Thursday, September 21, 2017

Try Vegan Food Truck

I've seen the Try Vegan (NJ) food truck at a few vegan events, but I didn't actually "try" them until just recently at a semi-private event that was offering both vegan and non-vegan food (separate food truck).

I understand that their menu varies by event, but the menu on this day was so basic that I was quite shocked that people were literally lining up to try such boring items. I should note that the food was free to guests, so that could have something to do with it. I, personally, lined up in the interest of research.

The menu:
(whole wheat) WRAPS!
Portobello- portobello mushroom, lettuce, tomato, balsamic glaze
Falafel- falafel, lettuce, tomato, hummus, tahini
Veggie Burger- veggie burger, lettuce, tomato, special sauce

Translation: homogeneous wraps with lettuce, tomato, and 1-2 component variations. My well-fed vegan brain translated this to "generic offerings of uninspired items that people assume are the only things vegans eat."

Don't get me wrong; we all know that simple vegan food can be just as delicious as gourmet. My major issue with this menu is that this is the type of boring, token vegan food that you can expect to find at a rando diner in the middle of suburbia. Who would go through the trouble, expense, and effort to start up a vegan food truck business in order to offer unimaginative items we've all seen done a million times? This is not how you woo non-vegans who are genuinely interested in trying vegan food and seasoned vegans know better. Way better.

Still, I was open to the possibility that redemption would be found in the seasoning or "special sauce." 

It wasn't. The food I had from the Try Vegan food truck was abysmal. You might think that it pains me to say that, but it doesn't. Why? Because it was so bad that I'm actually mad about it. And it was free! Do you have any idea how ticked I'd be if I had actually paid for a dry/chewy wrap with lettuce, tomato, and superbly earthy portabello mushroom strips that I could maybe be convinced once traveled in a grocery bag alongside a bottle of balsamic vinegar? Very. And the reason I was angry wasn't because I pitied my own tastebuds, it was because I wanted to scream to the tons of people around me that were probably trying vegan food for the first time, "THIS IS NOT ALL WE'VE GOT!"

I take no pleasure in writing a negative review. I actually do not want to say these things. But, moreover, I do not want bad vegan food out there circulating. Why? Because, A) there is absolutely no reason for it, and B) if this is the first vegan thing a non-vegan tries, we're going to lose them forever. If my omnivorous Dad were to bite into this atrocity, the result would be a cacophony of Smug Omnivore Bingo insults and he'd be right. We can, we must, AND WE DO do better. Honestly, I thought this type of food was behind us.

To put this sad sandwich in context, this is the description of the last, mid-priced, vegetarian steak portobello mushroom sandwich I enjoyed: smoked portabello mushroom carpaccio sandwich with fried caper berries, caramelized onions, truffled kalamata olive tapenade, and arugula on grilled herb focaccia. THAT is how you do a vegan portobello sandwich. And you know what? Don't try to tell me "to each his own." There is intentional, thoughtful food and then there is nonsense.

From their website:

"Try Vegan focuses on what veganism is all about, eating right and living a healthy lifestyle. The most common question vegans are asked is "What do you eat?" Which is the exact question Try Vegan sets out to answer. We want to let people know veganism is not as restrictive as they think because it in fact opens up a whole new world full of culinary adventure!
The best way to push a message is to go to where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to you, which is how Try Vegan operates. Our vegan street food can be found throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and more. We want to make veganism awesome.

The Future is now. Try Vegan."

First off, veganism isn't about eating "right" and living a healthy lifestyle. Veganism is about not eating or using animal products. Period. There are health vegans and there are those that could give two figs; neither is "right," both are vegan.

Secondly, if Try Vegan is truly setting out to answer "What do [vegans] you eat," I have a newsflash: I am a longtime vegan and I surround myself with vegans and THIS IS NOT WHAT VEGANS EAT IN 2017! Anyone with an instagram account can tell you that vegan food is so much more than these options that peaked in 1994. Let me be clear: falafel, portabello mushrooms, and veggie burgers have their place, but served in a wrap with iceberg lettuce and tomato, they are anything but a "culinary adventure." I have to believe that the proprietors of Try Vegan must earnestly want to "make veganism awesome," but whether they actually believe they are doing so is another question entirely. In my opinion, they are making veganism ridiculously boring and unappealing. This is neither trite or mean-spirited, it is the truth and it is not doing animals any favors.

Assuming the people behind the Try Vegan food truck are committed vegans who truly want to spread the tenets of veganism, I implore them to make some improvements. As it stands, it's possible that what they're currently offering is doing more harm than good.

And, in light of the disappointing experience, the meek passivity of suggesting that people "Try" Vegan seems to be offered with a shrug, "Try this. If you don't like it, well, what can we say? You tried." The goal is for people to GO vegan and in order to make that happen, we have to do much better than what is going on here. Unrepresentative of good vegan food and New Jersey in general, the fact that this food is coming from the same state that brought us the GOAT vegan food truck- that's a damn shame.


  1. hear hear! Great review!

    Just curious are you familiar with any of their other offerings? Could this have just been a particularly uninspired night?

    1. I believe there was a "chicken parm" on their menu at the Bethlehem Vegfest, but their website isn't very clear about what the revolving menu includes.

  2. Ugh! There really is no place for terrible vegan food in 2017. I feel similarly about raw desserts at non-raw vegan places, they're usually sub par and we aren't going to convince people to go vegan by feeding them some squashed nuts rather than an amazing triple layer chocolate cake.

    1. Squashed nuts- LOL! Seriously, I know there's all different ways to promote veganism, but healthy options aren't exactly blowing the doors off the vegan club.

  3. I'm so glad you said this because I was thinking it! I've seen them at a few events but I can't get that excited for anything they were serving. Also, wtf healthy eating? Someone should bringthem a VT PB bomb.

    1. Great idea!!! That's certainly MY idea of eating "right."

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