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“Ultimately, I hope they feel some type of empathy. It’s a small but important way to connect with the other living beings on our planet. And to me that’s everything.”
IN 2000, WHEN Danielle Konya suggested to a Philadelphia restaurant owner who was offering the then-radical option of a vegan cheesesteak that he also offer vegan desserts, she was “practically laughed out of the restaurant.” She’d been baking cruelty-free, zero animal- byproducts desserts, and to prove him wrong, she baked him a vegan chocolate cake. He called her up and ordered four. She delivered those cakes, and within a few hours, he called again. The cakes disappeared in a heartbeat; could she bring him 11 more? At the time, Danielle thought, “How can I make eleven cakes? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Today, the CEO of Vegan Treats makes a lot more than 11 cakes. The first vegan bakery in existence has compassionately revolutionized baked goods since it opened in 2004. Located on Bethlehem’s north side, Vegan Treats operates out of a 4,500-square-foot retail bakery that produces desserts 24 hours a day with an 18-hour order turnover. But Danielle was providing premier vegan desserts wholesale since those fateful 11 cakes, building what is her passion for living things into a 50-employee business, beloved by sweet tooths and celebrities, vegans and baking aficionados, all over the world.
The business may have grown beyond her wildest dreams, but the mission that drove her from the beginning continues
to ground and inspire her. “I never stop being surprised by the magnitude of Vegan Treats,” she says—the customers who fly from Japan to Bethlehem for a delicious bite, the famous fans, and accolades. But in the end, “it’s always about the animals.” She hopes that while every customer experiences confectionery delight, they are moved to “think with their fork.” She says, “Ultimately, I hope they feel some type of empathy. It’s a small but important way to connect with the other living beings on our planet. And to me that’s everything.”