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Vegan baking goes mainstream, keeps a low profile

Vegan Baked Goods
The phrase “vegan baked goods” once conjured up thoughts of dense, chalky and not-very-sweet approximations of cakes, cookies and other treats. But vegan baked goods have become much more advanced over the past several years as bakers (and those who like to eat baked goods!) have spent time refining their techniques and recipes to make treats that are just as tasty as conventional baked goods. Vegan baked goods are winning competitions on the Food Network and vegan bakeries, as well as bakeries with a wide variety vegan offerings, are opening all over the county.

But a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that with the increased success of vegan baked goods, many bakeries that sell them are distancing themselves from the term vegan. Bakers have found that although buyers are receptive to the products – and that many love the idea that their baked goods are egg free, dairy free and gluten free (although gluten free products don’t have to be vegan, of course) – many buyers are turned off by seeing the word vegan attached to the products. Numerous bakeries have said that they don’t use the word “vegan” in their store’s marketing. Some who initially used the word and later removed it reported a steady increase in business after distancing themselves from the term, even though their recipes didn’t change. There are many strongly pro-vegan eaters who are offended by bakeries distancing themselves from the term, while others feel that as long as the products (and the movement) are gaining acceptance, that is all that counts.

Are you put off by the term “vegan” when it is attached to your baked goods? Or do you know people who are turned off by that, even if you’re not?

I bake and cook vegan things on a fairly regular basis, such as my Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf, Chai Latte Muffins and these Orange Chocolate Cupcakes. There are definitely times when I won’t go out of my way to mention that something is vegan, simply because I feel that a good product will speak for itself regardless of what ingredients were used. Other times, I’ll mention it after a given cupcake has been eaten, since I know that it’ll help dispel the myth of the tasteless vegan pastry. That being said, I will also admit that I’ve had some good vegan baked goods and others that still harken back to the days when a quality “vegan baked good” was little more than a myth and that there are times when even I’ll approach them with skepticism. Vegan baking has come a long way and there are some outstanding products out there – and I’m sure that whatever they’re called, there will be even more good things to come.

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  • The Sweet Cupcaker
    October 21, 2011

    My boyfriend’s sister is a vegan and I am always looking for new ways to bake for her. It’s not something that you have to hide but I guess I can understand that people want to stay away from the people who judge it before eating it. Vegan is just as delicious as other cupcakes so who cares as long as it tastes good?!

  • Kim Q
    October 21, 2011

    Thanks for the recipes! My daughter is allergic to eggs, so we’re constantly on the lookout for good recipes. I can’t wait to give the pumpkin recipe a try, though I admit, I’m not crazy about cranberries.

  • Becca
    October 21, 2011

    I have to admit, I wouldn’t voluntarily eat something labeled vegan. It’s one thing if a recipe is like “vegan friendly” in that the recipe already called for the absence of eggs and dairy, but I hesitate when it comes to the substitutes.

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