Meet the first fully vegan grocer in Buffalo
The Buffalo vegan community has been patiently awaiting the arrival of a vegan food market for years.
That day has finally come, thanks to the efforts of Donisha Gant, who is busy readying 212 Grant Street for her new vegan market called Plantae (named after a taxonomic group that includes land plants and green algae).
Not surprisingly, Donisha – who is from Buffalo – told me that she is a vegan herself, as a way to get healthy, and safeguard the planet and its animals.
“It started when I watched a number of YouTube videos on the food industry, and the treatment of animals,” explained Donisha. “I’m an animal lover. I’ve been a (mostly) practicing vegan for 2 1/2 years. Overall I feel way better and less sluggish. I do all of the cooking for myself and my boyfriend, who is 100% vegan.”
Donisha’s friends and family were surprised when she announced that she was going to open up a vegan market, because she had always been involved with the fashion industry. She took Fashion Design and Merchandising at Villa Maria College, thinking that she would continue to follow her passion in fashion.
“Everyone thought that I would open a boutique!” Donisha exclaimed [laughing]. “During a trip to LA, I bought a number of vegan items that I brought back to Buffalo. People asked me where I got everything from. Then next time that I went back to LA, they asked me to bring things home with me. That’s when I started to think that there was an opportunity. I began to keep the labels of the goods, and would look up the small producers online. Everything that I am sourcing is vegan and sustainable.”
While Donisha is trying to remain calm per her new market concept, she’s also a self-described “ball of chaotic positive energy.”
“It’s my normal state, to have this type of energy,” said Donisha, who is happy to direct this boundless energy to her latest venture. “I can’t believe that this has all come together for me. I feel so lucky that I met Prish Moran, who owns the building. When I told her about the concept, she immediately loved the idea and felt that it would be a great fit for Grant Street. I’m currently looking for local vegan wholesalers – now that I am officially in the building I can start to order the goods. Aside from offering healthy and sustainable market goods, for health purposes, I also want to educate the community that eating vegan can be (and should be) delicious. I will be carrying vegan jerky and shrimp, and vegan drumsticks, sauces, kimchi, and banana coconut chips, which are all some of my favorites. I’m a big fan of experimentation!”
Plantae will be a 1500 square food market, filled with products that many Buffalonians might not be familiar with. This concept should appeal to anyone who has been hoping to food shop at a market where they know that everything on the shelves is vegan, organic, and thoughtfully sourced. This concept will also be welcomed by the regional growers, makers, and producers, who have been looking to sell their vegan products in a store that is dedicated to the vegan lifestyle.”
Donisha told me that if she can get people to switch out just a couple of meat-based items in their diet, she will be happy. She wants to prove that eating plant-based foods is not only nutritious, it’s also good for the planet.
“Every little bit helps,” she said. “I’m already thinking of other concepts that will work well with Plantae, such as sustainable beauty products. I would also love to have a vegan restaurant some day. It’s all about promoting the lifestyle, in different facets of life.”
Plantae will be hosting its grand opening in two to three weeks time. Stay tuned to social media channels for further details. We will also have updates, as opening day draws near.
Lead image: I met Donisha at Five Points Bakery. In the photo, she is wearing a dress that she designed and made. She definitely practices what she preaches, without the ‘preachy’ part.