Ep. 111: From Illness to Vegan Entrepreneurship with Rey Ortega



In this episode, we sit down with Rey Ortega, a true pioneer in the vegan food industry. Rey’s health struggles led him on a path of discovery, from battling chronic illness to becoming a successful vegan entrepreneur.

Rey’s journey began with health issues that left him feeling unwell and desperate for answers. After identifying an egg allergy, he transitioned to a vegetarian diet, which significantly improved his health and led to a remarkable 95-pound weight loss. Inspired by dairy-free, eggless cookies at the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, Rey decided to start his own vegan baking venture, the Alternative Baking Company.

Despite initial challenges and setbacks, Rey’s business flourished, reaching nearly $1 million in sales. 

However, a difficult partnership forced him to start over. With a loan from a trusted friend, he founded Sun Flour Baking Company and continued to expand his presence in the vegan food market.

Rey’s expertise spans all aspects of the business, offering invaluable insights for aspiring vegan entrepreneurs. Join us to learn from Rey’s experiences, avoid common pitfalls, and embark on your own journey to a profitable and successful venture in the world of plant-based living.

When I first started an alternative baking company, I got so much slack for people not wanting me to put the word ‘vegan’ on my package. I had so many people say, “That’s going to kill your sales”. I didn’t care! I was an angry vegan at the time. In fact, when I became vegan, I became vegan for health reasons.

– Rey Ortega

Show notes:

[00:43] Cookies and entrepreneurship: health challenges and tasty pivots: dominating market with vegan cookies.

[02:30] In cookie business for almost 30 years: How he became an angry vegan.

[06:53] Learning how to make cookies without eggs: starting first company with just $5000 and huge passion.

[08:54] Taking slack for creating a vegan baking business in 1994: giving away cookies for convincing people of its great taste.

[12:30] Vegan cookies these days don’t have issues with taste but with competition: saturated market.

[15:20] Plant-based but not vegan: vegan products are getting to the mainstream, but we still need to look at labels.

[17:48] From illness to entrepreneurship: struggles with chronic illness made him learn about food digestion, and his sicknesses catapulted Rey into veganism.

[23:25] Rey’s passion comes from veganism. 

[26:16] Vegan cannabis producer of edibles: becoming a serial entrepreneur is a natural way of entrepreneurship life.

About Our Weekly Pivot Episodes

We live in fast-paced times, and in an ever-changing marketplace business owners must be able to adapt readily. The Pivot podcast, hosted by Stephanie Redcross West, features interviews with successful vegan business owners, keeping you up-to-date on topical issues & how the pros are handling them.

Join us live every other Tuesday (1 PM ET): LinkedIn | YouTube | Facebook

Do You Want To Be Interviewed?

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, submit our registration form with a link to your website, a business bio, and a few sentences about the topics you would like to discuss. 

Have you seen these Pivot episodes yet?

Don’t forget to visit our Pivot Resource Page, to browse through all episodes.

Scroll to Top

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Be the first to learn about new offerings, free webinars, podcasts, and more.

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to Pivot!

Or Join Us Live!

Every Other Tuesday (1 PM ET) on