Vital Foodz street food vendor finds its first permanent home in Globe Town after two years on the road, serving Caribbean vegan dishes said to have healing qualities.
Vital Foodz ‘Cari-vegan’ food vendor has found a permanent home on Old Ford Road, becoming the newest plant-based addition to Globe Town’s wellbeing mecca.
Found on a small courtyard just off Old Ford, Vital Foodz is slightly removed from the action of Globe Road, but you wouldn’t know it from the steady stream of customers entering the restaurant on a Thursday lunchtime.
Though their fifth-ever daytime service in the new location might not be as hectic as the food markets and festivals that Vital Foodz is used to, loyal customers from their food truck days have travelled from Whitechapel during their lunchbreak for a taste of the nourishing vegan fare.
They are greeted enthusiastically by old friends Warren Jeffrey and Andre Smith who launched Vital Foodz truck two years ago and have set up a permanent shop in Globe Town thanks to the popularity of their plentiful Caribbean bowls.
Don’t be deceived by its makeshift signage and rudimentary interior, though the restaurant is still in its nascent stages, years of cooking in a cramped food van have perfected their plant-based recipes, which vary depending on seasonal produce.
The menu includes vegan burgers, Caribbean sides and fresh juices, but the most popular option is the bespoke vital bowls. Starting from £10, the bowls come in various sizes featuring jerk jack fruit, sweet and sour wheat meat and pumpkin curry, among other proteins, grains and vegetable sides.
Jeffrey and Smith hope to open people’s eyes to the health benefits of plant-based food and challenge vegan sceptics with bold Caribbean flavours not often associated with meat-free options.
The name, Vital Foodz, is a subtle nod towards Rastafarian Ital food from which head chef Smith takes his inspiration, a vegetarian diet principally intended to improve health and energy.
‘To get people eating vegan dishes, first, you have to convince them its not just rabbit food,’ laughs Smith: ‘Even if they only eat it once a week.’
For Smith, the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet are particularly important. Eight years ago he started having seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
After trying myriad drugs that did nothing to stop his symptoms, Smith gradually transitioned to a plant-based diet and hasn’t had another seizure for eight years.
Already a keen home chef, it was this experience that inspired Smith to pursue plant-based cooking and embark on his first professional culinary endeavour: Vital Foodz.
The dishes are primarily inspired by Smith’s Jamaican heritage, but he believes food shouldn’t be confined by boundaries and incorporates elements of Turkish, Caribbean and Ethiopian cuisines into his cooking.
Smith and Jeffrey both live South of the river but say they always wanted to open up a restaurant in our pocket of East London where they feel customers are more conscious of what they’re eating.
Vital Foodz is bringing its own brand of veganism from the Caribbean to Globe Town, a fresh and hearty alternative to its plant-based neighbours, Sazzy & Fran and the Gallery Cafe.
So next time you’re walking home along the Roman, or popping to Victoria Park in your lunch break, it’s well worth taking a short detour to Vital Foodz. This summer they’ll be expanding their offering to include sorbets, smoothies, and homemade spicy sauces.
And if you’re stuck on what to order we’d recommend the jerk jackfruit; it’ll have even the most committed carnivores questioning the veracity of its veganism.
For more vegan eateries in the area, see our guide to the best vegan cafes near Roman Road.
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