The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 29th

Chapel Hill vegans finally have a one-stop shop for groceries

Tamara Lackey opened the Coco Bean Vegan Market, at1114 Environ Way,  as a one-stop shop for customers to buy products marked as vegan-friendly.
Buy Photos Tamara Lackey opened the Coco Bean Vegan Market, at1114 Environ Way, as a one-stop shop for customers to buy products marked as vegan-friendly.

Coco Bean Vegan Market opened on Feb. 9, expanding the variety of vegan food available in the Chapel Hill area. The market is an extension of Coco Bean Cafe, which was founded in September of 2016 by Tamara and Steve Lackey. 

The couple is devoted to supporting veganism in Chapel Hill through their businesses. The Lackeys have been vegan for eight years, and they were familiar with the struggle to find vegan groceries for their family.

“Here in the Triangle, there is no vegan market,” Tamara Lackey said. “You usually have to go everywhere. You have to go to like five stores to pull together what you might want for being able to do a lot of cooking while you’re home.” 

Coco Bean Vegan Market provides a place that is closer to campus for vegan students to find the groceries that they need. There are limited vegan options for UNC students on campus. 

“Usually whenever I do need groceries or whenever I do want something to be vegan, I don’t really go to the dining halls,” first-year Emily Rosario said. “I go off campus. I go to Harris Teeter in Carrboro, or I go to Trader Joe's and take the bus there.” 

The Coco Bean Vegan Market had a successful opening and received support from the community. Tamara Lackey said people from all over the state came to participate in the grand opening. Both the market and the cafe have strong ties to the local community. The business created the Beautiful Together project, which has fundraised for a rural orphanage in India and helped create a library in Rwanda. 

Coco Bean Vegan Market and Cafe have also partnered with organizations like TABLE,  a nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding children who face food insecurity. 

Rosario said there are misconceptions about the vegan community, how healthy the vegan lifestyle is and how vegans feel. The cafe and market is committed to vegan food and pastries that also provide energy. 

“My favorite has got to be the autumn green bowl that we serve,” Steve Lackey said. “We get it in fresh several times every week. It’s basically a salad with butternut squash with brussel sprouts, tempeh, and a few other ingredients. It’s a powerhouse of food and it keeps me going all day.” 

Coco Bean Cafe and Vegan Market puts an emphasis on providing affordable vegan groceries and meals and creating more options for the vegan community. Coco Bean Cafe has grown in its three years, and Coco Bean Vegan Market shows the organization's commitment to vegan groceries. 

“Other than a super-friendly, comfy place to get a cup of coffee and meet with people, we want to make plant-based living more accessible to everyone,” Steve Lackey said. “It’s probably the fastest growing section of the food industry overall, but it’s still relatively young.”

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