I recently had the opportunity to speak with Christy and Chuck Krejci, Co-Founders of Vegetarian Traveler, to learn about the product line that’s helping vegans, vegetarians, and the health-conscious alike add plant-based protein to their diets and their stores’ departments.
As vegetarian eaters for nearly four decades, Christy and Chuck often struggled to find an adequate amount of protein while on-the-go, in social settings, or traveling. Their answer? Develop Vegetarian Traveler Protein Toppers®, an easy addition of 15 to 17 grams of plant protein to virtually any meal.
“Up until we introduced Protein Toppers®, there was not a product like it—where you could have 15-17 grams of protein and open up the package and drop it, really, on any type of food you’re eating—whether it’s a salad, yogurt, an entree,” Christy told me. “Our customers drop it on spaghetti, soups, sandwiches, stir fries, on cereals hot and cold. So, wherever you are, you can get that additional plant protein.”
Christy and Chuck let me know that, while the impetus behind the product seems intuitive, they waited nearly 20 years, thinking that the easy on-the-go protein addition was sure to come about any day. Eventually, the two decided, they would introduce the product themselves.
“We decided that, not only vegans and vegetarians, but also flexitarians and specialty groups like fitness enthusiasts and people with special medical diets want to eat more vegan or plant protein. We’re finding a wide range of groups, actually, that are interested in plant protein. It’s on-trend, as you know,” Christy explained. “So, a few years ago, we started in our kitchen. We came up with some recipes. We tested them on our family and friends, who we called our brave recruits.”
From those humble beginnings, Christy and Chuck would put together a Vegetarian Traveler’s Protein Toppers line that allows eaters to supplement their meals—without sacrificing taste—regardless of flavor profile or day-part.
“Our brand promise is that you can put it on almost any food and it works harmoniously. The trick was figuring out what’s going to work as well on top of a salad as it will on a stir fry as it will on top of a yogurt as it will on top of a cold cereal that you’re having for breakfast in the morning,” Chuck noted. “Until now very few people—probably nobody—would think, ‘Oh, I’ll put some roasted legumes and protein crisps on my breakfast cereal in the morning.’ That just doesn’t happen. But this food that we’ve created is so perfect for putting on top of a cold cereal—or an oatmeal.”
Vegetarian Traveler is currently available in three varieties—a Tri-Soy Medley, a Pepita & Soy-Pea Medley, and a Garbanzo & Soy Medley—to foodservice and retail customers—as well as directly, online. The company continues to produce product and is beginning to push into national retail markets and into colleges and universities—where Protein Toppers are fast finding traction with students embracing plant-based eating trends. Vegetarian Traveler products are currently available from UNFI and SuperValu.
“The product keeps up with all these trends: convenience, portability, very clean label,” Chuck explained. “It’s certified vegan, made with all non-GMO products (some organic ingredients), and all of them are naturally gluten free—just like avocados are gluten free. We just don’t engage in the use of products that contain gluten. We’re not grain-based in any way. And no nuts for that matter either. It is the easiest and most versatile way to add a lot of clean plant protein to any meal, anytime and anywhere!”
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