So many of the food predictions for 2020 are about plants. Trend spotters at Today say we’ll see more plant-based fish, plant-based ice cream and good old-fashioned sweet potatoes this year, while the fine dining chefs at Food & Wine point to menus with more “Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables” and “An even bigger emphasis on the environment.”

Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals predicts this year in vegan food will bring a rise of banana blossom fish, plant-based jerky and more vegan fast food options.

In Maine, food companies are right on trend cooking up lots of new vegan eats. Here are eight to look for this year.

Veggie Life burgers

Order: Off the menu at Three Dollar Dewey’s and Inn on Peaks Island in Portland; Saltwater Grille in South Portland; Shipyard Brew Haus at Sugarloaf and at Sunday River; Inn by the River in The Forks; Boatman’s Bar & Grill at Three Rivers in the Forks and Millinocket.

Photo by Emily Zollo

A growing number of Maine restaurants serve the Veggie Life burger, a traditional-style vegan patty with an emphasis on vegetables and whole foods. As a fan of old-school veggie burgers, I like its flavor and slight chewiness. Some restaurants carry it alongside a bleeding plant-based burger while elsewhere it’s the sole vegan burger. The burger has been manufactured in The Forks since 2009; in the past year, the company was formalized and distribution expanded. Veggie Life is owned by Jaime Shaw, innkeeper at the Inn by the River in The Forks, where the veggie burger was first served. Depending on where you order it and how it’s topped, expect to pay $13 to $16. The patties are made from what Shaw calls “decipherable, purposeful ingredients,” including red quinoa, carrots, onions and almonds. Keep an eye out for more vegan eats from Veggie Life. “We plan to roll out new products this year,” Shaw said.


Mama Mo’s soups

Order: online at and pickup at Fork Food Lab, 72 Parris St., Portland

GoodMaine Photography

Monique Barrett, who honed her soup skills at beloved Portland institutions including Rosemont Market and the former North Star Cafe, started her own soup company at Fork Food Lab in 2018, selling wholesale to restaurants and events. At the end of 2019, Mama Mo’s began taking online orders for individual soups from the lunch crowd in downtown Portland. Customers pick up their orders at the Fork Food Lab in Bayside. Most of Mama Mo’s soups are vegan while two are vegetarian. The vegan soups include French lentil, curried carrot ginger, and spicy peanut & sweet potato. A single 12-ounce container costs $5 to $6; a 32-ounce container costs $11 to $12.50. Mama Mo’s soups are also sold at cafes, including Dobrá Tea and Greenlight Studio, both in Portland, and Peachy’s Smoothie Café in Yarmouth.

Taste of Eden Yummy Pizza

Buy: Taste of Eden Vegan Café, 238 Main St., Norway

Taste of Eden Vegan Café is a long-running restaurant located in the small, vibrant downtown of Norway, which is tucked out of sight just off Route 26 on the way to Bethel. The all-vegan eatery offers lunch and early dinners, and it also sells frozen foods to-go. The newest is the frozen pizza, which sells for $12. Toppings include the house-made red sauce; house-made cashew cheese; and seasonal vegetables, such as the spinach, onions and mushrooms on the menu now. During the growing season, many of the vegetables come from the the large veganic garden cultivated by cafe owners Sonya and Michael Tardiff. The pizzas can be made on a housemade whole wheat crust or a gluten-free crust. Other frozen prepared items for sale are Taste of Eden’s popular veggie burgers; waffles; and pints from FoMu, the Boston area plant-based ice cream maker.


Brewery Extrava beer

Buy: At the brewery tasting room at 66 Cove St., Portland; specialty wine and beer stores, including RSVP and Bier Cellar; and bars, including Bayside Bowl and CBG Portland.

Opened in July by owner and brewmaster Michael LaCharite, the brewery specializes in Belgian-style beers that are all vegan. The brewery, located in Portland’s so-called Yeast Bayside neighborhood, has 12 beers on tap and by the end of the month Extrava plans to sell seven varieties through its distributor. During the warmer months, food trucks, including the Totally Awesome Vegan Food Truck, often park at the brewery. The suggested price of an Extrava four-pack starts at $13.99 for Single Belgian Blonde and rises for stronger beers. LaCharite, who calls himself “whole foods, plant-based” (too many slip-ups keep him from calling himself vegan), observed that while fewer breweries these days use animal products (such as fish bladders) to clarify their beer, a growing number add lactose (the sugar in cow’s milk) at the end of the fermentation process to create fruit sours, milkshake IPAs, pastry stouts, milk stouts and other sweet brews. Extrava stouts contain no lactose. Other beers on tap include Red Belgian Dubbel, Golden Tripel and Bruin Saison.

River Bend Sweets vegan treats

Order: online at and pick up at Fork Food Lab, 72 Parris St., Portland, or buy at Part and Parcel in Biddeford.

Photo courtesy of River Bend Sweets

What started this past summer as cakes in a jar has evolved into a wider product line that includes other vegan treats and a new name, the River Bend Sweets company. From the start, the Maine blueberry vegan cheesecake has been the company’s best-selling cheesecake-in-a-jar. Other vegan desserts include sandwich cookies, brownies and Naomi Bars, which owner Patricia Corbet describes as “a vegan Snicker’s bar” and sell for $5. Once she’s found environmentally friendly packaging, Corbet intends to offer shipping.


Exact Batch chocolate cake mix

Buy: online at

Photo courtesy of Fun for All Foods

After her son was diagnosed with autism, Jennifer Nicole found that a gluten-free, dairy-free diet helped him. She learned to pack special cupcakes for him when he attended birthday parties, but she always ended up with more cupcakes than he could possibly eat. So Nicole, a Portland native and Deering High graduate who now lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, teamed up with fellow mom Tiffany Grossman to launch Fun Food All Foods, which specializes in baking mixes that can be made in small quantities. This year, the company launched its chocolate cake mix, which is vegan. A 14-ounce bag of cake mix sells for $12.95. “The mix enables you to create smaller batches,” Nicole said. “You can make two cupcakes and then reseal the bag.” The partners are working on Exact Batch mixes for vanilla cupcakes, sugar cookies, classic muffins, brownies and vanilla frosting.

Gert & Lil’s Cookies & Crème dessert

Buy: at Tiller & Rye in Brewer or order by emailing owner Alyson Mayo at

Photo courtesy of Alyson Mayo

More like cookies than cakes, these desserts come from the resurrected vegan company Gert & Lil’s, which sold vegan puddings for a time before going on hiatus. This year, it is back selling Cookies & Crème treats, which are also gluten-free. The sandwich cookie comes in two flavors: classic and peanut butter. Owner Alyson Mayo participated in the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs’ Top Gun program last spring and is working to get her product into stores.


Mom’s Munchies Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies

Buy: On and in supermarkets and health food stores across the country.

In the nine years since I first wrote about Mom’s Munchies, the company has grown from three to 12 employees, moved into expanded production space in Freeport and – recently – gained approval to sell to Walmart. In September, the vegan company launched its Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies, which reminds me of a Chips Ahoy!. Ingredients in the gluten-free cookies include almond butter, coconut oil, Maine maple syrup, almond meal and flax seeds. Each package contains about eight cookies and has a suggested retail price of $5.99. “I wanted to create a classic crispy chocolate chip cookie that would remind you of your childhood treats but with better-for-you ingredients,” said founder Betty Crush. I’d say she succeeded.

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. Contact her at


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