Photo Credit: @veggiekiins
By Madeleine Lee
ZineTeam Ambassador Madeleine Lee of @foodiesontherhode Discusses the Impact of TikTok Food Trends on the Vegan Movement Through an Interview with Remy Park, the Creator Behind the Wildly Popular Account @veggiekiins
“Have you tried the feta pasta yet?” It’s the question that echoed across social media over the past few months. Everybody seemed to be making this viral Finnish dish and there’s no doubt that it took the internet by storm. The pasta became so popular that grocery stores began to experience shortages in the cheese aisle. Vegans, however, rejoiced as the plant-based cheese supply at grocery stores did not have as dramatic of a deficit.
During a typical weekend grocery trip I strolled past the mostly barren shelves of the cheese section. At the end of the aisle, however, I recognized the familiar colorful packaging of those plant-based cheeses that my local grocery store carries. I grabbed a block of Violife “Just Like Feta” and proceeded to get a carton of cherry tomatoes and some basil; the only two other ingredients needed for the dish.
It was as if TikTok had been nagging me to make it. The app had successfully accomplished its goal to influence me. For some it may be a new beauty product, photography trick or room decor project, but for me it’s whatever new food hack or dish is trending. The algorithm knows my interests well enough to persuade me to cook something by strategically flooding my For You Page with mouthwatering food videos. It was around the start of February that I began to see video after video of the vibrant pasta dish, continuously tempting me by demonstrating how simple it was to make and showing the creators reactions after trying the dish and confirming that it really is delicious and “worth the hype.” It got to the point where it was inevitable that I would have to try the pasta: Vegan edition. This dish has shown us the power of TikTok to spread a food trend while simultaneously expanding the scope and reach of the veganism movement.
Like with any popular food trend, the plant-based community was quick to “veganize” the dish. Popular TikTok creators such as Remy Park (@veggiekins) used the plant-based brand, Violife, “Just Like Feta” block cheese as a substitute while others such as (@plantyou) made feta from scratch using tofu, cashews, and nutritional yeast. This dish has shown us the power of TikTok to spread a food trend. But how has the popular app expanded the scope and reach of the veganism movement?
I spoke with Remy Morimoto Park, the creative behind the account @veggiekins, on how TikTok has given her the opportunity to reach and inspire a newer and wider audience.
Park said, “I think that TikTok has allowed me and other creators to reach more of a broad audience which I think is more valuable for the vegan movement. It’s great to connect with your own community but…at the same time vegans already know all the things that you’re sharing for the most part so you can be a recipe resource but you’re not really reaching a new audience if that makes sense.”
“What has been really valuable for me and really exciting is that a lot of the audience that has been interacting with my content are not vegans. A lot of them say, ‘you know I’m not vegan but this looks really good and I’m willing to try it,’ or ‘I’m not vegan but I really enjoyed this smoothie,’ and that I think is probably more valuable to the movement than [Someone who is already vegan] making your recipe if that makes sense,” Park explained.
She described how food trends provide a platform for her videos to be seen by TikTok users who may not normally find vegan videos on their For You Page.
“The feta pasta and just trends like that in general are easy ways to get the attention of those who aren’t already vegan. So the feta pasta attracted a lot of people who maybe weren’t vegan and didn’t realize that vegan feta existed but just because the dish itself was trending there were more eyeballs on my video, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity for sure!”
Park’s video, with the caption “had to do it,” has nearly 130 thousand views. In the comments she exclaims that she received many DMs from non-vegans who loved the Violife feta and her take on the trend.
After trying the dish myself, I can confirm that it really is that good. I would know because I made it a second time that same week!
Photo Credit: @foodiesontherhode
This dish has shown us the power of TikTok to spread not only a food trend, but a movement. Park continues to inspire those within the vegan community and those who hope to incorporate more plants into their diet.
Although excitement around the feta pasta has died down, vegans continue to make our presence known through these viral trends. Whether it’s the “wrap hack,” baked oatmeal or specifically plant-based trends like the washed flour seitan recipe, TikTok provides a platform for a broader audience to discover veganism and experiment with innovative vegan recipes that challenge pre-existing stereotypes.
About the Author:
My name is Maddie (she/her), I went fully vegan a little over one year ago after being vegetarian since I was young. Now, I can’t imagine it any other way! Providence, RI is where I consider home, but I’m currently located in Maine for school. I’m an environmental studies major I’m passionate about food justice and sustainability. In my free time, I love running, matcha (I brought my whole matcha set to college), and anything creative!
You can follow Maddie on Instagram @foodiesontherhode