Before moving to Vermont in 2010, Belgian-born Véronique Beittel had never bought a beet in her life. But the bounty of fresh produce she found at farmers markets after relocating with her husband from Washington, D.C., changed her outlook on food. "The more fruits and vegetables you start eating, you realize you don't need all that meat on your plate to get the nutrition you need," she explained. Several years later, when she was pregnant with her now-3-year-old daughter, Francisca, she found she wasn't able to safely eat deli cold cuts because of the risk of listeria. She searched out meat alternatives but didn't find anything that tasted good and contained healthy ingredients. When Francisca started asking for hot dogs and deli meats, Beittel didn't feel comfortable feeding them to her, either. So, she began working with her cousins in Belgium, who run a factory that has been making vegetarian foods since the 1990s, to create plant-based substitutes for popular kids' foods. Using Francisca as a taste tester, the trans-Atlantic family members formulated soy-free vegetarian hot dogs and deli slices made with egg-white protein from free-range organic chickens. The products look and taste so much like meat that young kids can't tell the difference, Beittel said. After brainstorming hundreds of names for the business, Beittel and Francisca chose Green Slice. In December 2016, the company had a soft launch in Vermont and is now sold locally at Healthy Living in South Burlington, Natural Provisions in Williston, Commodities Natural Market in Winooski and Stowe, and markets in Shelburne, Jericho and Richmond. Business has been growing steadily since then. In October 2017, Albert's Organics, the largest distributor of organic food in the U.S., began delivering Green Slice items up and down the East Coast. Future plans include supplying college campuses, school districts and airports, and introducing new products. Next up? Organic, meltable, vegan cheese slices, inspired by Beittel's dad, who is lactose-intolerant.
- Beittel and daughter Francisca