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An oasis in a vegan food desert: Taneytown couple promotes healthy eating with pop-up business

Akira Kyles
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

A couple based out of Taneytown are trying to bring a healthier lifestyle to the vegan food desert of Carroll County.

Jarett and Vanessa Peltzer, vegans themselves, started their pop-up plant-based food service, Wellness Warriors, on Mother’s Day last year. They currently go wherever their patrons want them to be, commonly on the weekends.

“We’ve actually been having a lot of people reach out to us, saying they want us at their events because everyone is starting to ask for vegan food and they don’t have any vegan food around here,” Vanessa said. “We just know that the community for healthy eating is growing and it’s just something that we’re super passionate about, so we just sign up for festivals around the area or there are a couple people who have reached out and said ‘We’re looking for a vegan vendor, are you available?’ So we’re looking, and people are looking for us.”

The couple have been vegan for six years after Jarett had to have gallbladder surgery.

“He just started questioning ‘I have to have a body part removed. What is going on? What are we eating?’ ” Vanessa said of her husband’s eventual decision to go vegan. “So, it just led into lots and lots of research about the foods that we were consuming.”

The pop-up offers a wide range of foods and vegan versions of classic recipes such as cheesecake, fudge and Italian sausage. Their menu also offers dishes such as pulled barbecue jackfruit and quinoa vegetable stir-fry.

“We want to educate people that plant-based options, you can enjoy the same comfort foods but in a healthier form when they’re on the go,” Vanessa said.

This past weekend, at the Boonsboro Green Fest, the couple debuted their carrot dog, which is topped with a chickpea salad.

They try to have at least one gluten-free option on the menu and ensure their meals are all-organic. All their products, including straws, are compostable and biodegradable.

The couple are not only trying to keep things healthy for the public, but affordable, too.

“We want to be with everyone else, we want to show that it’s not expensive,” Vanessa said. “Our prices, anywhere on the menu, is from $4 up to $12. We try to make it affordable for everyone.”

A goal for the couple is to open a shop, especially with customers asking them, “Where is your shop?” A pop-up just works best for them at the moment, they said, so they can help the community and promote healthy eating while also taking care of their 5-month-old son, Atlas.

The couple also have to balance their careers around the pop-up while working their full-time jobs. Jarett works at Mercedes Specialists in Westminster, and Vanessa is a nutrition counselor.

Another important factor about veganism for Vanessa is fighting misconceptions — such as that she or her family is malnourished.

“Being vegan, we’re not missing any nutrients,” Vanessa said. “I went through a vegan pregnancy and I was still healthy, we had a home birth and he was a big baby — almost nine pounds — to be vegan and super healthy.”

Vanessa hopes to show people a better quality of life through healthy eating.

Wellness Warriors’ next pop-up will be June 1-2 at the Frederick Fairgrounds, at 797 E. Patrick St., for the Mother Earth News Fair. For more information, follow Wellness Warriors on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/WellnessWarriorsPopUp.

akyles@baltsun.com

twitter.com/IOnlyEatVeggies

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