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Vegetarianism in the News

Editors' Note: June 5, 20005
Because of developments revealing that Emes Kosher-Jel is not vegan and or even vegetarian, our original story below is not accurate. For more details see our story on Emes Kosher-Jel at http://www.vegparadise.com/news53.html vegan supreme marshmallows has ceased production because one of the ingredients in their recipe was Emes Kosher-Jel. VeganSweets Marshmallows have never contained Emes Kosher-Jel and are still available from Pangea.

January 1, 2004 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Vegan Marshmallows Reappear
After Long Absence

Vegan marshmallow fans have been salivating for the last five years since Emes, the only producer of this delicacy, ceased marshmallow production. Now two companies have emerged to satisfy marshmallow cravings, VeganSweets Marshmallows by Pangea and vegan supreme marshmallows.

vegan supreme marshmallows was the first of the two to enter the market and began offering its product for sale in August 2003.

Ming Tran heads the vegan supreme team and is assisted by Jeremy Klein and Karen Morris. Jeremy designs the packaging and the company website. Karen is Ming's lifelong friend. "When Karen heard that I was on a mission to produce vegan marshmallows, she hopped along for the ride and hasn't turned back," says Ming.

Their marshmallows came to fruition after 2 1/2 years of experimentation. "Every time we make marshmallows it's a challenge," says Ming "Even though the recipe is the same, the marshmallows come out slightly different every time. It's difficult, but the challenge is fun for us."

Stores Stock Marshmallows
The marshmallows made their debut on http://www.VeganEssentials.com, the chief promoter of the product. They are also currently available at Food Fight! in Portland, Oregon, George Street Coop in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Pumpkin's Organic Market in Brooklyn, New York, and Lassen's Health Food Stores at various locations in Southern California. More stores will be announced in coming months.

Packaged in 10-ounce bags, the square marshmallows contain the following ingredients: sugar (non bone char refined), corn syrup, vegan (plant-based) gelatin, water, pure vanilla, sea salt, and "lots of TLC!" Prices vary.

In addition to the marshmallows, the group also produces Krispy Rice Treats and Peanut Butter Krispy Rice in 2.5-ounce bars.

Ming, who holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance and has completed the Personal Financial Planner Certification Program at University of California at Irvine, is a financial analyst and a part-time Tae Kwon Do instructor.

Describing herself as a "professional marshmallow maker," Ming told VIP, "This is not my full time job, but at the rate things are going, it may become my full time job very soon. Maybe tomorrow?"

Ming's Path to Vegetarianism
Ming became a vegetarian for health reasons. "I was shocked when I received a phone call from my doctor after a check-up telling me I had to immediately go on a low-fat diet because my cholesterol was exceedingly high for a person my age. This was a big wake-up call for me. Prior to this call, I was a junk food and fast food-a-holic. What's worst, I was very proud and arrogant about it! Needless to say, I was humbled and realized that my bad habits and attitude were killing me inside.

"I believe that you can be non-vegetarian/vegan and maintain a healthy diet, but I strive to be vegan now just because I feel animal cruelty should be avoided. I am far from perfect though, and I don't judge others for not being vegetarian or vegan."

Ming is quite pleased with the positive response to the marshmallows. "Vegan kids are happy now that they are making s'mores with friends on camping trips. It's awesome!" says Ming.

Pangea Researches Marshmallows
Pangea, the other producer of vegan marshmallows, announced their product would be available in September 2003, but the item is currently backordered because the recipe needed reformulation. When Emes stopped supplying marshmallows to its customers, Pangea began a research project to explore the process of making this confection without gelatin or eggs.

"We quickly learned that the machinery required to professionally produce marshmallows with the classic dry airy texture we are accustomed to in store-bought marshmallows is exorbitantly expensive," says Pangea co-founder Shari Kalina.

Shari told VIP that this marshmallow production equipment is available in the United States, but small scale production is not feasible for a large company because they would have to thoroughly clean their equipment after their regular runs to insure that there was no cross contamination. Needless to say, the companies were not interested.

"We were not satisfied with the idea of simply producing a 'homemade' type product in a bakery type kitchen." Shari added. "It was important to us to offer vegans an alternative that was as close a match as possible to 'real' gelatin-based marshmallows."

During the next few years Shari and co-founder Phil Murray conducted their search for production facilities that led them outside the U.S. to England, Spain, Israel, and Mexico, but in all of these instances they encountered problems. One major problem was the recipe's vegetable-based gelling ingredients that made the finished product less stable than those containing animal gelatin.

Manufacturing Begins in Costa Rica
"Finally, early last year, we began a successful partnership with a manufacturer in Costa Rica who now produces VeganSweets Marshmallows using our proprietary formula on an exclusive basis. We are absolutely thrilled to see all the years of work come to fruition, and our customers, who remained dedicated through all those years to the idea of tasting real vegan marshmallows again, seemed pretty excited, too!" Shari exclaimed.

Comparing VeganSweets Marshmallows to other brands, Shari feels hers are superior because they are professionally produced in a cylindrical shape and have "the authentic texture and shape of a store-bought marshmallow." It is not a homemade "slab marshmallow" that is made in a baking pan and cut into squares when dry.

The reformulation occurred because of a desire to change the flavor and create an all-natural product. Originally the marshmallow was flavored with vanillin, an artificial ingredient used in commercial marshmallows. Instead the company decided to switch to pure natural vanilla, a switch that necessitated a search for a particular vanilla bean and a decision on the appropriate amount of flavoring.

The VeganSweets Marshmallows, sold in 12-ounce packages that retail for $3.99, list the following ingredients: non-bone char processed sugar, corn syrup, agar agar, carageenan, soy protein, pure vanilla, and corn starch.

Public Responds with Approval
Asked about the public's response to the marshmallows, Shari replied, "Overwhelming! We get tons of emails and phone calls from excited customers every day. We even had a non-vegan write to us to tell us that she and her vegan sister took them camping, and that she was shocked at how authentic and delicious their taste and texture were. Comments like that are pretty amazing to hear!"

Shari reports that people can expect to find the marshmallows in their local health food store this month.

Other VeganSweets products include vegan donuts and cinnamon rolls, dairy-free Belgian chocolates, vegan baking mixes, vegan chocolate candies, and vegan white chocolate products.

In addition to VeganSweets, Pangea markets other cruelty-free products such as No Bull footwear and accessories and VeganLife vitamins. All of their products are 100% vegan and created with fair labor standards. The marshmallows and other Pangea products can be obtained from http://www.veganstore.com

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