PeanutPalate is a business in the vegan niche centered on vegan recipe blogging and food photography. More specifically, I create and photograph vegan recipes for my blog as well as offer services to companies in vegan recipe creation (eg. using a company’s product in a recipe), food styling/photography and other content creation for brands.
Why did I go vegan? It all started in 2014, when I watched a video put out by PETA on the cruelty in the egg and dairy industries. Prior to this, I had already gone vegetarian in 2012, but even then I had never connected the dots between the other foods on my plate. How, even though I was not eating meat, animals in the egg and dairy industries all ended up going to slaughter because of my consumption of animal products – my dollar was essentially going to companies to allow them to continue this cycle. Understanding why animals produced eggs and dairy – and that it was made for their own consumption and well-being – I realized that I was contributing to needless and cruel practices by continuing to support these industries. Alongside this, the heavy environmental impact and the effect animal agriculture had on global warming, gave me even more reason to step away. If I wanted to create a better world, I would have to start with myself! Armed with this knowledge, and knowing I could choose alternatives to support, I began to try more and more vegan replacements in baking and actively sought out vegan products when choosing clothing items (eg. avoiding leather or fur), makeup (avoiding animal tested products, buying only products with vegan ingredients), and in as many of my lifestyle choices as I could.
As my consumption habits changed, it led me to documenting the recipes I was trying out. During this period of changing my diet, I was at a dinner party when someone offhandedly mentioned to me that I should start a blog to document my baked goods. The thought stuck and I eventually chose a name that was easy to remember and rolled off the tongue: PeanutPalate. The summer before my junior year of high school, I developed the website and began publishing blog posts, all the while learning how to design a blank page into a full website – skills that I carry with me today, which have helped me to have the mindset of learning to build and create something on my own, regardless of if I had someone to look up to who had done this before me or not. This was going to be a way for me to document the delicious vegan recipes I would try at home, which would make it easier for me to continue eating vegan.
But after some time, the blog instead became a way for me to share my passion with the rest of the world – I realized that not many people knew what vegan eating was, how animal products contributed to environmental destruction or the cruel practices behind them. Or perhaps it was thought that vegan food was bland, expensive or difficult to cook. My mission began: to create fun and (mostly healthy) recipes that the everyday cook could make at home, with ingredients that make you feel good all while supporting the health of the environment and animal rights.
It never occurred to me that this blog would reach more than just close friends and family, but fast forward to 2020 in the pandemic – I decided to invest in a professional camera, backdrops, tripod and lighting equipment. Once my photography improved, I began posting updated recipes and gained traction on Instagram. As my following increased, brands began reaching out to me for collaborations, and it has only grown from there. In 2022, PeanutPalate became a registered business, where I now create content for companies as well as develop and photograph recipes for my website! Looking into the future, I would love to collaborate with a company to develop my own line of vegan desserts, as well as publish an e-book and a cookbook.
Challenges and Opportunities in the Market
There are two aspects to this business – gaining a following on vegan recipe blogging as well as food photography for brands in the vegan product or restaurant niche. I would say that the biggest challenge has been marketing my brand. As a small business, I have gone the route of free advertising: Search Engine Optimization with Google. Optimizing a website and publishing specific content to make it as SEO-friendly as possible makes it easier to rank higher on Google with specific keywords that users are searching for. With so many websites to compete against, it can be difficult for a small website to make its mark. Along with this, social media platforms are ever-evolving and the content the Instagram algorithm promotes is constantly changing. Aside from these aspects of growing the blog, the other challenge is connecting with brands who align with my values and learning how to secure a brand deal that will last long into the future versus just a one time package.
Due to the nature of my business, there are no physical products – everything is online. This makes the challenge of shipping much easier as I do not have to deal with the issues that arise in the supply chain of a tangible product. My main costs were startup costs – buying a camera, a tripod, lighting equipment, food props and backdrops, and so on are usually one time purchases. The only continued costs are website hosting, editing software, buying groceries to test new recipes and the occasional new photography prop I’ll come across. I also work out of the corner of my kitchen to do all of this – no food studio required!
When it comes to the opportunities in the market, vegan food is blowing up tremendously. Many more people are now becoming aware of what vegan eating means, whether it be for health, environmental or animal rights reasons. As chain restaurants expand their vegan offerings because of consumer demand (KFC’s chicken nuggets, A&W Chipotle Lime burgers, Starbucks oat milk lattes and so on), awareness around vegan food has also gone up. Although not all the consumers of these vegan products are fully vegan themselves, having myriad options with what we eat makes it more convenient for everyone to choose plant-based options.
There are huge opportunities for businesses in this niche as consumer awareness around veganism has increased over the years. Due to consumer demand, many companies have begun offering vegan product lines. The convenience of plant-based food around us has led to even non-vegan consumers realizing that vegan food doesn’t have to taste bland, be super expensive or difficult to cook. I believe the pandemic accelerated the vegan movement as well, because cooking was a huge proponent of staying at home in 2020. Thanks to all the vegan content creators putting out delicious recipes, people were more inclined to try these recipes out, whether they were vegan themselves or not.
The younger generation is also more concerned with issues such as human rights, animal rights and climate change, and are more willing to change their consumer habits as compared to previous generations. Not just around food, but even avoiding products that are not sustainable or were made through cruel practice, such as leather, fur, animal-tested home and body products, fast fashion and so on. Because of the awareness with the new generation, I believe that more small businesses are popping up that fulfill the vegan and sustainable niche (eg. being the first vegan donut shop in a small city or an app that offers fashionable thrifted clothing for users), as well as bigger companies starting ever more vegan product lines (eg. vegan Magnum bars)! Because of the rise in these products, companies target influencers with a large reach on social platforms to share them, as well as needing photographers to photograph the products in use for advertising purposes. It makes it easier that both the social influencer and photography aspect goes hand-in-hand, since I provide both with a social platform and photography skills.
Advice to others about business
Some of the best business advice I have gotten is that beginners overvalue thinking and undervalue doing, whereas those who are advanced focus on the opposite. A quote that sticks with me is You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems. I would advise to lay out a system – how will you reach out to clients? How will you obtain payment once you do get a client? Can you offer the same services more than once to the same people or companies? How will the end product reach them? Lay out a foundation of how you will fulfill the order once you do get a client – from you making the product to them receiving it – so that you are able to figure out how to streamline and scale up the process when needed. Break it down into goals that have specific timelines and actionable items. For example, a yearly goal can be broken down into a series of monthly, weekly and daily goals.
Additionally, another piece of advice I give is to avoid quitting your job until you know for sure that this is something you will continuously put 100% of your effort into, and that it is viable to scale to the desired level. Many new business owners may not see success right away and quit – it is easier to fall back into a full time job that acts as a security net, but also to stay aware not to become complacent on building your business if you already have the comfort of a full time income. If this is a business that does not have funding secured, then be a one man show – from the design of your website, to starting up social pages and marketing, to fulfilling orders and so on. This makes you all-knowledgeable on every aspect of running the business and helps to cut costs. I also suggest to start doing. Whatever you want to achieve, choose the smallest task that you could start with, and just do it rather than planning. You will learn what works and does not work if you just begin, and refine your process from there – don’t spend too much time on the planning without actually doing, this makes you have a false sense of feeling productive when you actually have not gotten anything tangible done. For example, you may be spending all your time trying to design the perfect website before you begin blogging. Rather than focusing on every tiny aspect of the design, focus instead on the quality of the content you are producing and start putting it out there. Did you know that the best plan is one that you can stick to? Yes, that’s right! A plan is nothing unless you can consistently stick to it. Do not rely on those short bursts of motivation (we all get them!) to get work done, but rather set your daily tasks and ask yourself If I could get just one thing done today and be satisfied with it, what would that be? Do not underestimate the power of the small, mundane tasks that help you reach your goals. It is often said that 20% of your effort will give 80% of your results! Lastly, make a vision board – envision your goals and visualize how you will feel when you reach them. Embody what you would feel like if you achieved the highest point of your business. What is your end goal? Act the way you would if you had achieved that goal, and that is the way you will begin to train your brain to think. A book I recommend is Atomic Habits!
Thanks for reading my story – I hope I can inspire you to eat more plants! You can connect with me on Instagram @peanut_palate and my website at peanutpalate.com.