Photo of Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet by Lindsey Treffry

Photo of Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet by Lindsey Treffry

The shelves of Bibles next to aisles of activated charcoal powder, cashew cream, agar agar sea vegetable flakes, Minit-meat and vegan gelatin may seem unrelated. But at the Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet, the diet lifestyles of Seventh-day Adventists closely relate to the religion — and has since the church’s inception in the mid-1800s.

Seventh-day Adventist John Harvey Kellogg, famous for his development of breakfast cereals at the turn of the century, was a health pioneer in manufacturing vegetarian products like Worthington, Loma Linda and Morningstar Farms, which still remain today.

Outlet Store Manager, Herman Schreven, said guidelines were set by the church to avoid meat — as well as caffeine and alcoholic beverages — but are not doctrine.

“These (vegetarian products) are comfort to (church members),” Schreven said. “It’s what they know. Even for those who left the church, they still come back here for this food.”

Photo of Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet by Lindsey Treffry

Photo of Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet by Lindsey Treffry

And for those searching for health, not religion, Schreven said the dangers of meat is apparent through disease, cholesterol levels and animal-injected growth hormones.

“It’s a matter of education,” he said. “The landscape has changed. Leaving religion out, the vegetarian lifestyle is the way to go.”

For a large number of ABC and Vegetarian Outlet visitors, religion is not part of their visit. From agnostics to New Age shoppers, Schreven said 30 percent of store visitors appear to be non-religious, while a large amount stem from other religions.

“My single obsession has been to make this a friendly, neutral store,” Schreven said. “We are here to serve. When someone walks through the door, we don’t talk doctrine and we don’t talk religion.”

While shoppers of other faiths could turn to other specialty stores or frozen grocery store sections, as some did following a 2008 fire that heavily damaged the bookstore inside the Upper Columbia Conference headquarters, Schreven said the outlet still holds the local lead on vegetarian food due to price and availability.

“Our cost is lower than everyone else’s,” he said. “We buy food service packages and (during sales or in bulk), customers can save 40 percent over grocery prices.”

Despite $1.7 million in sales last year, the store made $7,000 in profit.

“We sell so close to cost, so there is not a whole lot of profit,” Schreven said. “We want to bring the best value to our customers.”

And as Schreven is one of those vegetarian customers, he said his main reason for eating vegetarian is due to the brutal treatment of animals, not his religion.

“And of course, there’s feeling light and energetic,” he said.

Special orders and food requests can be made and shipped from Portland and Seattle distributors, including natural products, from soap to hemp protein.

“When people want to make the transition, we want to be here for them,” Schreven said.

The Adventist Book Center and Vegetarian Food Outlet is located at 3715 S. Grove Rd., off exit 276, for Geiger Field.

To see an array of vegetarian recipes, visit pinterest.com/spokanefavs. Share a link to your favorite vegetarian recipe in the comments below and we will pin it on our board.

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for getting the word out about the store. I have been a vegetarian/vegan most of my life. My husband is vegetarian, and my daughter was raised this way. I am not a Christian, but I do feel a strong alignment with the Buddhist traditions of kindness and compassion toward all beings. I stopped eating animals because I know that they value their lives and happiness as much as I value mine. The Adventist store is making a wonderful contribution toward a more compassionate way of life.

  2. Tracy Simmons

    Thanks for your comment Bodhi!

    I became a vegetarian about three years ago after some reporting I did on the Hindu faith. After learning Hindus view ALL lives as sacred, even insects, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat meat anymore.

    I’m glad there’s an outlet like this available here. The chain grocery stores try, but we eat more than just veggie patties!

  3. I was raised SDA and some of my fondest memories were connected to the love of nature and good food. It was strange to me that after coming to faith in Christ and attending churches, I saw that health and nutrition amd creation were not values maintained or taught. Although I’m not a SDA member anymore, instill treasure those values. I can tell you the vegi-food options these days are WAY more flavorful than in the 70-80s!

  4. Lindsey Treffry

    Tiffany, activated charcoal powder is used as a digestive absorbent. It’s believed to relieve gas and to combat fungi or viruses. I think you dissolve it in water to drink, but there may be other ways to use it too.

  5. Awesome story.

    Might be a bit TMI, but digested charcoal will also cut down on bad smelling gas. It’s something many don’t talk about, but lets be realistic.

    Excited to read more stories from you Lindsey!

  6. There are close to 100 uses for charcoal, most of which are for a wide variety of ailments. The ABC sells an inexpensive book on the amazing uses of charcoal in a medicinal way. EVERY person going to a 3rd world country either for a visit or for mission work MUST take charcoal with them.

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