‘Packed with veggies, not fake meat’: Wholly Veggies puts vegetables center-stage in the plant-based arena

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

The Buffalo wing-style sharing platter is made with whole cauliflower florets. © Wholly Veggie
The Buffalo wing-style sharing platter is made with whole cauliflower florets. © Wholly Veggie

Related tags plant-based Vegetables

Like many plant-based food companies, Wholly Veggie is on a mission to encourage a more sustainable way of feeding the planet. However, unlike manufacturers using soy or pea protein to replicate the taste and texture of meat, Wholly Veggies is making vegetables the star ingredient.

“Our goal is to make plant-based foods that are vegetable-focused - packed with veggies, not fake meat -, healthy with no artificial colors, flavors, or 

Annotation 2019-11-13 104649
© Wholly Veggie

chemicals, and that are convenient, [putting] veggies on your plate in minutes,” ​co-founder John ​Bonnell told FoodNavigator-USA.

The company was founded in March 2016 by Bonnell and David Orr Gaucher, who met in 2013 while working at an organic meat company in Toronto, Canada. After returning from Expo West, Bonnell hatched the idea of creating a food company that helps people increase their vegetable intake.

He shared the idea to Orr Gaucher, whose whole family had recently become vegan, and the two pooled their personal savings to set up the company. After eight months of trial and error in a kitchen, they developed vegetable burger patties.

The current range, which is free from dairy, soy, gluten, nuts, added sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives, also includes cauliflower and kale pizzas, and the recently-launched sharing range of buffalo wing-style cauliflower florets and tempura broccoli.

They are, the company said, “the perfect vegetable delivery systems​ […] that​ even the laziest meatatarian would eat”.

'We celebrate the vegetable'

According to a 2017 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only one in 10 adults in the US eats enough fruit and vegetables each day.

Wholly Veggie’s focus on vegetables, therefore, seems to make sense from a dietary perspective. Bonnell said that getting Americans' to eat more vegetables is “our whole goal as a company”.

“All of our products are about taking out the work of eating vegetables and making it super easy to follow a plant-based diet. Our veggie patties cook in a toaster, families can include sneaky veggies for kids with our crust and pizza, and our cauliflower wings offer a […] healthy alternative to the family favorite chicken nuggets.”

One portion provides around 3 – 4 g of fiber (but can be as high as 6 g depending on the product), which equivalent to almost one-quarter of the recommended daily intake.  

Depending on age and sex, US federal guidelines recommend that adults eat around two cups per day of fruit and two to three cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy diet. 

“To put it simply, we celebrate the vegetable,” ​Bonnell added. “The hero in all of our products are the vegetables, which is why you can always see the fun, colorful and tasty bits of veggies in any of foods.”

The company says its products are minimally processed – the buffalo cauliflower wings and kung pao broccoli take the full florets, for instance - which retains the vitamin and fiber content of the vegetables.

Nation-wide ambitions

While the entrepreneurs eventually want to see their products available across the United States, their initial focus is the California region, Oregon and the Midwest.

The brand currently distributes nationally via e-commerce platforms and has a number of retail partners including Albertsons and Target (in Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis and Kansas City) as well as Gelson's and Berkeley Bowl in North and South California.

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