Here’s some great news about the Black vegan chefs who are leading some of the biggest innovations in the vegan world. For many chefs, this new era of interest in plant-based cuisine feels like a timely opportunity to expand vegan fast-food concepts across the US, reaching new, curious consumers.
For chef Lamarr Ingram, who runs Vegan-ish in Philadelphia, vegan cuisine is an opportunity for Black vegan chefs to share their food through a Black American lens. Ingram believes that his identity as a Philadelphia native, and his familiarity with the community’s challenges and needs, enables him to better connect with those in his community which talking about the benefits of veganism. “All the benefits that come with a plant-based diet, I’ve been able to experience them in a community I’m from, and where people are suffering from a lot of health issues caused by what we eat” he says. He points to the high number of chronic illnesses that disproportionately impact the Black community as his motivation to spread the goodness of veganism any way he can.
On the other side of the country in Oakland, California, Toriano Gordon, the owner of a vegan BBQ and soul food restaurant called Vegan Mob, believes that restaurants like his are a gateway to vegan cuisine for customers who want to enjoy a fast meal, without the health risks often associated with traditional fast food. Examples of his food that attracts such a following includes fried lumpia stuffed with Impossible meat, onions and spices; a plant-based nacho cheesesteak: and candied yams brushed with a hint of cinnamon.
And in Dallas, Texas, Jovan Cole is serving vegan fast food like “shrimp” po-boys, cauliflower buffalo wings, and vegan mac and cheese at his pop-up food truck Vegan Vibrationz. The truck has been so popular at the Dallas Farmers Market, that he’s preparing to open a permanent outpost in the nearby city of Plano.
One pioneer of fast-food vegan dining is Pinky Cole. She owns a restaurant chain known as Slutty Vegan, with several locations across Georgia, Alabama and New York, and new locations in the works. Her success, starting in 2018, is seen as thanks to its fast-food burger and fry offerings, playful menu names, and an unapologetically Black and carefree persona which she promotes on Instagram. Pinky is proud of the gradual change that has occurred in the vegan community since opening her first location.
Finally, in Miami, Christian Bernard draws from his experience of living in Costa Rica, New York and Miami at his restaurant, Eduble Chefs. He serves dishes such as a Still Smokin’ Chili Bowl and a vegan sausage fried rice. For him, the importance of a vegan diet is in its reduced impact on the environment.
We love that so many creative chefs are developing delicious new ways of eating vegan food.