On November 22, vegan food company Eat Love will open a brick-and-mortar location in the Fountain Valley area of Orange County, CA—becoming the first vegan fried chicken shop in the United States. Founded by second-generation immigrant Lynn Torres, the business previously operated as a catering company, food truck, and pop-up shop, and began shipping its vegan chicken nationwide in August. “I was born and raised in Orange County, one mile away from the brick-and mortar-location,” Torres told VegNews. “‘My parents are immigrants and since I grew up in Orange County, I wanted our first location to be in the place where I grew up.” 

The menu at Eat Love’s new storefront will revolve around seitan-based fried chicken served in the form of sandwiches and bucket meals, reminiscent of those available at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). “We are better than KFC and Chick-fil-A because we want to share amazing and delicious food without harming animals and without harming our health,” Torres said. “We actually really care about animals, the environment, social issues, your health, and the world.” In addition to chicken, the shop will serve Eat Love’s famed desserts such as chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwiches, fresh-baked cookies, and fudge brownies. 

In 2015, Torres and her husband Enrique—who weighed a combined total of 610 pounds—transitioned to a plant-based diet after Enrique was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Enrique was able to reverse his diagnosis, while Lynn lost 153 pounds, inspiring her to create a vegan company that provides comfort food without hurting animals. “I understand that food is the way we connect with one another. It’s the way we identify ourselves, our culture, and our history,” Torres said. “When we tell someone that the food they have been eating is wrong, because it’s harmful to animals, the environment, and health, we are not attacking their plate—we are attacking their roots, their sense of belonging, their grandmother who created a meal with so much love that they shared.” Torres hopes that Eat Love’s food becomes a bridge between generations and cultures by bringing a vegan option, literally and figuratively, to the table. “I believe that the way we can create change is by spreading love, and to me food is love,” Torres said. “I hope that people take our food and share it with their loved ones and that this action brings up a conversation about veganism.”