Eat Just is stepping up with a new “Brunch Is for Everyone” initiative in Tennessee that supports the LGBTQ+ community as the rights of its members continue to be threatened by lawmakers nationwide. In more than a dozen states nationwide, conservative legislation has been introduced to ban drag shows from public spaces.
Eat Just is taking on these laws, in Tennessee and nationwide, by sponsoring drag brunches and serving vegan eggs while raising funds to support the LGBTQ+ community’s fight against these laws.
“When we learned about the recent wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including laws going after drag brunches, we wanted to do something,” Tom Rossmeissl, Head of Global Marketing for Just Egg, tells VegNews. “After all, we’re a brand that both celebrates brunch and is working toward building a more just and inclusive world.”
“And make no mistake: these laws aren’t just messing with brunch. They’re sending a message to LGBTQ+ Tennesseans and Americans that you’re somehow not welcome or appreciated,” Rossmeissl says. “That’s divisive and wrong.”
Throughout the initiative, donations will be made to social justice organizations Human Rights Campaign and Tennessee Equality Project, and Eat Just will match customer tips given to performers.
Brunch is for everyone
The first recorded instance of a drag brunch was in New York City in the 1990s. It was originally conceived as a way for drag performers to earn extra income during daytime hours.
As the concept gained traction, drag brunches became popular with LGBTQ+ communities and allies who were looking for a fun, inclusive way to celebrate weekends with friends. Brunch, a popular weekend activity, provided a perfect opportunity for drag performers to showcase their talents while also entertaining guests with humor and sass.
In Tennessee, new legislation construes drag shows as “adult-oriented cabaret performances” and prohibits shows that include “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” in public places or anywhere where minors could be present. Violating this law twice is classified as a felony.
Last weekend, Eat Just kicked off its initiative at Atomic Rose, a venue in Memphis, TN that puts on drag shows on Friday and Saturday nights with drag brunches and bingo on Sundays.
“We are so grateful to Just Egg for their courageous and generous sponsorship of our Rainbow Brick Brunch,” Bella DuBalle, Show Director and Host of Atomic Rose, tells VegNews. “They came all the way from California to stand in solidarity with us at Atomic Rose for (what would have been, prior to a federal temporary restraining order) our first all-ages brunch since the new law went into effect.”
On Friday, the day before the first Just Egg-sponsored brunch, United States District Judge Thomas Parker issued a temporary injunction, blocking the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from going into effect for two weeks. In his statement, Parker cited that the legislation was overly broad and that Tennessee failed to make a compelling enough argument about the necessity of this new law. “Ultimately, the statute’s broad language clashes with the First Amendment’s tight constraints,” Parker said.
“We were honored to be the first venue chosen for their Brunch Is For Everyone initiative,” DuBalle says. “Not only did JUST Egg match performers’ tips (resulting in the audience showering us with unparalleled love), they also raised funds for the Human Rights Campaign and Tennessee Equality Project to help protect our vulnerable community from a continuing onslaught of legislative attacks.”
Vegan eggs defend drag brunch
For the show at Atomic Rose, Eat Just partnered with local comfort food eatery Plant Based Heat to serve Just Egg breakfast sandwiches. The drag brunch drew massive crowds to support the cause, with standing room only. As a result of the initiative, performers made more money than they had during past brunches, and all of the breakfast sandwiches sold out.
“Our sponsor kept our packed-house audience energized with delicious breakfast sandwiches that were plant-based and completely cruelty-free,” DuBalle says. “My entertainers and I provided a family-friendly drag show, full of love and equally free of harm. We think it’s an egg-cellent match.”
While the anti-drag show law is still in limbo, another law targeting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community—which bans most gender-affirming medical care—was signed into law earlier this year by the state’s Governor Bill Lee. Images of the Republican governor recently surfaced from his high school yearbook in which Lee appeared to be posing in drag (an art form he intends to ban).
“We were proud to support and stand with the Atomic Rose drag brunch in Memphis last weekend, while raising money for the Human Rights Campaign and the Tennessee Equality Project,” Rossmeissl says. “And we expect to do more in the coming months.”
Outside of Tennessee, similar anti-drag show laws have been introduced in Arizona, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, among others. Eat Just’s efforts can be supported on a national level by donating to the cause here.
Just Egg takes a stand
Made from a base of mung bean protein, Just Egg—made its US retail debut in 2019 and has since expanded to thousands of retailers worldwide. The vegan egg was developed to give consumers a cruelty-free and sustainable choice as Just Egg uses 98-percent less water and emits 93-percent fewer greenhouse gasses compared to traditional eggs.
Early this year, Eat Just counted its biggest foodservice launch with 7-Eleven Canada, where a vegan sandwich made with Just Egg, Violife’s vegan cheddar, and Impossible Foods’ meatless breakfast sausage hit the menu at 550 stores. This launch coincided with Eat Just marking the milestone of selling 300 million vegan eggs and reaching price parity with premium animal-derived eggs.
And while Eat Just typically focuses on outcompeting chicken eggs with its popular Just Egg, the company has previously taken a stand on other issues that affect us all.
Last year during Earth Month (April), Eat Just took on climate change deniers in Washington, DC with billboards, posters, and a food truck. The truck served vegan Just Egg-stuffed inspired by politicians—including Ted Cruz—who deny climate change despite scientific evidence that the human-caused disaster is in fact real.
“Each of our sandwiches deliciously pokes fun of members of Congress (of both parties) who haven’t taken the threat of climate change seriously enough,” Rossmeissl told VegNews at the time. “And maybe Senator Cruz can finally do something good for the environment by having a delicious plant-based egg sandwich.”