Put on your best walking shoes and carry cash—June 28 is National Food Truck Day. These roaming restaurants have served the vegan community well. From outstanding tacos to pupusas to fusion food, there’s a vegan food truck for it. However, these mobile kitchens are so much more than a convenient spot to grab a tasty, cheap meal; vegan food trucks are molding street food culture and creating both an awareness and demand for plant-based eats. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Seabirds (@seabirdskitchen) on

Encouraging new entrepreneurs
There is a lot of financial risk that comes with opening a restaurant, and few home cooks are able to front this cost. While purchasing, renovating, and operating a truck still presents a financial challenge, it is far more manageable than taking over a lease and dealing with building codes and other messy brick-and-mortar permits. Food trucks provide an affordable entryway into the food business for up-and-coming companies. Seabirds Kitchen, an Orange County, CA vegan hotspot, got its start in 2010 selling its humble yet addictive tacos out of a food truck. Today, it has two stunning brick-and-mortar locations and a third in the works, along with an extensive brunch, lunch, and dinner menu. Those who have had the delicious privilege of dining at Seabirds have food trucks to thank for the Beer Battered Avo Taco and the seductively good Chaffle (a thick, fluffy churro waffle topped with ice cream, warm chocolate sauce, and walnuts). In Louisville, KY, the vegan restaurant and brewery, V-Grits, also got its start as a food truck. After years of serving Southern-style vegan comfort food on wheels and winning “Best Food Truck in the City” in 2017, the owners partnered with a local brewer and opened the hip gathering place in late 2018. Now Louisvillians can enjoy their loaded vegan mac and cheese and a beer while seated at a table, instead of on the curb. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jackfruit Cafe (@jackfruitcafe) on

Reaching underserved communities 
Food deserts—pockets of neighborhoods without access to fresh foods—are present throughout the nation, severing the residents of these communities from any nourishment not found in a bodega or convenience store. While it may be more profitable to park a truck at a vegan festival or a bustling financial district catering to the white collar lunch crowd, some food truck owners are driving into the heart of these underserved neighborhoods. In the greater Los Angeles area, the Jackfruit Cafe has made an effort to bring wholesome yet familiar veganized foods to “the hood,” selling its Jackfruit Bowls and Cauliflower Wings to residents of South LA. In Michigan, the retro diner-style food truck, Shimmy Shack, services all areas of greater Detroit, and while it now claims its own brick-and-mortar, the truck still roams the areas that need it most. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FFC | Plant Based Ice Cream (@frozenfruitco) on

Attracting non-vegans
While vegan options seem to be virtually everywhere—at least in urban areas and along the coasts—there is still a stigma attached with the “V” word. Some omnivores would be hard-pressed to walk into a vegan restaurant, but a food truck on the street is far less of a commitment (there are no walls or doors to box you in). Vegan food trucks that plant themselves on city streets, rather than at vegan festivals, can entice non-vegans with their creative truck art and undeniable aromas. There are countless vegan trucks across the country, but The Pizza Plant may be one of the most eye-popping. Decked out with bright blues and greens, this tour bus-sized mobile pizzeria draws in every kind of eater (even those who are gluten-free). Just one slice of its Not Your Grandma’s pizza is enough to make a convert out of any carnivore. Equally as vibrant, the pleasantly pink Frozen Fruit Co. truck has become the modern Mr. Frosty, offering locals and tourists a taste of its minimal ingredient vegan ice cream and soft-serve. No one will miss their dairy-and-chemical-filled Strawberry Shortcake bar or Fudgsicle after sampling a scoop of the ultra-creamy Frozen Fruit Co. Chocolate. Made with just three ingredients, it’s quite possibly the purest and most luscious chocolate ice cream we’ve ever tasted. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Word Of Mouth Truck (@wordofmouthtruck) on

Fostering creativity 
We love street food classics—tacos, tamales, pupusas, grilled cheese, pizza slices, acai bowls—and most days we’re content with these staples. However, every now and then we’re down to try something a bit more inventive, and food trucks have become the canvas for creative cooks to play. In Austin, food trailer Wasota Vegan Paradise offers crowds authentic veganized Nigerian food such as Akara Fritters and oil-free Sweet Potato Porridge. In Los Angeles, the Word of Mouth Truck is mashing up indulgent favorites such as fried Mac and Cheese Bites and the Munchwrap (similar to Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme). Even Portland, ME is home to the Totally Awesome Vegan Food Truck which has actually mastered the art of serving vegan pot pie in a cup. Bring on the mashups; we’ll try anything once (and probably many more times). 

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Pizza Plant (@thepizzaplantusa) on

Celebrating National Food Truck Day
Food truck collective Roaming Hunger has declared Friday June 28 National Food Truck Day, organizing a massive fleet of trucks to celebrate by offering customers discounts and freebies. With over 40 participating cities across the US and Canada, we can’t name them all, but you can find local deals on the holiday’s event website. To provide a taste of what’s on offer: Boston’s vegan-friendly Zaaki truck will be giving away a free meal to the first 50 customers, Atlanta’s Flavors of Africa is offering $1 off any item (and has clearly marked vegan options), and the aforementioned The Pizza Plant is offering its first 28 customers a 6” Not Your Grandma’s pizza for a discounted price of $5 (gluten-free excluded). What these deals tell us: take your lunch break early and get in line to score vegan food. 

Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

Photo credit: The Pizza Plant

Want more of today’s best plant-based news, recipes, and lifestyle?
Get our award-winning magazine!

Subscribe