How this vegan lasagna is helping Daniella Monet reconnect with her Italian roots

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For actress Daniella Monet, family is everything. She rose to fame early in life appearing on various family-friendly television shows, including Nickelodeon victorious where she played Trina Vega, the main character’s charismatic sister. Monet has also been vegan for 23 years, or as she puts it “vegan before it was normal”. Now a mother of two toddlers, the 33-year-old is passionate about investing in brands that align with her mission to change the world for the better.

And their latest investment, Italian comfort food brand Vegan Sunday Supper (VSS), is arriving close to home. Launched in 2021 by entrepreneurs Richard Klein and Maleeda Wagner, VSS refreshes and refreshes its approach this week, launching with a uniquely perfected dish: a family-size vegan lasagna in Italian Sausage and Three Cheese flavors. The dish is ready-to-bake and comes with five servings per packet, a family approach that caught Monet’s attention.

“My nonna used to make great lasagna and I’ve never had lasagna the good since I was a kid,” Monet told VegNews. “Making lasagna is one of the more tedious jobs. I made it myself, but it’s not something I can whip up as much as I’d like with two little ones. Knowing that this exists for me and others was just very exciting. It felt very nostalgic and is such a crowd pleaser.”

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Vegan Lasagna for the whole family

Italian families have been known to dine for four to five hours, and Monet’s is no different. With VSS’ take-and-bake lasagna, Monet sees a way for her to bring a leisurely vegan option to the table that’s simultaneously familiar and enjoyable. “I just want to be able to offer my own perspective on things without it feeling so disjointed because I’m the only vegan in my extended family,” Monet said. “Having an option to bring with me and be so proud of won’t take a lot of time because I don’t have that luxury anymore with two young kids right now makes me feel like that’s not the case Couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

As a mother, Monet learned early on that eating with children is very different from setting food in front of them and asking them to eat. As for VSS’s lasagna, Monet says her kids “gobbled it up” straight away, showing her that it had a huge appeal.

“It’s something I love, but I’m vegan and it’s easy to sell. But if it’s something that my family and my extended family love, that gets my credit,” Monet said. “I can do this for my nonna. And my nonna is very traditional Italian. And she’s not that open to vegan food and that’s something she ate.”

Monet went on to explain that having a vegan option for baking helps nurture her family ties as her dynamic changes over time. “[My nonna] I recently quit cooking, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is is a big thing for our family,” Monet said. “So our families have to worry about who we go to on vacation or who takes on the burden of cooking. We’re all just finding out.”

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Making the perfect vegan lasagna

VSS aims to revolutionize the $38 billion frozen food category with its healthy, plant-based approach, and its founders bring a certain amount of know-how to the table. Wagner is an executive with 20 years of experience, including at Nestlé-owned brand Stouffer’s, and Klein is a passionate vegan who loves family meals as much as Monet. “I used to throw Sunday dinner parties at my place fairly regularly and wanted to create a vegan lasagna that even my meat-eating friends would love,” Klein told VegNews. “They were an instant hit with everyone at the table; vegan and non-vegan, and I knew I had to bring this product to market.”

To really make his Italian comfort food shine, VSS recruited chef Giacomino Drago – who, while not vegan himself, has been an authority on Italian cuisine for decades. While there are many vegan cheese and meat products available on the market, VSS chose to make their own plant-based ricotta to give it an extra homey touch.

“We want to bring friends and family around a table to share a meal. We’re about good food for gourmets and getting more people to eat more plants and less animal products so that it’s ultimately a win for our planet,” said Klein. “Our focus is to bring love to the table with dishes as delicious and authentic as their original Italian versions.”

In addition to investing in VSS, Monet also serves on the brand’s Advisory Board alongside fellow VSS investor Ryan Bethencourt, Founder and CEO of Mark Cuban-backed pet food brand Wild Earth and Managing Partner of Sustainable Food Ventures. VSS products can be purchased through online grocers GTFO It is vegan and will land at grocery chain The Fresh Market nationwide this fall. The brand is also entering a seed funding round aimed at expanding that will bring additional vegan Italian dishes — like arancini balls, mozzarella sticks, pizzas and even tiramisu — to thousands of retail outlets across the country.

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Daniella Monet’s Vegan Ventures

Monet’s investments are fueled by her veganism as well as her desire to support those she believes in. In addition to VSS, Monet is an investor in vegan snack brand Outstanding Foods and Sugar Taco, a growing vegan restaurant chain in the Los Angeles area. In 2018, Monet co-founded subscription company Kinder Beauty with actress Evanna Lynch (of Harry Potter fame) to help consumers find products that are vegan and cruelty-free.

“I just want to be able to bring really great choices to the masses,” Monet said. “I was vegan at a time when it wasn’t normal and I was kind of ashamed of it. People didn’t know how to accept me and I didn’t know how to deal with it either. I would get scared just for food. I want to break through all of that and show that this is just a way of life and it’s better and that’s how you do it and it’s not that complicated.

Her latest vegan venture, launching August 18, is an app called “Daniella’s Digest” who shares the plant-based lifestyle Monet lives with her children and fiancé Andrew Gardner. Monet promises the family-focused app will provide shopping guides, nutrition facts and recipes with her family’s unique twist.

“My goal is to provide resources for mostly families, but really everyone can benefit,” Monet said. “I just want [plant-based] feeling like a very simple lifestyle.”

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