Vegan Haven offers vegan-shopping oasis

Located on the corner of NE 55th St. and University Way NE in the University District is what many vegan Seattleites refer to as the “vegan triangle.” Comprised of three local, vegan-friendly businesses, the area draws many vegetarians and vegans.

Wayward Vegan Café serves vegan breakfast all day, with their biscuits and gravy combinations popular among customers. Pizza Pi, the United States’ first vegan pizzeria, cooks up pizza with vegan cheese and faux meat.

Vegan Haven, Washington’s only 100 percent vegan grocery store completes the triangle. The store is a rarity because of the specialty items sold. Many products sold at Vegan Haven are difficult to find anywhere else in the area.

Established in 2005 by three friends, the store was sold to the nonprofit Pigs Peace Sanctuary within a year. Located in Stanwood, Wash., the sanctuary takes care of over 200 pigs that have been rescued from dire situations.

Rainbow of Vegenaise; the largest selection I’ve seen in one store.

Besides the products sold, Vegan Haven is unique because of its rare business model. All profits go to the sanctuary.

Doh Driver, the store’s manager, is the only paid employee. The rest of the staff is made up of about 25 volunteers. To work at Vegan Haven, volunteers must be vegan. Driver volunteered at the store for a year before she was made manager. She says volunteers typically work three to four hours a week.

The products offered at Vegan Haven are what set it apart. All items are vegan, with many gluten and other allergen-free items as well. The store offers all sorts of pantry items, frozen meals and refrigerated products.

75 percent of the products sold at Vegan Haven are ordered through United Natural Foods, Inc., a national organic and natural food distributer. The remaining 25 percent comes from direct ordering, in which the manager contacts the suppliers and companies one on one.

Shoppers concerned about the locality of items are in luck. Many items at Vegan Haven are produced in the Pacific Northwest.

“I try to focus on local and regional items. Some of them are pretty big companies, and I still go through my main distributer for those, like Purely Decadent Ice Creams and Tofurkey, and Field Roast even,” said Driver, “but the direct ordering is where I get a lot of the smaller, local, or specifically vegan items even if they’re not local.”

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