When Mike Fogarty opened Choice Market in Denver, Colorado he wanted to create a place that would be a staple in under-served areas, also known as "food deserts", providing the community with better access to quality foods. Choice is a fusion of a convenience store, a natural grocery store and a fast casual restaurant. Along with fresh produce and groceries, you can also purchase prepared foods and eat in or choose some grab-and-go menu offerings like; sandwiches, salads, and multiple breakfast options.
Choice Market has a strong sustainability mission, a low waste initiative, a compost program in place as well as consideration taken to procuring and adding foods with a low environmental footprint to the menu. Which is where an abundance of vegan options comes in. Choice Market has an exceptional selection of vegan groceries as well as prepared foods.
You can choose from freshly prepared vegan items like breakfast bowls, breakfast burritos, smoothies, or lunch and dinner items including; a Beet Reuben, a Truffled Wild Mushroom Sandwich, a Roasted Vegetable Flatbread, a Tofu Bibimbap Bowl, as well as Pasta with Vegan Meatballs.
Choice Market is also home to one of the best Beyond Burgers in Denver. Mike really demonstrated his creative genius when he turned the incredibly popular Beyond Burger into his version of a Big Mac. It really is every vegans dream come true!
Mike also supports many local vegan food purveyors in the grocery section and has many, many national vegan brands in stock including JUST Egg and, Beyond Meat and Sausages just to name a few.
A final bit of exciting news, in addition, Mike will be opening up two new stores in Denver in areas in under-served or "food deserts". In June 2019, he’ll open a new location at 10th ave and Osage as well as Colorado and Colfax Avenue. He’ll have a full menu along with groceries and food pumps, electric vehicle supercharging, a bike share terminal, and electric scooter stations. Choice Market will also offer delivery if you can’t make it in.
If you are in the Denver area, please join us at Choice Market Saturday, February, 2nd 2019 from 10am – 1pm for the Veganizer Denver Chapter's first event, a specially procured vegan brunch! Advance tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/officially-veganized-brunch-at-choice-market-tickets-54506301816
Thanks so much Mike for working with us and being so supportive of the vegan community, we wish you great success in the future!
What inspired you to go vegan and what has been the most rewarding part?
I was originally inspired by a documentary. It sparked some pretty important questions about my own values and lifestyle. Continued inspiration comes from the fact that it benefits so many aspects of life, animals, the earth, and personal health. Food is such an integral part of our lives and deeply embedded in every culture but I was still surprised that I hadn’t thought about the food I was eating sooner. That was about 5 years ago, as I continued to learn and research, further aligning my life and actions with my personal values, it continues to be the right choice for me. I love the peace of mind that comes from eating a meal that has caused no harm.
What has your experience in Phoenix been like?
I moved to Phoenix in 2010 from Orange County, CA. It’s the first place I lived away from home and my family, and it really is a great city for that. It’s quick and easy to get around town, there are plenty of things to do and see, and still a short flight back home for me. The weather is perfect for more than half the year, now that I’ve gotten used to the heat.
Over the past few years Phoenix has made some big changes. It’s growing and modernizing, we are seeing a lot more fun and trendy spots pop up. It doesn’t exactly have a ton of night life, very few places seem to stay open after 10 pm, but that completely works for me. Overall this city is simple and laid-back, very much like me.
People hear vegan and they immediately think diet. How has veganism impacted other aspects of your life?
That is so true! In no way is this a diet for me, nor is my primary reason for being vegan the health benefit. (Please pass me those vegan cookies and ice cream!) The health aspect is a really important added bonus for me.
Veganism has become my lifestyle. I think about where my clothes and shoes come from and what went into the cosmetics and soaps I use. Once you start thinking about it and learning, you’ll find vegan values flowing everywhere.
What advice would you give to people who are thinking about going vegan or who have just gone vegan?
For those thinking about it, it’s important to make the change for a reason you truly connect with at your core, not just because it’s getting popular. Educate yourself and decide how you feel about the food you’re eating.
Then once you do make the change, be kind to yourself! There is a learning curve. You are going to find out that you ate something with unexpected milk in it after it’s already gone. You’ll go through a range of emotions but just take it as a lesson. It really does get easier and it’s not about being perfect.
Take it one meal at a time. Keep researching and learning. Follow vegan accounts on social media for motivation and find a strong support system.
What is a favorite food of yours that you struggle to find vegan?
I recently found vegan mochi at Trader Joe's, I hadn’t had that since being vegan! Otherwise I don’t really miss anything. My childhood favorites were macaroni & cheese and Taco Bell bean burritos. While I think my taste buds have changed, there are several vegan mac & cheese options that hit the spot! And those burritos are certified vegan (without the cheese) and can be a life-saver in a pinch!
What do you do for fun?
Phoenix has a ton of events happening all the time. I love the new experiences and of course I attend all the vegan festivals. I tend to be a curious person and want to learn new stuff all the time, so I’ll always have a podcast or audio book playing. Meditation and yoga are important to me and I picked up painting last year. But the two things I love most - hanging out with my dog and traveling.
What podcasts do you listen to?
My favorites – Oprah’s Super Soul, Hidden Brain, 1A, How I Built This, and The Pitch.
Have a favorite quote?
A classic from Dr. Maya Angelou (and Oprah) “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” That applies to all aspects of life but something vegans especially should keep in mind when looking back and when advocating. It creates a compassion and understanding for yourself and others.
How is it being vegan and traveling? Can you share about a recent travel experience?
My mom, sister and I have been on a roll recently. We went to Madrid, Barcelona and Prague this past year. I was especially impressed with Prague’s vegan options. Our hotel was just outside of city-center and the first thing I saw across from the hotel was a restaurant called Vegg-Go! Then in the mall next to that, Loving Hut was in the food court, buffet style! Spain on the other hand, did have the best vegan street art but also has jamón ibérico everywhere, huge pig legs hanging in store windows. The bright side for me was that it got my mom to go vegetarian!
Overall, it’s not too difficult to travel. I bring plenty of snacks, let the airline know ahead of time, and use the Happy Cow App.
Why did you decide to lead the Phoenix Chapter?
As soon as I learned about Veganizer I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I had been wondering how I could be more involved advocating and Veganizer seemed like the perfect fit. So I think my passion for veganism will be my driving force but I also have over 11 years of experience in business operations, management and organizing events. I’ve learned to manage my detail-orientation to make sure things keep moving forward quickly and in the fast-paced restaurant industry that will be important. With that and being a manager myself, I’ll be a strong support system to the restaurant owners and managers.
How do you see the future of Veganizer in Phoenix?
I’m excited to see where we can take it! The Phoenix vegan community is incredible and super supportive so I’m eager to bring them more options and experiences this year than ever before. I hope Veganizer can educate and help as many restaurants as possible. At the very least, I’d love for every restaurant to give a confident answer when someone asks what vegan options they have. Let’s see if we can get Phoenix on one of those top lists, Top Vegan-Friendly Cities, or something like that. I really don’t see limits.
1. What inspired you to go vegan and how long have you been?
I’ve been vegan for two and a half years now. I was vegetarian for four years prior to making the switch to a completely plant-based diet. My biggest motivation for going vegetarian, and then vegan, was definitely the animals. Because my mom was a vegetarian for years when I was younger, she often spoke to my brothers and me about the inhumane treatment of animals in the meat and dairy industries. So, this concept was never foreign to me, and I always felt guilty about my food choices before going vegan, but I was able to block those feelings out when the food was sitting on a plate in front of me. I think my brother going vegetarian was what finally caused me to kick myself out of denial and to come to terms with the guilt I was feeling. I didn’t need to feel guilty about my choices if I just ate vegan.
2. Do you have a favorite vegan restaurant in Boston?
It’s tough to choose just one, but I’d probably have to say Grasshopper. I honestly think it’s the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten, even before going vegan. My favorite dish is the No Name, which is gluten smothered in sweet and sour sauce. It never disappoints!
3. What brings you to Boston?
I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life. I grew up and went to college a little north of Boston, so all of my family and friends are in the area. Now, I work in the city, so my whole life is here. Even though I dread the winters every year, I love this area and can’t really imagine myself anywhere else.
4. What do you do for fun?
When the weather is nice enough here, I love riding my motorcycle! I also love travelling and visiting national parks around the US. When I can’t do that, though, I love going to the movies and trying any new vegan food!
5. What has been the most personally rewarding experience or part of being vegan?
I think connecting with other like minded people has been the most rewarding part of being vegan. It’s so empowering to be a part of this growing vegan community. Anytime I meet another vegan, I feel an automatic connection to them, even if they’re complete strangers. As a somewhat introverted person, this is something I had never really experienced prior to going vegan. It usually takes me a while to feel a genuine kinship to someone. Veganism is such a personal lifestyle choice, so to share that with someone just feels really special to me.
6. People hear vegan and they immediately think diet. How has veganism impacted other aspects of your life?
Oh, it’s so much more than a diet. It’s definitely a lifestyle. Veganism has impacted so many different parts of my life – everything from the shoes that I wear to the cleaning products I use. To me, veganism is about creating compassion and minimizing harm in this world. So, beyond eating a plant-based diet, I try to always be conscious of the products I buy, making sure they are cruelty-free and vegan. Veganism has also caused me to try to be more mindful of the environment by minimizing my waste when possible. This is definitely still something I’m working on and would like to be better about, but I believe veganism and caring for our environment go hand in hand.
7. What advice would you give to people who are thinking about going vegan or who have just gone vegan?
I would tell them not to worry about being perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and that’s totally okay because we all have. Veganism isn’t about being perfect. Even if you just decide to eat vegan one day a week at first, you’re making a huge impact – on the environment, for the animals, and for your body. I’d also say that you should create a lifestyle that works for you. People go vegan for many different reasons, so you don’t have to model your life off of any particular person because their values may not completely align with yours. It’s great to get advice from people who have a lot of experience with this lifestyle, but at the end of the day, you’re your own person and you have your own set of reasons for going vegan, so find what works for you and don’t feel like you need to eat and buy all the same things as anyone else. As long as you are not eating, using, or buying anything containing animal products or that used animals in the making of the product, I believe you can make veganism work for you in your own unique way.
8. What is a favorite food of yours that you struggle to find vegan?
This question is going to keep getting harder and harder to answer because I honestly feel like there is a vegan alternative for almost every food at this point! My answer would have been a cheesesteak sub maybe a year or so ago. After visiting Philly a few years ago and getting a vegan Philly cheesesteak, I had been craving another one for so long, but struggled to find a good option in Boston; but recently Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge has added one to their menu. I also got one from Sassafras in Somerville not too long ago. Now, I honestly can’t think of a food I love that I can’t find vegan, and I think that’s an amazing thing!
9. Is it hard to meet other vegans in Boston?
We have some useful resources, like Facebook groups, that at least help you meet other local vegans virtually. I do think it’s a bit difficult to actually meet other vegans in the area though. There are lots of events that happen in Boston throughout the year, but it can sometimes be hard to connect with other vegans at these events since many people come with friends and family. I’m hoping that our Veganizer events will actually help people connect over great food!
10. How do you see the future of Veganizer in Boston?
I’d really like to see Veganizer make Boston and the surrounding cities a much more vegan friendly area. We already have lots of amazing options, but there are still so many restaurants, where a vegan really would struggle to find something to eat. My hope is that Veganizer will influence more restaurants to at least have a small section of their menus dedicated to vegan options. This diet and lifestyle is only becoming more and more common and there is going to be a growing need for more vegan options everywhere. It is up to the restaurants to accommodate these interests, and I hope Veganizer can give them an extra little push in that direction so that these changes can happen faster in Boston!
We're saying it. Veganizer feels the fastest way to #Veganize a restaurant is with our tactic known as "A Carrot Raid". Now we have a "How To" video on it. Grab nine of your closest friends and start #Veganizing.
HOW TO HOST A CARROT RAID
Portland Wing Week starts next week (yikes!), so we wanted to share a list of Portland restaurants that offer vegan wings and drumsticks.* Many thanks to all our followers who helped us assemble this list! We're lucky to live in a city with so many vegan options from tofu to seitan, and there's even a buffalo cauliflower pizza.
Please share this list to help get the word out that there are delicious, cruelty-free alternatives available. If we’re missing any restaurants, email us so we can add them. And as always, we love seeing your food photos on Instagram!
*Note: Veganizer and the following restaurants are not affiliated in any way with the official Wing Week that runs from June 25-30, 2018. We decided to compile this list to show that it is possible to enjoy wings and drumsticks without harming animals.
BACK TO EDEN
We've searched high and low on Instagram for a photo of Crush Bar's vegan buffalo wings, but couldn't find one. :( If you have a photo or you've come across one, please let us know!
FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN
GENERAL BURNSIDE'S CANTEEN
NATIVE FOODS CAFE
NO BONES BEACH CLUB
OFF THE GRIDDLE
POK POK WING
RUDY'S GOURMET PIZZA
SWEET LEMON VEGAN BISTRO
white owl social club