Mama Laura & babes
Photo provided by Laura
It is a pleasure to welcome Laura of Cleveland Vegan to this interview series with vegan parents. Raised between NYC and Cincinnati, Laura now lives with her family in Cleveland and is mama to two vegan babes, with a third on the way very, very soon! Congratulations Laura and family and thank you for this interview!
Annika: Would you consider the area you live in to be very vegan friendly?
Laura: We live in Lakewood, a very close suburb of downtown Cleveland. Yes it is a very vegan friendly area. In fact, in addition to our café, bakery and catering business, there is another all vegetarian café and coffee shop. There are also a number of other places that have many vegan options.
Annika: What kind of work do you do?
Laura: At Cleveland Vegan, I run our operations. I handle all of the catering and bakery requests and coordinate the events that we run. I also manage our staff and run the day to day operations. My husband is our head chef and the mastermind of the food along with our manager and sous-chef.
Annika: When was Cleveland Vegan established?
Laura: We have been in business since August 2012. We began as just a catering and personal chef service business. We expanded and opened the café in November 2014.
Annika: Are many people who dine at Cleveland Vegan experiencing plant based cuisine for the first time?
Laura: Yes definitely. We really aim to meet people where they are so are not judgmental if they are not vegan or are unaware of eating this way.
Annika: Are there any signature dishes at the cafe and bakery?
Laura: We have a number of signature dishes. On our café brunch menu, some of our really popular items are: Biscuits & Gravy, Creamy Chickpea Tacos and Wholesome Oatmeal Pancakes w/ banana compote and coconut whip cream. And then we also operate a full bakery. On the weekends, we have special pastries that people travel distances to get. Some of those weekend pastries we offer are donuts, chocolate & cheez Danish, croissants, apple turnovers.
Annika: What are some of your personal favorites at the cafe and bakery?
Laura: This is hard – I really love it all. I love our coconut almond joy cake – coconut cake and frosting with chocolate ganache and slivered almonds – amazing! I love our potato pierogies – but we also make butternut squash and sweet potato chorizo filled ones as well!!!
Annika: You and your partner run the cafe and bakery as well as a catering business. It is immediate right away looking at your catering menu how vegetables are treated as the stars. What are some of the most popular dishes on the catering menu?
Laura: On our catering menu, some of our really popular dishes are: Cauliflower Lasagna, Rosemary & Walnut Cream Stuffed Mushrooms, Homemade Potato and Leek Pierogi. Our homemade gnocchi is to die for as well!
Annika: What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
Laura: Local and fresh ingredients, micro greens, nutritional yeast.
Annika: What are some of the most memorable events you have catered?
Laura: We have catered so many wonderful events! This past Spring we catered an event for Senator Cory Booker (a vegan Senator from New Jersey). He was here for a book signing and talk and requested an all vegan menu for the party. The menu was: Summer Rolls, Avocado Potato Skins, Stuffed Mushrooms, Curried Chickpea Cakes with mango Chutney and a wide Assortment of Bakery Items.
Annika: When did you become vegan and why?
Laura: I have been vegetarian for since 2004 and vegan since 2011. Initially I became vegan because of the health benefits. Very shortly after I began to really discover and fully realize that consuming an animal is inhumane. It did not take very long to fully realize so many other macro reasons for maintaining a vegan and plant based diet.
Annika: Were you vegan through pregnancy?
Laura: Yes I am currently pregnant due at the beginning of August with our 3rd baby and have maintained veganism throughout all of my pregnancies.
Annika: Can you share any special changes you made during pregnancy, such as with diet & nutrition?
Laura: I realized I needed to eat more often – definitely cannot skip meals. And in the morning I have found it especially important to eat protein rich foods. My normal meal before pregnancy would be a piece of fruit or two. After being pregnant, I would do the same thing, but add in peanut butter with the fruit and some whole oats…or a protein rich smoothie. Otherwise I just maintained a healthy and balanced plant based vegan diet.
Annika: What are some of your children’s favorite foods?
Laura: They love tofu, cucumbers, Thai food (yes spicy food), rice, strawberries and snacks like all kids – pretzels and popcorn.
Annika: What would your menu be for a catered kids birthday party with cake, savory plates and lots of treats?
Laura: Some idea of what we would serve: Mac and Cheez (cashew based cheez), Fruit Platter, Veggie Platter with our house ranch sauce, Vegan Pizza, Vanilla and Chocolate Cake Pops with sprinkles
Annika: As a chef and vegan parent are other parents often coming to you with questions about vegan food for their families?
Laura: Yes all the time. Especially now that I am visibly pregnant, people straight up ask me about how we are raising our children, how they should eat, etc. I don’t mind. I am happy to share anything I can.
Visit Cleveland Vegan online:
Facebook – Cleveland Vegan
Instagram – @clevelandvegancatering_cafe/
All images provided by Laura
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan mothers and fathers around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.