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Failing at Vegan


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My brother recently stopped eating dairy of any kind for health reasons, so while I was home for Easter this weekend my mom and I decided to do something special for him and try making vegan mac and cheese.

I know that one way of making vegan mac and cheese is to soak and puree raw cashews, but my brother seems to like vegan cheese products so we decided to go with that. We headed to our local Shoprite and picked up a package of vegan American sliced cheese to melt into the sauce (which would be made with almond milk) and vegan shredded cheddar to melt on top.

I followed my favorite mac and cheese recipe, a copycat of the mac and cheese from Dinosaur BBQ, because it has never failed me. The recipe has a lot of secret ingredients, like tons of mustard and pureed green pepper and onion, so I thought these flavors would help make up for the lack of real cheese. I was so wrong, the mac and cheese smelled weird and was completely inedible.  My dad, who is an incredible cook, came to the rescue with white wine and breadcrumbs and managed to make it bearable to eat.

It’s definitely not a retailer’s responsibility to make sure customers know what to do with the products they carry, but providing some guidance on items that are less well known could really boost consumer engagement. Providing a recipe for vegan mac and cheese next to the dairy-free section, or even providing a list of good ways to use the products, could catch the attention of shoppers who were never planning on using the products and keep those who were already heading for that section coming back for more. I know that as it stands right now, the thought of ever eating vegan cheese again makes my stomach churn. 

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