For many, the vegan lifestyle is a choice. For Mika Altidor, it was a necessity that saved his life. Years ago, Altidor prescribed a very different lifestyle. She’s had a successful career as a professional stylist, but her standard American diet of animal-based comfort foods and conveniences hasn’t done her any favors. After experiencing severe abdominal pain, she was diagnosed with several large fibroid tumors and had only one option: surgery. Altidor decided to choose his own path to avoid suffering the knife. Her intuition not only cured her, but sparked a vegan entrepreneurship. With her partner, Victor Munoz, she launched Polk County, Florida’s first and only vegan establishment, Victor and Mika’s Bakery.
A little Haitian, a little pizza
Altidor was not raised as a vegan, but she explained that growing up in a Haitian household, she didn’t eat a lot of meat, at least not compared to the typical American diet which often includes meat as a point. central to all meals. “I ate traditional dishes like griot which is spicy fried pork with plantains. [We also ate] fish, rice and chicken. And definitely rice and beans! she says. Although she tried to reduce her consumption of red meat and poultry as an adult, she admitted to having “a weakness for comfort food and pizza”. Back then it was definitely not vegan pizza.
Victor and Mika’s Bakery
Surgery or plants
Altidor was faced with the health implications of her diet after being diagnosed with several large lumps around her uterus. Her doctor advised her that a hysterectomy was the only option to banish these tumors, but she was determined to avoid surgery unless absolutely necessary. Instead, she turned to a whole plant-based diet. Over time, she healed herself and became convinced of the true power of a vegan diet. After all, she was living proof of it. She decided that going back to her old way of eating wasn’t an option, but she also craved the foods she loved, like pizza, tacos and burgers. Living in an area of Florida relatively devoid of quality plant-based options, Altidor and partner Munoz began experimenting in their own kitchen.
Victor and Mika’s Bakery
The vegan bakery was born
“Driving an hour to another vegan establishment was getting old,” Altidor said when asked about her decision to open a vegan bakery. “I knew I wasn’t the only person in Central Florida feeling this way.” Her confidence was boosted when Munoz asked her to make vegan banana nut bread to sell at her produce stand, and the baked goods immediately took off. “Customers loved it and it started selling out every day,” she pointed out. Munoz eventually took on a bigger role in the business, investing his life savings and taking over as head baker. He also injected his Mexican culture into the menu by greening his favorites such as conchas, churros and savory dishes like enchiladas. Today, the menu borrows hits from a number of global cuisines. The savory selection has expanded to include southern dishes such as chicken and waffles (which you can top with peach cobbler!) and Better Than Meatloaf with sides ranging from Brussels sprouts to cornbread. However, there is also Italian-inspired gluten-free lasagna, German-style soft pretzels, and Mexican empanadas.
Victor and Mika’s Bakery
The bakery sector is still flourishing. Altidor noted that the daily donuts and cinnamon rolls are customer favorites, but it’s hard to choose between the tempting array of sweet and savory items. Other delights on the full menu include cannolis, slices of cake, churros, tiramisu, and an over-the-top celebration of indulgence with the Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oreo Churro Cake Pot. For reference, this is a deliciously decadent layered pot of cake, frosting, sandwich cookies, peanut butter, and a churro for topping. It will turn a bad day around, if only for a moment.
Cookbook and beyond
Like all businesses, Altidor struggled during the height of the pandemic, but the duo survived by turning to local delivery and home catering. The couple also created a cookbook which was released in December 2020. Titled Chasing Vegan: Cooking Vegan Fun, the gorgeous collection of treats includes bakery hits as well as Altidor’s favorite fudge brownie recipe – vegan from its past life – and its sumptuous Red Velvet bars. If you can’t make it to Central Florida anytime soon, this book gives you a taste of what Victor and Mika are all about. Insider tip: She’s releasing a second cookbook next summer!
Altidor overcame major obstacles to get to where it is today, but its enthusiasm for the vegan lifestyle and baking fuels its daily work.
“[I think about] bake a birthday cake for a little girl with an egg allergy, or a donut for someone with a dairy allergy, and be there for so many others. We’re the only 100% vegan restaurant in Polk County, Florida, and the non-vegans who surprise me with the quality of our food motivate me every day. »
She pays it forward – partnering with Chef Jenn of Orlando’s DaJean Eats – to launch a new podcast, kitchen dreamers. The interview-style show details “how to go from a dream to a tangible reality in the food industry” and is available on your favorite podcatcher.