Scott Roger didn’t miss much once he went vegan. But his cravings for pepperoni led him on a quest to find something that had the right bold, smoky flavor and chewy texture to top his vegan pizzas. What was on the market was either too expensive or didn’t have the taste though. So the entrepreneur started Akron-based Picked Proteins, offering artisan plant-based meat alternatives with options such as pepperoni or Italian sausage seiten made out of vital wheat gluten.
Q: What inspired you to create Picked Proteins?
A: I want people to get to know what a plant-based meal would be like that they might not have had in the past because that’s the barrier. I don’t use the word veganism very much in packaging and media because I don’t want people to think that it’s lording it over them. We’re trying to open the door for people that are interested in knowing more about what it’s like to eat plants and revolutionizing what you think a plant can taste like.
Q: What is your personal favorite?
A: The pepperoni, and it’s the reason I started the business. I had already had a pretty foolproof Italian sausage recipe that I was working with, and I had made tons of different kinds of veggie bacon. I spent about a year perfecting my pepperoni recipe. And that’s the one that I think is the most accessible to people. It’s one of the most popular products that I have, because it’s so obvious what it is.
Q: You share a handful of recipes using your products on your site. Which is your favorite?
A: The crowd-pleaser has to be the sausage gravy [made with the Italian sausage seiten] on a Southern-style biscuit. It’s just very flavorful. A lot of gravies are going to be kind of like rib sticking and they might make you feel a little overly full. I feel like that recipe is just so satisfying without being like junk food.