*This story originally appeared at FlyandDine.com*.
Cupcake craze out, non-traditional donut craze in. At least, that is what you can assume from the influx of specialty donuts taking over Southern California: Brioche donuts from Portland’s Blue Star; artisanal, seasonal donuts from OC’s Sidecar; baked donuts at Mid-City’s Fonuts; and now, organic vegan donuts from Bay Area’s Donut Farm.
You’ve probably never given much thought to whether donuts are vegan or not. As it turns out, most donuts have some kind of dairy hidden inside – be it milk powder, butter, or eggs. But is milk powder some kind of magic ingredient that makes a donut the sweet, hollow-centered fried joy that it is, you ask? Nope! Texture-wise, Donut Farms’ donuts don’t seem to be vastly different from their dairy-laden counterparts, save for being a little less greasy.
Donut Farm Founder and NorCal native Josh Levine first stumbled across vegan donuts back in Seattle in 2005, thought to himself “that sounds fun”, and proceeded to formulate his own version mad-scientist style in his home kitchen. Eleven years and three Bay-area locations later, Donut Farm has landed in Echo Park, in an easy-to-miss strip mall on Sunset. The space is small, with two trays of donuts on view displaying both traditional and more fun flavors to choose from (we’re talking Mexican chocolate, whiskey tangerine fig, and matcha green tea for starters). After an initial tasting, a personal favorite was the basic, raised glazed donut. It was fluffy, fried dough perfection and created by a sexy sourdough starter named Francois that was grown on-site (yes, really).
In a break from the status quo, Donut Farm is a 100% organic and vegan fried-dough establishment, making it the only one of its kind in LaLa Land. A wall mural from urban folk artist Bunnie Reiss and sweatshirts emblazoned with an inverted pentagram donut logo make it clear that these are donuts with a punk rock soul.
Perhaps even more impressive than being vegan is the fact that Donut Farm is 100% organic, yet has a price point that comes in on par/under what other non-organic “artisanal” donut shops are charging. While Josh describes his donuts as “Level 5” vegan (no honey, sustainable palm oil, etc.), he is clearly not trying to push a vegan agenda on his patrons. In fact, there is no vegan/organic signage in or out of shop. “Vegan donuts are not for vegans…..they are for everyone”, he explains, sharing that his goal at Donut Farm was to create a “pure food expression of the donut for everybody”.