Not too long ago, there weren’t many people who had heard of a vegan diet, let alone limited themselves to vegan foods. Lately, though, more and more people know what it is and are willing to give it a try. For some, it’s simply curiosity, for others, more is at stake, like their health, and a vegan diet looks like their best option for improving their health. For Susie B. Washington, or Subee, and Tabia Coulibaly, their health was their primary concern when they chose a vegan diet.

Subee and Tabia share a booth at the Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market, and it’s turning out to be the perfect pairing. Both women own a small, vegan snack business. They each have their own specialties which offer customers a variety of vegan snack options. Subee offers such snacks as Carrot Supreme and “Cheesy” Kale Chips. Tabia specializes in dehydrated vegan fruit and vegetable snack foods, such as the popular beet leather.

As an occupational therapist assistant, Subee’s job was pretty physically demanding. Her work was made harder by her weight and constant fatigue. She wanted to try a vegan diet, but didn’t know how, so she did her research. At first she thought vegan foods would be bland, but she quickly discovered she was mistaken. “This is vegan? I didn’t expect it to be so flavorful.” Subee’s health improved significantly after becoming vegan about seven years ago.

Subee learned so much about eating an entirely plant-based diet, and experienced such beneficial changes in her health, she wrote a cookbook which you can purchase at the Farmers’ Market: Expect a Miracle: Feel Good with Plant Based Meals. The book fills a void Subee saw in her research: vegan snacks.

Stop by Subee’s booth at the Farmers’ Market. She’ll let you taste the Carrot Supreme and the “Cheesy” Kale Chips. Chances are you’ll also get to meet some of Subee’s grand and great grandchildren. They’re pretty knowledgeable about the ingredients of the vegan snacks, which is by design. “I would like to leave a legacy for my greats and grands,” says Subee. A legacy of healthy eating and healthy living as well as a business that provides the same for others is a wonderful legacy indeed.

Tabia Coulibaly’s Healthy Living Treats offers vegan, dehydrated fruit, and vegetable snack foods such as spelt donuts and kale and peach salad with a maple syrup, chick pea vinaigrette dressing. A FoodLab charter member, Tabia started Healthy Living Treats five years ago.

Tabia worked in the Detroit Health Department and as soon as she retired, she was sick. As a trained health educator, Tabia knew what to do: research and change her diet. With her work experience, Tabia learned that most illnesses are due to lifestyle. With a change in diet, she determined, she could avoid getting ill. As she says “Why wait until you get sick?“ Tabia began to rebuild her health by starting with a raw food diet. After about a year, Tabia’s health improved, but, as she says, she “missed foods that crunch.” She began experimenting with dehydrating foods and found not only could she dehydrate vegan foods that were delicious, she also got her crunch back.

Like Subee, Tabia sees her business as a way of helping to educate others about food and health. Tabia says that she has many conversations with people at the Farmer’s Market about “food choices. There is a lot of misinformation out there.” Her first summer at the Market five years ago, Tabia recalls as being difficult. “People were not familiar with vegan foods. They saw the kale chips and asked ‘What do you do with it?’” Increasingly, though, people are much more familiar with vegan food, and with Tabia’s offerings. “Now, kids run up and ask for the beet leather. It’s made with beets and applesauce, dehydrated in a strip. They don’t know they’re getting a whole beet in a package.”

Vegan options have indeed become part of more and more people’s diets. Subee and Tabia’s booth is busy. “It’s wonderful to see people getting familiar with veganism and vegan foods and that they have their favorites,” says Tabia. That Subee and Tabia share a booth at the Farmers’ Market makes good sense. It’s a collaboration for which Tabia is grateful. “Best thing I ever did was partner with Subee!”

You can contact Subee at Suebee202@gmail.com or 313.610.5476. To contact Tabia, call or text 313.478.5942.

The Northwest Detroit Farmers’ Market is from 4 – 8pm every Thursday through October at 18445 Scarsdale. For more information about the Farmer’s Market, call 313.387.4732 ext. 103, or visit www.facebook.com/nwdetroitfarmersmarket