Healthy plant based meals aren’t generally found in your freezer (unless you’ve made them yourself), right? Monica Klausner and Mark Fachler of Veestro, based in Vernon, CA, just south of Downtown Los Angeles, are here to change that. Veestro is a 100% plant-based, organic, meal service that is shipping healthy, frozen meals straight to your home. Forget all of your pre-conceived notions about frozen foods. These recipes are handcrafted by Chef Jose Aramallo, a vegan chef who grew up in Bolivia. With over 30 years of experience, he is known for his ability to create delicious flavor profiles using only vegetables. His expertise shows, as Veestro is now selling over 40,000 meals per month!
Sharon and I got a behind the scenes tour of the Veestro factory, and then we sat down with Mark and Monica to chat about the business. The most unique aspect of this operation is that absolutely everything is made by hand. When we entered the kitchen, employees were peeling beets, potatoes, and carrots. Quinoa was cooking on the stovetop. As we walked around, no industrial machines were present! I was surprised by how small it felt, but Monica and Mark said they felt lucky to have found this new spacious factory. The original Veestro factory in Thousand Oaks, CA was only about 2,500 square feet, but this space is over 20,000 square feet.
We visited on a Tuesday, which is when they begin meal preparation. They only make enough to fulfill their weekly order, which means that meals are not stashed in the back freezer for weeks on end. Stocking inventory one week at a time ensures that meals are always at peak freshness and allows them to last longer in your home freezer. Monday and Tuesdays are shipping days, while Thursday and Fridays are focused on packaging. Tuesday afternoons and Wednesdays are focused on prepping and cooking. With only 26 people on the Veestro team, all of the employees wear many hats. No matter how the business grows, the siblings are not willing to compromise on the quality of the food. They pride themselves on their top-notch customer service and the care and attention to detail that goes into preparing the food. They want each customer to feel as if he or she is having a home cooked meal.
The meals are cooked, assembled and frozen until they are delivered on your doorstep. Mark, who handles finances and operations, says that is hard to be sustainable when shipping temperature sensitive goods. Until recently, there was nothing on the market that kept frozen food cold like Styrofoam. Providence Packaging’s new Kodiakooler sustainable box liners are changing that. Veestro recently adopted their denim based biodegradable box liners to keep their food cold. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.
The average customer order from Veestro is 27 meals. Seventy percent of their customer base simply wants healthier plant-based additions to their diet, while the other 30% is ordering the weight loss subscription plan. Customers want to eat healthier, but they don’t want to uproot their daily dietary habits. These meals are great for anyone on the go. Most meals can be heated from frozen, although the company recommends that you thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. In total there are 43 menu items are they are rapidly expanding! The food itself is absolutely delicious. Their tofu red curry is the most popular entrée, and for good reason. It’s hearty, bold, creamy and delicious. They launched spinach pies about a month ago and have plans to develop a black bean pasta alfredo.
Monica manages the sales and marketing side of Veestro, which is also expanding. The company recently hired a full time Vice President of Marketing and a Social Media Manager. They have budding partnerships with Meatless Monday and The Gentle Barn. While 60% of their clientele are vegan or transitioning to vegan lifestyle, they don’t market themselves in that way. They truly love their product and eat it every day for lunch. Sharon and I have no doubt that their company, like a plant, will continue to grow as more people demand quick and healthy plant-based meal options that taste amazing. Mark and Monica have a simple message: Just add more plants.
Written by Rebecca Berg, dietetic intern