There is a growing number of Black-owned vegan food businesses around the country — and across metropolitan Phoenix, including new restaurants and home-based bakeries. Starting with pastries and touching on plant-based soul food, here are 10 Black-owned vegan food ventures around the Valley.
Basima’s Sweet Treats
A childhood allergy prevented Genesis Israel from baking with eggs, so her mother taught her how to make just about anything without them. Since 18, Israel has made baking her specialty, and eventually launched her home-based bakery, Basima’s Sweet Treats, about two years ago. Her 100-percent vegan confections double as works of art and special-occasion conversation pieces: cupcakes decorated like cacti with creamy green barbs, a triple-layer vanilla wedding cake flourished with ornate roses, bundt cakes splashed with strawberry frosting and dappled with granola.
Maya’s Cajun Kitchen659 East Main Street, Mesa
For Southern-leaning vegan sandwiches, head straight to Maya’s Cajun Kitchen for a V Shrimp Po’boy with chips or a Chick’n-Less Po’boy. The former bulges with seasoned soy shrimp and gets a piquant kick from remoulade sauce, while the latter is packed with seitan chik’n. Chef and owner Maya Bartlett grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and brings a family tradition of cooking Creole and Cajun food to her business — but with a healthy bent. In addition to the popular po’boys, Maya’s also makes plant-based versions of other Southern favorites like biscuits and gravy and a smoked jackfruit barbecue sandwich.
Cosmic Vegans7145 North 58th Drive, Glendale
This new, all-vegan, plant-based marketplace and restaurant is a one-stop-shop and pop-up dining spot for local produce and products from vegan entrepreneurs. Seven days a week, explorers at Cosmic Vegans can find natural medicine workshops, fresh juice and smoothies, and vegan food vendors serving everything from tacos to shrimp and grits and “chickun” and waffles. Vegan food trucks like Flavors Plant-Based Cuisine frequently park curbside, and there’s plenty of locally grown produce to bag up, too.
When Jozhua D. Watson was diagnosed pre-diabetic and told he had a high risk for stroke in his 20s, he switched to a plant-based diet that he says reversed all his health issues. Now, the ASU professor in African American and gender studies espouses the virtues of vegan eating — and shares the fantastic flavors of his plant-based baking through Indulge Irresponsibly. Loaded chocolate chip cookies studded with Oreo- and M&Ms-like pieces, orange cranberry pistachio scones, matcha cinnaroules, and gourmet gluten-free cakes are just a handful of the menu favorites.
Jupiter Wings Rings and More4700 North 12th Street, #122
Jason Higgins and his son Rashaad propel vegan soul food into the proverbial stratosphere at Jupiter Wings Rings and More with plant-based eats like vegan chicken sandwiches, posole with seitan, vegetarian carnitas beer tacos, and wings bathed in flavorful dry rubs (think lemon pepper, mango habanero, Cajun, and Hennessy). The Jupiter Rings Buffalo Sauce is slather-worthy, but just one dab of the incendiary house-made Rings of Death sauce will do ya. An abundance of tuber variations (including tater tots, French fries, and baked potatoes) helps round out the menu.
The Cutting Board Bakery & Café2235 South Power Road, #116, Mesa
Vegan soul food? Oh, yes. Chef Nadira Jenkins-El literally wrote the book on it, revealing remarkable animal-free recipes for traditional meat-based favorites like ribs, jambalaya, fried chicken, and crab cakes. Jenkins-El’s restaurant, The Cutting Board Bakery & Cafe, plates a plethora of Southern favorites as well as popular Caribbean wraps and bowls, and spicy vegetarian jerky that’s hard to keep in stock. Everything is engineered to be nutritious — likely influenced by Jenkins-El’s previous career as a nurse.
Michael Crowe, a.k.a. Mushroom Mike, keeps things fun(gi) with his business, Southwest Mushrooms. He’s been growing toadstools in Phoenix since he was a teen, and cultivates a variety of gourmet mushrooms at his urban farm. He’s also passionate about educating others in the nuances of growing mushrooms and maximizing their nutritional benefits. In addition to fresh and dried mushrooms and mushroom powder, Southwest Mushrooms offers mushroom grow kits, sterilized petri dishes, grain spawn, and liquid cultures for order.
Trash Panda Vegan1712 East Broadway Road, #3
Chef Krystal Harris and Trash Panda Vegan offer "100-percent plant-based comfort food" that skews slightly Asian, with vegan menu items like Thai-fire chicken wings, springs rolls and fried rice, and garlic plantains. Comfort food like gooey mac and cheese, juicy burgers on buoyant buns, and “Tunah” salad sandwiches give guests all the flavor and texture of the meat-and-dairy-based originals, but with fewer calories and guilt. The folks behind Trash Panda recently opened a new vegan concept called Early Bird Vegan to boot.
Bear and the Honey Bakery
Bear and the Honey Bakery lives up to its tagline — “Not Your Basic Bakery” — with an assortment of pastries, cakes, cookies, and other goodies that can all be made vegan, gluten-free, keto, or paleo. Using organic and local ingredients, Arizona native Monique Harris creates traditional-tasting treats. There's a variety of pies with names like Pucker Up Lemon Meringue and Gonna Be Banana’s Cream, cinnamon rolls topped with a lemon-vanilla glaze, doughnuts (including a vegan brown sugar bacon iteration), and Zona Tarts shaped like the state of Arizona – available with raspberry or blackberry jam.
Mother-of-three Ciara Bennett thought granola would be the better breakfast option for her kids, but when she started looking at the ingredient, she was startled by high amounts of sugar and artificial flavoring. When she started making her own organic granola using essential oils, and VintageOats was born. Bennett packs her granola blends with cashews, apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, and more, and adds flavor with add-ins like pure vanilla extract. Two of VintageOats’ biggest sellers are orange berry (sweetened slightly with maple syrup) and mango chili lime, which can also be used as a rub on mock meats.
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