In 1980, Seth Tibbott founded Turtle Island Foods, now the “Tofurky Company”, on $2,500 savings from his 8-year career as a teacher/naturalist. The company’s first product was a tasty fermented Indonesian soy product called Tempeh. Many people, including his midwestern Aunt and fellow elementary school teachers, thought selling moldy soybeans to the meat-centric American public was a very bad idea. For 15 years it appeared the naysayers were right as Seth pursued his dream while losing his shirt as a pioneer of the early plant-based foods movement. With an income of only $300/month, Seth built a 3-story treehouse that he called home for 7 years.
In 1995, also against the advice of his partners, Seth introduced the first nationally marketed vegan holiday roast named “Tofurky”. The Tofurky brand now includes 43 different vegan products which are sold in 27,000 stores worldwide. Seth has chronicled his “40-year overnight success story” in a new book, In Search of the Wild Tofurky-How a Business Misfit Pioneered Plant-Based Foods Before They Were Cool.