Living with dietary restrictions can be difficult, especially if you are a vegan. Although meat does not appear in everything, other animal products, including milk, eggs and animal fat, do. Veganism is more than just a dietary habit; it is a lifestyle. Vegans do not use any products or clothing that harm animal rights or welfare. As a result of this lifestyle choice, vegans end up spending a countless amount of time reading food and product labels to discover if they can use a particular product, but not anymore–if you live in Berkeley, that is. Calling all Berkeley vegans! It is time to rejoice: Republic of V has opened.
Walking into this little treasure, I immediately see various healthy cookbooks that any foodie–regardless of dietary choices–would love to flip through. Republic of V also has great products specifically for in-the-know consumers, including cruelty-free cosmetics, beauty products and accessories. The jewelry and makeup are surely my favorite parts. I would definitely come here again if I were looking for specialty beauty-care products.
What’s a grocery store without food, right? The thing is, the food is lacking. Although Republic of V has many food products, it’s more about quality rather than quantity. Since fresh veggies play a crucial role in a plant-based diet, I assumed that Republic of V would have an abundance of local fresh veggies. Ironically enough, there is hardly anything fresh to be found within the store.
Strolling through the aisles, I am surrounded by more non-perishable vegan food items than I can count. Mock-meat products come in more forms than I knew existed. Tofu dogs come in cans and plastic wrapping; vegan mac-and-cheese comes ready-to-eat in plastic bags. I don’t know whether to be amazed or confused. I associate a plant-based diet with eating real food. Seeing all of these pre-packaged products makes me feel as though part of the store is just a vegan version of the processed food industry, a vegan guide to convenience and unhealthy eating. These vegan products can also run on the pricey side, since they are considered “specialty items,” and let’s hope that they stay specialty items.
Republic of V has a lot of potential. Even though it doesn’t cater to frugal spenders, it’s good for the health-conscious person looking for a delicious snack or meal on-the-run. It has a good selection of refrigerated items. However, Republic of V focuses too much onconvenience and not enough on health. In my opinion, come here for the specialty beauty products, not for the prepackaged food.
Location: 1624 University Ave. Berkeley, CA 94703
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat: 10 am – 7 pm, Sun: 12 pm – 6 pm