the menu!
Meatless Monday is excited to announce our partnership with Matthew Kenney Cuisine. This collaboration was formed to advance the knowledge and enjoyment of plant-based cuisine worldwide, leading to healthier lives and a more sustainable environment. Chefs Matthew Kenney and Scott Winegard will join Meatless Monday as Chef Ambassadors.
Matthew Kenney is recognized as a world leader in raw, plant-based cuisine. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, he’s authored a dozen cook books, owns several high profile restaurants and operates raw food culinary academies around the globe – from Venice Beach, CA to Belfast, ME to Miami, FL. In addition to being twice nominated for James Beard awards, Kenny has delivered two TEDx talks, including “Crafting the Future of Food.”
Joining Kenney is Scott Winegard, the Executive Chef for Matthew Kenney Cuisine. For the last 12 years, he’s worked closely with Kenney in exploring new raw food concepts and preparation techniques. Winegard has also worked under Chef Rene Redzepi in Denmark at Noma, which has been named the world’s #1 restaurant numerous times.
To celebrate the joining of two world leaders in plant-based cuisine, Meatless Monday is now featured at Matthew Kenny Cuisine’s renowned restaurants – MAKE OUT in Culver City, CA, Double Zero in New York City and both Plant Food + Wine locations in Miami, FL and Venice, CA. Kenney has created a three-course Meatless Monday tasting menu, including some of his most beloved dishes, such as zucchini lasagna, smoked hummus and his famous cheesecake.
In addition, Kenney’s current passion project is a four-week plant-based Food Future educational course held in Manhattan, the first time he has brought classroom programming to the Big Apple. The curriculum focuses on innovative ideas, methods and philosophies that are currently shaping global culinary cuisine. Each week during this course, students will hear from special guests in the plant-based and sustainable world.
One of these guest presenters was Meatless Monday President Peggy Neu, who discussed the vital importance of reducing meat consumption as well as the success of the global Meatless Monday movement. The Food Future session was rounded out by a Meatless Monday Quick-Fire Challenge, where students had to reinterpret traditional dishes turning them into plant-based raw recipes.
With extraordinary submissions from all 18 student chefs, the judges awarded first, second and third place prizes to their favorite dishes.
Stay tuned for these recipes in the coming weeks and check out this video of the Meatless Monday Challenge:
The positive impact of Meatless Monday is high on the menu at the eighth annual World Health Summit in Berlin, Germany. From October 9th – 11th, more than 250 international leaders from over 80 countries will gather to discuss the latest strategic developments in healthcare.
To demonstrate their support of Meatless Monday, the summit participants will be served a meat-free lunch. This meal pairs perfectly with the summit’s session on “Planetary Health,” which explores the long-term health implications of environmental changes on food and agriculture.
We’re heartened to see our efforts recognized on a global stage and we’re delighted to share this news with you.
Meatless Monday was started in 2003. Today, we’re active in 44 countries and in over 20 languages. Eating meat-free meals just one day a week not only benefits the environment, but also helps reduce the risk of chronic preventable disease.
Thank you for your help. Together, we’ll do a world of good.
Fall is a prime time for enjoying ripe, fresh-picked vegetables and fruits. What’s more, it’s also Vegetarian Awareness Month, the perfect chance to acquaint yourself with the beans, greens, grains, nuts and seeds that make meatless meals so delicious.
And it’s easy join the fun. Just choose to put more plants on your plate this month. For instance, you could go Meatless Monday each week. Or explore new vegetarian or vegan recipes. Or maybe challenge yourself to do a full month of meatless meals.
All through October, we’ll be sharing insightful infographics, tasty recipe videos, plus lots of other goodies that show how nourishing and delicious it is put more plants on your plate.
Our Vegtoberfest Fav’s
Not sure which plants to add to your plate? Get started with these flavorful seasonal picks.
Beets – You can’t beat beets in the fall. Stay with the classic reddish purple color or try white, golden or even multicolored beets. Roast them tender for their betaine – a compound that may help prevent liver and heart disease.
Pumpkins – A perfect choice for all the right reasons – luscious soups, delectable pies, even toasted pumpkin seeds. They’re a great source of alpha- and beta-carotene, which can be converted into retinol to promote cell growth and healthy vision.
Sweet Potatoes – Fall is when sweet potato flavor is at its peak. Imagine the fresh-baked aroma coming out of your oven. They’re also a good source of vitamin C. Who needs orange juice?
Apples – Yes, we know they’re a fruit. But this time of year, a basket full of fresh-orchard apples is simply irresistible. Sweet and crunchy, they’re also packed with antioxidants that may help slow aging and prevent chronic illness.
What’s Your Vegtoberfest Story?
We want to hear it! Tell us how and why you’re choosing to put more plants on your plate this month by posting your photo and story on social media with the hashtag #Vegtoberfest. Let the whole world know you’re all in on Vegtoberfest – and invite your friends to join in, too.
ON FACEBOOK: Visit the Vegtoberfest tab on the Oldways Facebook page and submit your photo and story.
ON INSTAGRAM & TWITTER: Simply post your photo and story with the tag #Vegtoberfest!
For all of the latest updates on Vegtoberfest, plus more ways to get involved, visit the official page here.
Known as “the City of the Trees,” Sacramento has a deep and abiding respect for nature. This was further evidenced last week when city officials declared the first day of the week to now be known as Meatless Monday, encouraging its residents to choose meat-free dishes on that day.
The announcement coincided with the grand opening of their new sports/concert venue, the Golden 1 Center, on Oct. 4th. Sir Paul McCartney will perform the inaugural concert. The world-famous musician is a “vocal” supporter of Meatless Mondays and founder of Meat-Free Mondays in the U.K.
A week-long “Farm to Fork” celebration preceded the city declaration. Twenty-two local restaurants now serve a Meatless Monday menu. There was also a sixth annual Sacramento Vegan Chef Challenge where guests could dine on locally grown, plant-based cuisine from over 25 competing chefs and restaurants.
If you like what you’ve read, we’d like to hear from you. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook. Also, if your friends are interested in eating healthier, please forward this post. Let’s grow the Meatless Monday movement.
September is National Mushroom Month, so to “cap” it off we’re celebrating with a round-up of delish meatless mushroom recipes from our from our Meatless Monday bloggers. Whether you’re noshing on pasta, tacos, salad. stir-fry, stew or beyond, mushrooms lend that ever-so-satisfying umami flavor, so try out one of these recipes for your next Meatless Monday meal.
There is a reason why so many people crave meat.
When our ancestors first started eating animal flesh on the African savannas 2.5-million years ago, their food options were extremely limited. For our hungry ancestors, meat had two things, in particular, that were a godsend: fat and protein. Today, our tongues are still attuned to detecting the calorie-loaded fat and the “umami” taste that signifies that a food is abundant in protein. The reason why we love the taste of meats, such as fried bacon or grilled burgers, is the Maillard reaction: the browning that occurs when we cook some foods in high temperatures. To the tongues of our ancestors, the flavors of the Maillard reaction signified that a food had been cooked and thus safer to eat. But even though we no longer need meat for its protein and fat, and indeed we have better ways of knowing that food is safe than relying on the the Maillard reaction, our taste buds obviously didn’t get the memo. They keep pushing us towards pork and beef.
To make Meatless Monday easier and more fun, here are a few tips on how we can satisfy our outdated taste buds without meat, from Marta Zaraska, science journalist and author of Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Years Obsession With Meat who has also published in the Washington Post, Scientific American, and The Atlantic.
Craving ribs? Try avocado.
Ribs are fatty. In a single 3 oz serving, you may get about 0.7 oz/20 grams of fat (and a lot of that is in unhealthy, saturated form). If you feel like dining on ribs or pork sausages, chances are your taste buds would be happy with something else that is fatty, so go for plant foods that are loaded with fat, such as avocados (13 grams of fat in 1/2 avocado) or macadamia nuts (a whopping 21 grams of fat in a 1 oz serving—more than ribs). And the good news is that fats found in plants are largely of the healthy, unsaturated type.
Swap chicken for PB sandwiches.
If the amount of protein in the human diet falls below 15 percent (more or less), we start craving it. So, on Meatless Monday, if you suddenly feel like having a lean chicken breast, your body may well be telling you it wants protein. A perfect solution would be a whole-wheat peanut butter sandwich or rice with beans. Both these dishes have complete protein, just like you would get from meat.
Instead of toasty bacon, go for toasts.
What makes bacon so appetizing are the flavors created in the Maillard reaction. But you can get these aromas in different ways besides the grilling or frying of meat. Toasted bread, tempura, pan-fried vegetarian dumplings—all these foods could satisfy your cravings because they offer the Maillard reaction.
Create umami bombs.
Meats are full of umami—“delicious” in Japanese—the fifth basic taste. Mushrooms have plenty of umami, and so does aged cheese (Parmesan, in particular), tomatoes, and fermented foods such as soy sauce or kimchi. What’s more, combining several umami foods in one dish can make what chefs call a “umami bomb”—even more potent deliciousness. So, instead of cooking a steak for your Meatless Monday dinner, try a stir-fry with soy sauce, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
Make a meaty plant-based meal.
Since meats tempt us with the combination of fat, umami, and the aromas of the Maillard reaction, try combining all these flavors in one plant-based meal. An example? A perfectly toasted sandwich with avocado, tomatoes, and Parmesan. Enjoy!
With kids heading back to school, parents and teachers agree that a nutritious lunch is key to helping students succeed. While more and more schools are offering Meatless Monday dishes in the cafeteria, bringing lunch from home is another tasty option!
There are many benefits to packing a creative, healthy lunch for students of all ages. Here are just a few reasons why packing a Meatless Monday lunch is an excellent choice for the student in your life!
Nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are often thought of as side dishes or snacks. Make these foods the main event and you’ll have a lunch packed with all the things growing minds and bodies need (even protein!).
Solve the picky-eater problem by creating new meals that will help them explore new foods. Have a kid that can’t get enough take-out? Pack them up a helping of tempeh fried brown rice. Have a student hooked on French fries? Whip up some sweet potato fries for a new twist.
Encourage kids to connect with the planet by eating foods that are in season where you live. Talk to students about how plants grow, and why some fruits and vegetables in their lunches are only ripe at certain times of the year.
Introduce students to cultural foods from family tradition or from other parts of the world. Part of the fun of Meatless Monday is finding delicious new-to-you recipes. Food can help kids learn about geography and social studies when they try new dishes!
Turn a favorite snack into a meal that kids from kindergarten to high school will enjoy. Bananas quickly become peanut butter and banana sandwiches, while carrot sticks are transformed into tasty carrot slaw.
Get kids excited about making meals by including them in planning and making their school lunches. Choose favorite fruits and veggies or experiment with new ones in the store, and encourage kids to help prepare meals with you in the kitchen.
Send kids back to school with the best possible supplies: healthy meals to get them through the day. Nutritious food is key to helping students succeed – food that is rich in the vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber that kids need help them focus in class, get active on the playground, and grow and develop into healthy young adults.
At Meatless Monday, we often talk about the research that demonstrates why eating less meat and more plants is a great choice for your health. Studies consistently show that diets low in meat and high in plant foods are associated with reduced rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes and the scientific community is constantly providing new evidence to fuel the plant-powered revolution.
The latest evidence that supports the health value of reducing the amount of meat in your diet is a study from Harvard School of Public Health. The study, “Dietary Protein Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women” found that substituting 5% of the calories in your diet from plant protein (legumes, peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and whole grains) for an equal amount of animal protein resulted in a 19-23% reduced risk of diabetes.
So why #PickPeanutProtein for your Meatless Monday meals? In the study, “whole grains and peanuts and peanut butter were the most commonly consumed major food sources of vegetable protein.” And we think we know why! Peanuts and peanut butter are a delicious, affordable and convenient way to pack protein into your day. Additionally, the researchers found that substituting a serving of peanuts or peanut butter for a serving of processed or red meat, once per day, reduced diabetes risk by 11-21%.
To celebrate this great news, Meatless Monday has partnered with The Peanut Institute, and NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI) for an Instagram recipe contest this fall. Cook up a delicious and creative Meatless Monday meal featuring peanuts and you could win a new Vitamix blender from The Peanut Institute and a hands-on cooking class at NGI! Visit the Natural Gourmet Institute for more information.
When it comes to turning your grill green, you have a smorgasbord of issues to choose from. You’ve probably heard that gorging on meat filled with hormones and antibiotics is not good for your health. Or, that you can save a lot of carbon emissions by going meatless at least one day a week. Then there are the land sustainability and the water security issues. Throwing a barbecued fruit-and-veggie party is not only fun and inventive; it could change the course of a lot of people’s lives.
But what you may not realize is that greening your grill sacrifices no flavor at all. In fact, the sweet, smoky notes that barbecuing brings out in fruits and vegetables will speak for themselves—once you get the hang of green grilling.
Tips to Help Get You Started
Go firm, go fresh. When it comes to grilling, shop the freshest fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market. The firmer the vegetable, the less it will crumble when grilled.
Court the usual suspects. Traditional candidates for the grill are peppers, carrots, beets, turnips, zucchini, corn, green beans, asparagus, tomato (firm ones), onion, eggplant, garlic (whole cloves), potato, squash, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips. For fruits, consider peaches, apples, pineapple, and figs.
But also try the unusual. Avocado, artichoke, romaine lettuce, portobello mushroom, and watermelon are just some of the new grillees that are becoming trendy.
Oil down first. Many vegetables need just a light brushing of olive oil before grilling. For extra kick, add spices and marinate overnight,
Arrange the perfect meatless match-up. Kabobs are a BBQ staple, but you can make them entirely with veggies: think tofu cubes mixed with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted potatoes or just about any other vegetable that strikes your fancy.
Support guilt-free burgers. Make your own veggie burgers packed with hearty ingredients like black beans, lentils, quinoa, or chickpeas. You can also find healthy pre-made patties at supermarkets and natural food stores.
Make a burger trade. Swap a meat pattie for a portobello mushroom or eggplant slices. Use your same bun and add your favorite toppings, like avocados, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, or an olive spread.
Smoke out your pizzas. Turn up the creativity and make delicious veggie pizzas right on the grill. All you need is pizza dough, sauce, and your favorite vegetables thinly sliced or pre-grilled. For dessert, consider a fruit pizza with grilled peaches drizzled with vanilla icing.
Cross party lines. Dressing your grilled veggies in taco form will garner you a lot of new fans. Be prepared to make extras.
Keep up the cubes. Tofu can be bland so enlist your favorite marinade recipe to add flavor. Grill the cubes up and add them to a salad, serve them with veggies, or enjoy them as appetizer served with a dip.
Give your salads a good grilling. Garnish grilled romaine lettuce with a bit of fruit, feta cheese, and extra virgin olive oil, or simply drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Enlist your favorite sides. When planning a meatless BBQ, pasta salads, raw vegetables, and hummus dip are great ways to turn your plant-based dishes into a full meal.
Grill-Worthy Recipes to Download and Share