Three Black barbers are the faces of a vegan food shop in New Orleans, determined to show everyone that being vegan doesn’t mean eating bland food.
The idea started with Roy Joseph III, who about a year ago decided that he wanted to eat vegan and cut out meat.
As he got more and more into vegan cooking, he would bring his tasty dishes to the barbershop and letting his colleagues and customers try it. His co-workers, Ryan Billew and Ali Williams convinced him to start taking his food public, as a business, and together the three of them opened Vegan Wit a Twist.
“We want our people to wake up. The Black community is plagued by disease. It’s the food that is giving us these issues. It’s not always genetics. While our food is beautiful, it’s hurting us. It’s time to cut some of that stuff out,” Joseph said.
And the men do mean vegan…with a twist. They told Travel Noire that they use their dishes to show people how much flavor and seasoning – quintessential to New Orleans cooking – could be found in vegan food.
“We’re from New Orleans, which is known for its cuisine,” Billew said. “When people hear vegan, they automatically think bland. We’re throwing away the bland idea and adding in New Orleans flavor.”
While admitting they are by no means level 10 vegans, the men just hope that they will be able to get more people from the community eating healthier, but in a way that still tastes amazing.
“We go by what we like,” Joseph said. If we don’t like it, we won’t keep it on the menu. We aim to make stuff that you’ll want to eat almost every day.”