Jeanne Petrus-Rivera became a vegan seven years ago, partly for health reasons. She quickly learned that one of the things vegans miss most is dairy. So she set out to create a tasty, healthy alternative. With that, Petrus-Rivera started Red Lotus Foods
, making a variety of cashew-based products that are tasty, healthy and wildly popular at local farmers markets in Northeast Ohio.
“As a vegan, I found a lot of people who are interested in going vegan, but found it hard to give up dairy products,” says Petrus-Rivera. “Most non-dairy products are disappointing.” Cashews, on the other hand, are lower in fat but loaded with monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and other good things. Petrus-Rivera discovered that they also make a great substitute for dairy.
Red Lotus produces vegan flavored cashew spreads, cashew sour cream and a sweet cashew creme. “They’re really so flavorful and delicious,” she says. “I think this is the way to go to make vegan more accessible.” Flavors range from sun dried tomato and black garlic to the new spirulina bleu.
Petrus-Rivera participated in both the Bad Girl Ventures
and Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen
business programs earlier this year. She operates out of the CCLK with one employee, her husband, and sells her products at farmers markets. More recently, she’s been dropping samples by local restaurants in hopes of forming partnerships.
Petrus-Rivera’s dream is to form a cooperative out of Red Lotus. “We’re really just at the beginning of something that’s part of a whole paradigm shift,” she explains. “I have a huge vision and I hope to achieve it in the next three or four years.”