In Search of the Holy Kale: Healthy Grocery Options in Fort Wayne


My road to going vegan has been a long one. Shortly after turning twenty-one, I became a vegetarian (eliminating meat, but keeping dairy and eggs).  Late last year, and over a decade after going vegetarian, I did a 3-week long detox and cleanse and discovered dairy was not doing my body any favors, either.  On a quest to 'eat clean,' I decided a vegan diet was the best option. I had two missions before I would commit: I had to be able to continue to bake delicious sweet treats in my own oven (I wasn't giving cookies up for anyone) and I had to have some sort of acceptable cheese replacement.  Oh, and I preferred that my vegetables looked, well, good enough to eat.

Like most folks, I wanted to do my research before I committed to the vegan life.  Giving up dairy and eggs is no simple task; they're in pretty much everything. So, I bought books. A ton of books. And researched online, searching further and further into the depths of the internet. And it turns out, you can pretty much 'vegan-ise' anything (even cheese! Hallelujah!).   The challenge was how to find some of the less than mainstream ingredients needed to make all the vegan deliciousness I was looking to try.

How was I going to accomplish such a task?  After all, we here in the Summit City are heavy on Wal-marts and light on Farmers Markets (especially in the cold dark days of January). Enter Fort Wayne's two primary health food stores: Three Rivers Co-Op Natural Grocery on Sherman Blvd. and the aptly named Health Food Shoppe on North Anthony.

The Co-op is an easy place to wander about marveling at the sheer number of vegan (and gluten-free, and vegetarian, and organic, and all natural...) foods.  Their produce section offers an array of organic and colorful veggies and fruit.  They have a large section of bulk foods that will supplement anyone's dietary needs as well as tons of convenience and pre-packaged foods.  I even spotted a box of vegan prawns (!) in the freezer section. The co-op also boasts a great deli with tons of homemade food that they make and you take home, along with a well-stocked vitamin and health & beauty section.  The staff are friendly and always ready to help when you're in search of red lentils but have never actually seen one in your life (all you know is they're supposed to make one heck of a soup...and they may or may not actually be red).

The Health Food Shoppe is equally impressive.  I was especially awed with their gluten-free selection and by the fact that they had full-size frozen vegan pizzas for those lazy evenings when I can't be bothered to make my own.  The deli section, while smaller than the co-0p still offered an array of vegetarian options.  And again, the staff are friendly and eager to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

The options aren't endless in Fort Wayne if you are vegan (are they anywhere, really?), but they are more than enough to enjoy a healthier, tastier life right here in your own backyard.