Episode 176: Jason Rosenbaum And Hailey Swartz

Episode 176 Actual Veggie Banner Image

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Episode 176 Actual Veggie Banner Image

Episode 176 Jason Rosenbaum Quote

The term “plant-based” gets thrown out a lot, especially in recent years, as more people are going towards a vegetarian/vegan diet. But not all “plant-based” products are created equal. While some *are* plant-based, they can contain a lot of other excess additives like salt and preservatives that counteracts the advantages of not being meat focused. Actual Veggies is standing above the rest, keeping true to their name and creating products that are “veggie-only”. You can see it not only in the ingredients list, but in the burgers themselves.

Actual Veggies Co-Founder Jason Rosenbaum has always been an entrepreneur but never had a company he was truly passionate about. Thinking he was eating well, and fairly fit, Jason actually had fairly high cholesterol due to his genetics. After going through different options, he decided to cut out meat in 2019. With his favorite food being beef burgers, Jason was on the hunt for a way to replace them. In his findings, he discovered there are essentially two vegetarian burgers on the market: imitation meat, which is filled with sodium and extremely processed, and veggie burgers that are frozen and packed with preservatives. That’s it.

Episode 176 Jason Rosenbaum Quote

After seeing that there wasn’t much innovation in the veggie burger market, Jason decided to take matters into his own hands.

Coming from the tech industry, primarily with small business owners and entrepreneurs, Hailey Swartz had a desire to make her ideas a reality just like them. Health conscious herself, when Hailey learned the issue Jason brought to the table, she was on board to work on executing his vision. The two, alongside Hailey’s brother Alex, all teamed up to create Actual Veggies. Not knowing exactly how to create the burger themselves, the three partnered with a chef and created four flagship burgers: The Actual Black Burger, The Actual Orange Burger, The Actual Green Burger, and The Actual Purple Burger. All aptly named as you can see, taste and smell the veggies that are in them.

While Actual Veggies are obviously veggie based, Jason doesn’t particularly like using the term “plant-based”, but instead saying they’re “plant-only” or “veggie-only” because they don’t want to be grouped with other plant-based products that might not actually be.

“There’s so many products out there that are called plant-based” then you look at their ingredients and you go ‘wait there’s not really many plants in here’” – Jason Rosenbaum ( 16:34 -16:41)

Now the timing of creating Actual Veggies was tough, as it was around March 2020. But as the world shut down, they opened up. After launching officially in January 2021, Actual Veggies are already available with Imperfect Foods, Hungryroot and Fresh Direct, along with Sprouts stores nationwide and direct to consumers on their website. With no preservatives, Actual Veggie burgers are something that’s unique that isn’t really being done in the market right now. As such, they’re primarily found in the refrigerated section, not frozen.

While veggie burgers are a staple of their product line right now, Hailey, Jason, and Alex have other veggie focused foods they’re looking to innovate. Since we all eat with our eyes first, they want to focus on color to make whole, veggie-only food fun for everyone.

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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