June 5, 2022
Ania Park and her twin sister, Magdalena, founded their 100% vegan grocery store and café Greenpot in the fall of 2021. “We have been vegetarian since we were about 16 years old,” says Ania. “We grew up going on vacations to our grandparents, who lived in the countryside. And the owners [of the cows who lived nearby] would take the cows to the grass and then milk them. We’d wait for the milk right there.”
As an adult, Ania began working in the health food space and, remembering her idyllic childhood experiences in the countryside, started questioning how animals were treated in the food world. About five years ago, she decided she had to make a change.
“I started talking with vegan people, I started following vegan people on social media, and I started listening to what they have to say,” she remembers. “And I saw images, I saw videos, and I saw abuse. I saw mistreatment and I saw all the hurt. And I could not imagine drinking another glass of milk. I learned how unhealthy animal products are. There is much more information accessible nowadays than there was 15-20 years ago. Given all that, I knew I had to become vegan.”
By this time, Ania and Magdalena were veterans of the health food industry. They’d worked everywhere from Italian health food stores to Whole Foods to coffee shops, and more. After so much exposure to the natural food world, they’d begun thinking about starting their own venture—and knew they wanted it to be both vegan and organic.
“We saw that there are more and more products on the market that are vegan,” remembers Ania. “And we also cared about having organic products and produce because we worked in health food stores and got to know how many bad ingredients can be in food. Many of the GMOs don’t even have to be listed on the products sometimes.”
By the time the sisters found a suitable location for their establishment in March 2021, they’d spent all but two of their seventeen years in New York living in Greenpoint. “We’d always loved the neighborhood because we have parks and good transportation options here. There are buildings with a lot of history and beautiful brownstones. There is also a ferry that can take you to Long Island City, Queens, Manhattan, and other Brooklyn neighborhoods,” says Ania. “It feels great in Greenpoint.”
Today, it also feels great in Greenpot, Ania and Magdalena’s store and café, which opened in September. Its name is derived from its neighborhood. “We want most of the products to be from plants, not to use animals,” explains Ania. “So ‘green’ as in plants and ‘pot’ because it’s all together in one spot. And it matches because it’s in Greenpoint, also.”
In addition to retail items, Greenpot offers a variety of sandwiches (think Hummus Toast, Tofu Scramble, and a Chipotle Chili), pastries from Sensible Edibles and Choc o’ Pain Bakery (Cocoa Bean Muffins, Chocolate Croissants, and Carrot Walnut Muffins), and an array of coffee drinks made with beans from Brooklyn Roasting Company. They predominantly make their beverages with oat milk—although they also serve soy, almond, and coconut—and strive to offer as many gluten-free options as possible.
Greenpot’s reception, says Ania, has been surprisingly positive. “There are so many people that are vegan,” she says. “There’s also many people that are dairy-free. So many people come to our place and don’t even see the sign that we are plant-based or vegan…They just come and ask if we have oat milk, if we have almond milk, can they have their coffee with non-dairy milk? And some non-vegan customers try vegan cheese, vegan pizza, and vegan products. So that’s amazing.”
The women of Greenpot also have high hopes for the future. “We would like to grow and for the vegan and plant-based industry to be more popular and accessible,” says Ania. “And who knows—maybe in the future, we can have a second location.”
While we cross our fingers for another Greenpot, you can visit their current location today at 86 Greenpoint Ave. in Brooklyn. Thanks, Ania!