NYC Favorite Lily’s Vegan Pantry: Selling Plant-Based Meats Before They Were Cool

In the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown lies one of the earliest, lesser-known champions of today’s alternative protein movement. Lily’s Vegan Pantry, formerly known as May Wah Vegetarian Market, has been supplying NYC patrons with a dazzling assortment of exotic animal-free meats since 1995. Today, the landmark store is one of New York State’s largest distributors of vegetarian foods, and recently added plant-based pork leader OmniFoods to its lineup. 

Originally founded by Lee Mee Ng, who sought to bring the vegetarian meats she enjoyed in Taiwan to the US,  the market has since transferred ownership to Lee’s daughter Lily and converted to a fully-vegan establishment. 

Lily's/ May Wah Storefront
©Lily’s Vegan Pantry

Surprising selection

Located on Hester Street, Lily’s sells a vast assortment of unique plant-based meats including the popular black pepper steak,  chicken drumsticks, spare ribs, pork belly, ham, and crispy chicken nuggets. Many of the more unusual items, such as vegan abalone, smoked duck and smoked goose, appear to be first-to-market innovations. The store also sells a wide assortment of plant-based seafood specialties, including sliced salmon, tuna, lobster, red spot prawns, scallops and crab cakes. 

Lily’s products are imported from Taiwan, where they are produced by Taoist and Buddhist manufacturers, and come frozen, refrigerated and canned. 

Lily's Pantry Drumsticks
©Lily’s Vegan Pantry

Welcoming OmniPork

Recently, Lily’s added OmniFoods’ Meat-Style Luncheon and plant-based shredded pork to the shop’s diverse selection. Lily’s products can be purchased both in-store or online, with nationwide US shipping.

“Our mission is to promote healthy well-being and happiness through our diverse offering of products, and we are committed to raising awareness about the physical and environmental benefits of consuming a cruelty-free diet,” owner Lily Ng told VegNews in 2020. “We will continue to provide premium, delicious vegan products that no other brand can match, by working closely with our own distributors and manufacturing process, as well as engaging with customers directly.”

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