McDonald’s is preparing to test a plant based burger and with the announcement, the Beyond Meat company’s stock price surged. Burger King is making noise with its Impossible Whopper and KFC has even gotten into the act, testing out vegan fried chicken. It’s clear that there is a defined consumer preference for more vegan, vegetarian and plant based dining options. The only question now is, will Black entrepreneurs benefit?
Black people have always blazed culinary trails. The scraps given to enslaved people literally became a genre all its own — soul food. Today many of the food staples in Black communities are nothing more than basic food items that Black people figured out how to masterfully season. As American consumers — of all races — are increasingly attempting to ween themselves off of meat, there is an opportunity for Black entrepreneurs to do what they’ve always done — make the basic taste exquisite.
NuVegan Cafe has three locations but is primarily known for its location by Howard University. The restaurant is completely vegan but what sets them apart is their ability to make vegetables flavorful, soulful and impactful. Although the neighborhood around Howard has been overwhelmingly Black for generations, gentrification has quickly shifted the area’s composition. Still, NuVegan is winning. Black, white and everyone in between can be seen in the cafe, daily. Yes, people come because they care about their health but in America consumers also want flavor and Black entrepreneurs most certainly have generations of advantage there. NuVegan is using that advantage to serve customers of all backgrounds.
Burger King and KFC aren’t known for being healthy. Still, they recognize that customers want plant based options but they don’t want to live completely void of taste. No one is better positioned than Black entrepreneurs to meet this new consumer demand. Black people, for generations, have made simple ingredients delicious. American consumers want to be healthier but they don’t want to sacrifice taste. Whether you make traditional vegan dishes or vegan comfort food, there is a space for you to meet consumer demand, no matter what the consumer’s race or background is. This sounds like a job for Black entrepreneurs.