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Black Business Month: Vegan food truck co-owners hope to make healthy eating more accessible

The co-owners of VegoEatz in Tacoma are on a mission to teach minorities in their community about the benefits of plant-based eating.

TACOMA, Wash. — The owners of a new Tacoma-based food truck are turning their passion for health and fitness into a profit with their company VegoEatz.

Matthew Scully, Brian Kariuki and chef Marcus Coach are on a mission to teach minorities in their community about the benefits of plant-based eating.

The guys, who first bonded over their passion for health and fitness in junior high gym class, are now husbands and fathers looking to keep their own families healthy. 

"Being young African American males trying to find our spirituality and digging into roots, we didn't always thrive off meats and things of that nature," Scully said. 

It's a journey that led them to a plant-based diet in 2017. 

"At first when I told my family and my friends they thought we were crazy, but that's because they don't have any education on the options or what veganism is about," said Kariuki who credits being a vegan for his healthy skin and higher energy levels. 

Scully said his sister and friends saw similar benefits when he taught them about plant-based eating.

"Everyone thinks veganism is all salad bowls and stuff like that but we actually have burgers and tacos," said Coach, who was the first among the friend group to go vegan. 

In 2019, the friends decided to take their secret sauce to the public. 

"To change the narrative about African American foods," Kariuki said. "A lot of it is stigmatized with soul food and oily food."

They took a class on how to start a food truck business at Highline College in Des Moines, pooled their money together and bought their first food cart for $20,000. 

"The first seven months we did $80,000," Kariuki said, who added that Vego Eatz is on track to make $300,000 this year.

But the friends said the money was a small part of why they started the business. 

"We need more positive images of black males other than what we see on tv," Kariuki said.

According to US Census Data, African American business owners account for 10% of all US businesses. In Seattle, it's 1.2%.

With August being National Black Business Month, the friends said their roles as entrepreneurs also extend to their communities. 

"Rapping, athletes, that's cool but there are so many other ways you can give back to your community and be successful," Kariuki said. 

After shutting down their business during COVID-19 and reopening this year with a new focus on summer festivals and events, their advice to other young African American entrepreneurs is to be consistent. 

"Create a plan, follow through with that plan when things go wrong create another plan follow through with that plan and just don't stop," Scully said. 

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