Daniella Monet, an actress, values her family above anything else. She became well-known at a young age due to a number of appearances on family-friendly television programs, such as Nickelodeon’s Victorious where she played Trina Vega, the charismatic sister of the primary character. For 23 years, Monet has been a vegan, or as she puts it, “before it was normal.” The 33-year-old is now a mother of two toddlers and is fervently motivated to invest in companies that share her vision of improving the world.
Additionally, Sunday Supper, an Italian comfort food company, is her most recent venture. Sunday Supper, a 2021 startup founded by business partners Richard Klein and Maleeda Wagner, is revamping and modernizing its strategy this week and launching with a single, ideal dish: a family-sized vegan lasagna in Italian Sausage and Three Cheese tastes. Monet was interested in the dish because it is family-style and comes with five servings each packet.
“My nonna used to make amazing lasagna and I hadn’t had lasagna that good since I was a kid… Making lasagna is one of the more laborious jobs. I’ve made it myself but it’s not something that with two little ones I can whip up as much as I’d like. Knowing that this exists for myself and others, it was just very exciting. It felt very nostalgic and is such a crowd pleaser,” Monet said.
Monet’s is like many Italian families, who traditionally eat dinner for four to five hours. Monet sees a way for her to bring a cozy, delicious vegan option to the table with Sunday Supper’s take-and-bake lasagna. Monet stated “I just want to be able to offer my own spin on things without it feeling so disjointed because I am the only vegan one in my extended family… Having an option that I can bring and be so proud of that isn’t going to take me a ton of time to do because I don’t have that luxury anymore with two little kids right now, makes me feel like this couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
Monet discovered early on as a mother that serving food to kids and expecting them to consume it differs significantly from dining with them. Monet claims that her children “gobbled up” the lasagna at Sunday Supper, demonstrating to her that it was well-liked.
“This is something that I love but I’m vegan and it’s an easy sell. But if it’s something that my family and extended family loves, that gets my stamp of approval… I can make this for my nonna. And my nonna is very traditional Italian. And she’s not as open-minded to vegan food and this is something that she’s eaten,” Monet said.
Monet went on to say that having a ready-to-bake vegan alternative is preserving her family’s bond even as its composition changes over time. “[My nonna] actually stopped cooking recently which doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is a big deal for our family… So our families have to pivot on whose home we go to for holidays or who is doing the load of the cooking. We’re all just figuring it out,” Monet said.
Developing vegan lasagna
With its healthful, plant-based approach, Sunday Supper seeks to disrupt the $38 billion frozen food sector, and its founders bring a certain level of expertise to the table. Klein, a dedicated vegan who enjoys family-style meals as much as Monet, and Wagner, an executive with 20 years of expertise in the frozen food industry, are both in this group. “I used to throw pretty regular Sunday dinner parties at my place and wanted to create a vegan lasagna that even my meat-eating friends would love… They were an instant hit with everyone at the table; vegan and non-vegan alike, and I knew I had to bring this product to market,” Klein said.
Sunday Supper enlisted Chef Celestino Drago, a longtime expert in Italian cooking despite not being vegan himself, to help make its Italian comfort dishes shine. While there are several readily available vegan cheese and meat alternatives on the market, VSS decided to make its own plant-based ricotta to add an extra touch of coziness.
“We want to bring friends and family around the table to share a meal. We are about good food, for food lovers and we aim to get more people to eat more plants, and eat less animal products, that ultimately it is a win for our planet… Our focus is on bringing love to the table with dishes that are as delicious and authentic as their original Italian versions,” Klein said.
Along with making an investment in Sunday Supper, Ryan Bethencourt, the founder and CEO of the Mark Cuban-supported pet food company Wild Earth and a managing partner of Sustainable Food Ventures, and Monet serve on the brand’s advisory board. Products from Sunday Supper are available via online grocer GTFO. This fall, it will be available nationwide at grocery chain The Fresh Market. Arancini balls, mozzarella sticks, pizzas, and even tiramisu will be among the new vegan Italian meals that the company plans to introduce to thousands of retail locations across the country as it expands.
Monet’s vegan investments
Monet’s investments are motivated by both her desire to assist causes she believes in and her vegetarianism. In addition to Sunday Supper, Monet is a shareholder in the vegan restaurant chain Sugar Taco in the Los Angeles area as well as the vegan snack company Outstanding Foods. With actress Evanna Lynch (of Harry Potter), Monet co-founded the subscription service Kinder Beauty in 2018 to make it simpler for customers to find vegan and cruelty-free goods.
“I just want to be able to make really great choices accessible for the masses… I was vegan during a time when it was not normal and I kind of had to be ashamed of it. People didn’t know how to accept me and I didn’t know how to navigate it either. I would get anxiety just around food. I want to cut through all that and show that this is just a way of life and it’s better and this is how you do it and it’s not that complicated,” Monet said.
An app named “Daniella’s Digest” that chronicles the plant-based lifestyle Monet leads with her family and fiancé, Andrew Gardner, will debut on August 18 as her most recent vegan endeavor. The family-friendly software, according to Monet, will provide grocery lists, nutritional information, and recipes with a personal touch.
“My goal with it is to provide resources for mostly families but really anyone can get something from it… I just want [plant-based] to feel like a very simple lifestyle,” said Monet.
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