Allen and Maria Howard are known across Baton Rouge for their delicious bakes from their popular Southern Savory Biscuits to indulgent S’mores Cookies. Their creations are all handmade with love, care and one other special ingredient— plants.
The husband and wife created Plant Based Sweets by Lotus after Allen Howard went vegan. He may have cut animal products out of his life, but his cravings for comfort food still stuck around. In Baton Rouge, there are few plant-based options, so the couple started veganizing recipes themselves.
What began as a slow transition evolved into a lifestyle change for the pair. After being frustrated with feeling sluggish and exhausted, they decided to take the leap. First, they cut out red meat and then, slowly but surely, they began to eliminate all other animal products.
“That was the big motivator for me—feel,” Allen said. “I felt like I needed to have a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up my system.”
As they transitioned, the couple began experimenting with recipes they knew and loved, looking for ways to eliminate animal products without sacrificing flavor or texture. Instead of simply creating a substitute, they wanted to create something that was healthy and delicious in its own right.
After they veganized a recipe, the couple would share pictures on their personal Instagram accounts, and the response from their friends was overwhelmingly positive. In March, friend and owner of Southern Cofé invited the pair over for a Food Truck Friday event.
From there, the bakers began to cater their treats towards a Southern audience. People in Louisiana love their comfort food, so the duo wanted to replicate that feeling without the health risks that come with it.
“We thought, ‘This is the South, everyone likes their pound cake and biscuits,’” Maria said. “‘Let’s put out a healthier option and make vegan treats available and accessible to the community so you have a different option of eating.’”
The theme of the business is this accessibility. In a place where healthier options are limited, Plant Based Sweets by Lotus caters to the groups that are left out. They produce treats that are not only plant-based, but gluten-free, non-GMO and free of refined sugars.
The couple is working to redefine vegan eating in the South and present the option of cleaner and eco-conscious living. They are combatting the association of plant-based diets with a dull meal plan of lifeless salad and juice cleanses and instead proving there is a way to be both healthy and satisfied.
“The fact that we can create things and people that aren’t even vegan like our food makes us happy,” Maria said. “It makes me happy to know that you’re eating something that’s made from all plants. We’re not hurting the earth, and we’re doing something very beneficial for the people.”
To try some of the couple’s bakes, stop by local farmer’s markets and pop-up events, the Mid-City Makers market, Southern Cofé or place an order online through their website or Instagram, @plantbasedsweetsbylotus. The couple will also make an appearance at the upcoming Northgate Fest on Oct. 25.