‘Vegan Meets Soul’ Brings Plant-Based Southern Food to Baton Rouge

vegan soul food

When entrepreneur Brittany Ventress launched her plant-based home kitchen business, Vegan Meets Soul, last April, she did it with other vegans in mind. However, four months later, the chef has found that vegans make up only a small portion of her clientele. The rest, she told local online publication 255 Magazine, is made up of omnivores looking to eat healthier and experience new cuisine.

At Vegan Meets Soul, Ventress serves up plant-based takes on southern-style dishes like mac and cheese, barbecue wings, meatless fried chicken, Cajun chicken pasta, and more. She also puts her creative spin on classics like jambalaya fritters and jackfruit eggrolls. Vegan and nut-free chocolate chip cookies are the star of the dessert menu. Ventress also offers meal preps for her customers, catering to specific allergens and dietary goals.

Through her business, Ventress hopes to “feed people’s souls” with dishes inspired by her mother’s home-cooked southern food. She hopes to show others that it’s possible for even meat-heavy Creole cuisine to taste delicious without animal ingredients. She makes everything, except for the dairy-free cheese, from scratch, but noted that she is working on her own recipe. “It takes longer, but to me, I know what’s going into my mouth,” Ventress said.

Ventress adopted a vegan diet last year after beginning the transition in 2016. She says that the lifestyle change came about after being diagnosed with preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressure.“Basically, it was the way I was eating: fast food, drinking Cokes every day. I was like, ‘I need to make a change,’”  she said. “If I can do it, anybody can.”

Ventress is not alone in the pursuit of proving that vegan soul food is not only possible but also delicious. In Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, former fashion industry professional Latisha Darling, owner of the plant-based restaurant Greedi Vegan, brings forth her love of comfort food in dishes designed to appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike. At Baltimore, Maryland’s Land of Kush, co-owners chef Gregory Brown, Naijha Wright-Brown, and Darius Waters serve Caribbean-inspired vegan soul food classics like mac and cheese, ribs, collard greens, cabbage, curry chicken, and local favorites like crab cakes.

Like Ventress, while all of the restaurants above are vegan, omnivores make up a large portion of customers, representing a shift in American eating habits.