You may have noticed a not-so-subtle shift in vegan desserts lately. Gone are the basic confections from the ’60s and ’70s (tofu pie, anyone?), replaced by vegan treats just as chic as their non-vegan counterparts. Trendsetters like Rawnchy, Sweet Maresas, The Hardihood, Two Spoons, So Beautifully Real, and Rainbow Nourishments have been blowing up Instagram feeds with their intricate designs and mouth-watering images.
Case in point: Sam Melb of So Beautifully Real has been making heads explode with raw sushi burgers for years, but now her vegan galaxy cupcakes are garnering likes. And Rainbow Nourishments’ gorgeous Geode Cakes, Sweet Maresa’s Jackson Pollock macarons, and Two Spoons’ rocket pops seem made for sharing on social media. (And Two Spoons’ founder, Hannah Sunderani, says she’s all about the unicorn trend—seconded!—with rainbow and magical colors decorating everything from cakes to nice creams).
“On a purely aesthetic level, platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram have meant that there is such a huge amount of visually led inspiration out there,” says Leah Garwood-Gowers, co-founder of raw and vegan bakery The Hardihood.
When Garwood-Gowers and Daisy Kristiansen founded The Hardihood in London in 2014, “We were inspired by Cybercandy [in London] and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, so naturally we started with our dessert offering,” says Garwood-Gowers.
It took months to develop recipes, which are free from refined sugar, dairy, and gluten, while also being total showstoppers. At that time, there were only a few like-minded patisseries doing this in places like the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, and Sydney. “We consider [London vegan cult faves] The Wild Food Café, Inspiral, and the Living Food Kitchen the godfathers,” says Garwood-Gowers.
And now, similarly inspired healthy bakers are honing their fine-dining, high-end dessert chops, for all the world to see. Although aesthetics contribute to the craze, it’s the taste that is pushing the desserts into the mainstream. Most fans are vegan, but many non-restricted foodies are also lured in by the deliciousness of these offerings.
“Vegan desserts are all-natural, with simple ingredients that we can feel good about eating,” Sunderani says. “And who doesn’t want to feel good about a second serving of dessert?”