Joel Schantz: Founder of Tree Huggin Treats
How long have you been vegan, and what led you to make that switch?
Interviewed by Doh Driver
I have been vegan for about 9 years. Health related issues had initially
caused me to make the switch.
What prompted you to start your company, Tree Huggin' Treats?
To this day, I'm not really sure! Being vegan often causes people to become
quite creative and do a lot of learning in the kitchen. I think that would
be my case.
What are some of your most popular products?
Our Frozen Candy Bars, most notably the Peppermint Phatty and the Toasted
Almond Crispy Cat, seem to be the most popular of late. The Cashew Candy
Bar, Vudge, and Peanut Butter Balls have always been popular products as
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Can you tell us why your products are different from others on the market?
Any "special ingredients" you want to disclose to your friends at VegFamily?
Our products are truly different from most for quite a few reasons:
1) They are unique in the sense that they neither taste like any other vegan
treats, nor, for the most part, do they resemble any others.
2) They are mostly, and shockingly to many, whole food derived. No Flour, No
Sugar Added (the organic dark chocolate that we use contains whole cane
sugar), No Soy Margarine of any kind, No Wheat, nothing but pure goodness
from the earth.
3) They really taste like the candy you remember having as a kid.
Do you have ideas for new products to debut soon?
Yes, we have a new one coming out soon called the Monkey Bar, a crispy,
peanutty, nougatty, organic candy bar that we think will be a hit!
Where can we find your products?
Right now, our products are only available in natural food stores and co-ops
throughout Western North Carolina, a few stores in Atlanta, and of course,
through our website: www.treehuggintreats.com.
We are in the process of contracting some regional distribution and we hope
to have our products available to everyone not too far down the road.
Have you enjoyed starting your own business? What have been some of the
I've enjoyed it tremendously. It has been such a pure experience.
Extremely opportunistic. The challenges, I believe, revolve around making a
living creating and selling products that I 1000% believe in. The reward
is the ever growing base of super-satisfied customers.
You live in Asheville, NC, which is rather vegan-friendly. In the bigger,
crueler world, do you have much hope for veganism?
I truly believe that veganism is a great step towards remedying many
environmental consequences that we have witnessed through animal agriculture
for the last few decades. I'm not sure how much hope I truly have though
... I see way too many Golden Arches every day to be too hopeful.
When you travel, do you live off your products, or try to find local
eateries with a vegan dish? Where is your favorite place to visit? Least
We love to try new things whenever we have the chance. We haven't
travelled much of late, but we used to enjoy a few days in The Big Apple
every now and then. Great food (lots of vegan stuff), great
art, music ... everything.
The least favorite place to visit is probably Miami because it's hot, heavy
traffic, and there are no good veg restaurants for such a big