7 Black-Owned Vegan Businesses to Support Now, And Everyday
This week, protests raged across the US as anger and frustration poured onto the streets of Los Angeles, New York City, Minneapolis and Washington D.C., and many other cities across the nation. As we contemplate what we can do as consumers, we want to highlight black-owned businesses that we can support right now and every day.
We’ve made it easy for you to discover some incredible black-owned brands, from vegan restaurants to cruelty-free beauty; these companies are bringing better-for-you goods and experiences into the world. Support them and take some of your purchasing power and direct it to one of your local community nonprofits fighting for social justice and equality.
1. Trio Plant-Based - Minneapolis, Minnesota
As one of the only Black-owned vegan restaurants in Minnesota, Trio Plant-Based serves thoughtful (and mouth-watering) vegan comfort food. The restaurant is owned by Louis Hunter, a man who overcame adversity to now own a burgeoning local business. The company’s Instagram explains: “3 years ago Louis faced 20 years in prison for unjust charges. Miraculously after fighting the case for 2 years, by the grace of God, the charges were dismissed.” Hunter was wrongly arrested after a protest in 2016 for his cousin, Philando Castile, a black man killed by police officers in 2016.
Hunter’s Trio Plant-Based in the city where George Floyd was slain in an act of insufferable and despicable police brutality. During protests which erupted in Minneapolis over the death of Floyd, Hunter closed his business. As he safeguarded his restaurant and offered refuge to journalists as armed police confronted and taunted him. Hunter and his family did confirm they are safe now. They have also been overwhelmed with community support; they say they’ve received numerous donations from all around the world. “We love you all and we can not express what your support means to us,” reads a May 31, 2020 Instagram post from the restaurant. Following the protests Trio Plant-Based handed out 300 soul bowls, one of their popular dishes, to community members.
Hunter is just getting started bringing positivity and opportunity to the community. “In less than five years, my dream is to own a building and to build a garden on top,” Hunter told The UpTake, a Minnesota-based publication, in November 2019. “In seven years, I would like to open a small farm. I want to hire teenagers, teenage boys, to work the farm.”
Even if you are not in the Minneapolis area to eat at the restaurant, you can still support by donating directly or purchasing a gift card.
2. Partake Foods
Following an investment from hip-hop mogul Jay-Z’s venture capital firm, Marcy Venture Partners, Partake Foods has taken its cookie brand to new heights. Jay-Z’s investment also made Partake founder Denise Woodard the first-ever black woman to raise over $1 million for a food startup company.
After Woodard’s daughter had a near-fatal incident due to an allergic reaction, she created the brand to bring a vegan and allergy-free cookie snack options to the masses. Food allergies impact one in 13 kids; research finds that African Americas have a threefold higher risk for food allergies than the general population. Clearly, there is a demand for this type of product: Partake recently landed massive distribution through Target and is carried in other retailers around the US. They are also available for purchase online.
3. Slutty Vegan - Atlanta, Georgia
This burger joint has quickly become a vegan-food staple attracting attention from all over the world. Founder and owner Pinky Cole says you will get a euphoric experience eating her plant-based burgers—that’s what inspired the name, Slutty Vegan. The Sultty Vegan mission is bigger than the food itself; they say they are creating a cultural experience around plant-based foods.
Cole, a Baltimore native, dreamed up the idea in her apartment not having any idea it would grow at the rate it did. "It literally was only supposed to be a ghost restaurant where people only order food online and they pick up through a delivery service," Cole told CNN in an interview last year. "But I wasn't thinking big enough because what I felt was only going to be a ghost restaurant turned out to be one of the biggest concepts and brands in America." And, that it has become. You may encounter a long line when you visit, but anyone who has bitten into one of these juicy, sultry (and slutty) burgers will tell you it is 100% worth the wait.
There is a good chance you’ve seen SheaMostuire on the shelves of CVS, Target, and other mainstream retailers. This is all thanks to the business savvy of SheaMoisture Founder and CEO Richelieu Dennis who started the company in 1991 with his college roommate and mother. With SheaMoisture, you’ll find unisex beauty and grooming solutions all made using decades-old family traditions; the lines of skin and hair preparations were learned from Dennis’ grandmother Sofi Tucker. The brands and their products embody culture, heritage and ethics. They are always cruelty-free and widely available all at an attainable price point.
5. The Lip Bar
Melissa Butler, The Lip Bar founder, started this beauty brand while she was working on Wall Street. She was “tired of the beauty industry's lack of diversity, lack of inclusion and excessive amounts of unnecessary chemicals” so was inspired to create The Lip Bar. Now, Butler is providing clean beauty to the masses sold at over 450 Target retail locations and available directly on her website. You’ll find a wide array of makeup, as well as their conveniently curated Face Kits, which you can select based on your unique skin shade. Even after being turned down by investors on the hit TV show Shark Tank, Butler was more determined than ever. “Our rejection on Shark Tank was not easy, but at that moment, I had to make a decision,” said Butler. “And I decided that I would not give someone else power over my dreams.”
Plantmade is a plant-based protein line designed with people of color in mind. Will all vegan, non-GMO ingredients, this better-for-you plant-protein is clean—and incredibly tasty. The company says they created Plantmade out of lack of representation. People of color—and more specifically black people—are often not included in health and wellness-related topics and issues, founder Shaun Nzeribe points out. “There are a lot of stigmas that exist internally within the community,” Nzeribe told The Beet in an interview. “People are often made to feel as though they aren’t black enough or weird when they seek out personal care. So we wanted to create a hub to start conversations, create representation, as well as normalcy around health and wellness.” This LA-based brand is doing just that. You can find an array of plant-based protein flavors available on their website.
7. Veltree in Charlotte, North Carolina & VTree in Los Angeles
North Carolina is lucky to be the home of Veltree, a plant-based foodie experience located in the heart of the city. Dubbed a “soul food oracle” Chef Velvet is the powerhouse behind the restaurant and brainchild of its southern classic vegan dishes. They take pride in the daily-changing menu, which is 100% vegan and gluten-free. Chef Velvet is a sought after celebrity chef, entrepreneur, and author who is a social justice activist and public speaker. She also is the co-founder of “Vegan in the Hood” a global program that teaches underserved communities the importance of community gardens, self-sustainability and the life benefits of a healthy diet.
Also, VTree restaurant, founded by Nick Cannon in partnership with Chef Velvet, recently opened in Los Angeles, California. Now, you can get the Veltree soul food experience on the West Coast as well thanks to Mr. Cannon.