Photo: Courtesy of Sharaya Fanning
Sharaya Fanning poses next to her Sharaya’s Treats VW van
For many, going vegan often means giving up a lot of childhood favorites. No more Pop-Tarts or Chips Ahoy, or any pre-packaged goodie that comes already filled with animal byproducts.
A movement to give vegans the baked plant-based treats they crave keeps growing in Pittsburgh, and that includes a newer option in Sharaya’s Treats
Launched by Sharayah Fanning, a Pittsburgh-area native who grew up in Imperial, the business makes and sells small-batch sweet and savory goods, many of which are reminiscent of the grocery store treats many Americans enjoyed growing up (what she calls “nostalgia snacks, but vegan and cleaner.”) This includes a signature staple that Fanning credits as setting her on the path towards creating her one-woman operation.
“The one day I decided to try making Pop-Tarts,” she tells Pittsburgh City Paper
. “I made them for everyone in my family to try and everybody loved them.”
She posted the plant-based pastries to her Instagram account and, as she puts it, the business “kind of took off from there.” After filling orders requested by those close to her, including fellow members at her local gym, Fanning says she looked into the possibility of opening a business. She obtained a cottage license, which covers food prepared and sold in residential kitchens, and began selling out of Carnegie Coffee Company.
She now sells at various shops — Coffee Tree Roasters and Espresso a Mano among them — and events, including the First Friday Penn Avenue arts crawl in Garfield, the Flower Fest: Market and Festival in Mount Washington, and VegFest.
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Sharaya’s Treats at First Friday on Penn Avenue
On Sun., Sept., 10, Sharaya’s Treats will appear at SolFest
, a wellness event in Monroeville that, along with activities like yoga and meditation, also features food trucks. Attendees will find Fanning there selling vegan versions of Pop-Tarts, Ho Hos snack cakes, Hot Pockets, and cinnamon rolls in her custom Volkswagen bus, a purchase that she calls “literally a dream.”
The momentum isn’t bad for a young business that only just celebrated its first anniversary last March, especially given that Fanning has no culinary background. Still, she says she enjoyed baking for family — which includes her husband and daughter — and friends and saw an opportunity to get out of what she considered a bad professional situation.
“Whenever I started it, I was working a corporate job that was very, very demanding, very, very stressful, and I think that was the additional drive for me,” she says.
She adds that she saw a demand for vegan goods in a city that didn’t already offer a ton of options, and wanted to cater to an often neglected demographic.
Photo: Courtesy of Sharaya Fanning
Vegan "Pop-Tarts" by Sharaya’s Treats
While vegan baked goods are still a growing niche in Pittsburgh, Sharaya’s Treats expands on shops like Sweet Alchemy
in New Kensington (where customers can also find plant-based, homemade Pop-Tarts) and Wild Rise Bakery
in Lawrenceville. Fanning has made efforts to integrate into the local vegan community, particularly by supporting others — this includes using plant-based “meat” made by Self-Reliant Seitan
Fannings views Sharaya’s Treats as not competing with others, but providing more accessibility to vegan options in various parts of Pittsburgh, particularly in the South Hills where she lives. She drops new flavors every Wednesday on the Sharaya’s Treats Instagram account, where customers can then place orders and pick up their goods the following week at a designated site.
Fanning says the business has allowed her to quit her job and commit herself full-time to delivering treats free of dairy, eggs, and other ingredients unsuitable for vegan diets. For now, though, she has no intention of settling down anywhere.
“I’m not in a rush for a brick-and-mortar,” she says.