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Soul food gets healthy

Smothered Tempeh with green beans, mashed potatoes and cornbread MARK L. BROWN PHOTO

Smothered Tempeh with green beans, mashed potatoes and cornbread MARK L. BROWN PHOTO

By Phreddy Wischusen
The Michigan Citizen

Detroit Vegan Soul (DVS) celebrates the grand opening of their brick-and-mortar café Sept. 28 from 3-7 p.m. The event will feature live music, a ribbon cutting and a free tasting of some of DVS’ most popular dishes.

DVS began in February 2012 as a meal delivery and catering company. Its founders say they started the business to “make good, healthy food accessible to everyone and break the cycle of diet-related diseases in Detroit’s communities.” The REVOLVE program, which funded the recent Light up on Livernois event, connected DVS with the space at 8029 Agnes.

DVS makes “comfort foods” from ingredients that are fresh, mostly organic, and completely plant-based with no GMOs, additives, preservatives, refined flours, sugars, dairy, eggs or animal by-products. “We’re showing people you don’t have to miss out on flavor to be vegan, and you don’t even have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy good vegan soul food,” said Erika Boyd, co-owner and chef.

Boyd challenged myths about the African American diet. “African Americans are not strangers to healthy eating. Traditionally, soul food is largely comprised of vegetables, grain and legumes. Growing your own food, having gardens, tending to the soil are things African Americans have traditionally done.”

Co-owner Kirsten Ussery reminded the Michigan Citizen that Africans brought many of nutritious staples of soul cooking from Africa, including yams and collard greens. “Only as foods have become more processed has some soul food become  unhealthy,” she says. Ussery hopes opening this permanent  location will create “opportunities for learning or re-learning around food.”

“Our cultural food is soul food,” says Boyd. She adds they chose to make their business about soul food, because “all Americans can relate to comfort food, whether they are Black or white. We wanted to remove the stigma from vegan food. As soon as you say Soul food people know its going to be packed with flavor.”

Starting Sept. 28, restaurant hours will be Wednesdays to Saturdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m.-7p.m. The menu and more information can be found at www.detroitvegansoul.com

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