Stopping by the Sophie Soleil Bakery Booth at Manoa marketplace has become a ritual for my son and I, taking a moment to talk with the lovely owner and woman behind the delicious baked goods, Terry. The cookies don’t usually last too long in my house either!
I have so thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Terry and am honored to have been able to witness her vegan bakery booth from it’s early days at the marketplace in Manoa Valley. Terry has been vegan since 1992 and I was excited to both photograph her delicious cookies as well as talk story with her about her path on veganism.
“I recently started a small business, “Sophie Soleil Vegan Bakery,” everything vegan for people and their canine companions. Right now I offer vegan cookies for people and treats for doggies at farmer’s markets and fairs on Oahu, but will eventually expand into other vegan products.
My dream is to one day have a place where people can come and feel comfortable knowing that everything offered has not harmed or exploited any living being. I’d also like it to be where information and support can be shared.”
What were the motivators for you to go vegan?
I was vegetarian for about 18 years prior to becoming vegan, but eliminating all animal products was always really hard for me. Then in the late 80’s, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was founded. They really had a lot to do with making me aware of the horrific abuse of animals in the laboratories, on the farms and more. Nothing affected and touched me more deeply than knowing of the pain and suffering of all those innocent beings. That was what finally made it so easy to go vegan
Any advice for people transitioning or thinking about becoming vegan?
If we keep reminding ourselves of the pain and suffering of all the innocent animals, just so we can have that piece of cheese or that leather bag, it makes it a lot easier to do without. There are so many alternatives available now. Let yourself feel your heart and follow the path of kindness. Keep learning and just do the best you can. Try not to judge yourself or anyone else. Know that every little bit of goodness that you do will make a difference.
What is your favorite thing about being vegan?
I love everything about being vegan. There is always so much to learn. I love following the path of the heart and I love meeting others who feel the same way.
Your cookies are simply delicious & it is not always easy to find vegan baked goods. When did you start getting into baking and when did you decide to start a bakery?
I started baking after I became vegan (22 years ago). The only thing I remember baking before that was dog biscuits for my first dog, Twinkles, when I was still vegetarian. I loved sharing my baking attempts with family and friends (and doggies!), and was so happy when I got such positive responses. That’s when the idea of doing this first began.
At the same time, my heart kept pulling me in the direction of knowing that I wanted, in some way, to help spread compassion for the innocent animals. Every time we choose vegan, we’re taking a step to help lessen their suffering. It took a long time, but eventually everything began coming together and I decided to begin with a vegan bakery. I finally feel like I’ve found my path and am truly appreciating this amazing experience … so excited to see where it goes from here!
You offer cookies not only for people, but also for dogs!! How did you decide to start offering vegan cookies for dogs and how has the feedback been? (I know if I had a dog I would happily buy your doggie cookies too!)
I’ve been cooking and baking vegan for my two doggies, Sophie and Kukui, for years, so when I decided to start this bakery, it felt natural to include treats for dogs. Dog food made in Hawaii is not regulated by the Department of Health, so I wanted to offer a line of dog treats that were made under the same conditions as people food. I did this because I’m not comfortable giving my dogs anything that I wouldn’t feel safe eating. Everything is baked in a commercial kitchen in Honolulu, and the main difference between the two lines is that the treats for dogs use only whole grain flours and contain no added salts or refined sugars.
I love seeing the reactions of people! They’re tickled by the idea of having vegan treats for both themselves and their doggy friends. Some people also really appreciate that we offer a gluten-free carob treat for their dogs. One thing I needed to make clear is that not all of the people treats can be shared with dogs, so there are warnings on all people products that contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to dogs. They are also packaged differently, using white for people, and brown for dogs.
I have tried your Chocolate Chip as well as your Pecan Shortbread cookies. I usually eat the whole bag the same day I buy them! Are you considering adding other types of cookies too?
I hope to add other baked goods eventually, but will stay with cookies for now. I already have an oatmeal treat for dogs, but will add a whole grain oatmeal cookie for people soon. A gluten-free cookie will probably be next. Then maybe some bar and sandwich cookies.
You currently sell your cookies at Manoa Marketplace on Thursday & Sunday mornings. Do you plan to sell at more markets on island in the future?
I feel so comfortable at the Manoa Marketplace Farmer’s Market, but I’m looking at other markets in Honolulu to see which ones would also work for me. In addition, I’ll be doing some fairs and festivals around the island.
Any other comments, suggestions, stories to share?
There are many good organizations now that have a lot of information. PETA, NAVS (National Anti-Vivisection Society), and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) are three that I have followed for years. We also have two really amazing ones in Hawaii: Vegetarian Society of Hawaii (they promote veganism) and Animal Rights Hawaii.
I do not believe in breeding or selling animals, but I have been blessed with three beautiful dogs who came to me. They have been my greatest teachers and inspiration. My first dog (Twinkles) was vegetarian, because I was vegetarian at the time. My other two (Sophie and Kukui) were vegan. I enjoyed making their meals and baking treats for them. I just want to share that it does take a lot of research and work, but it is so worth doing.