Vegan Fast Food - Peace In Every Bite
Attention SoCal! Next time you find yourself in Riverside, down around 1201 University Avenue Ste. # 115, there’s an up-and-coming vegan fast food spot that everyone should check out, whether or not you live the vegan lifestyle yourself, Veg & Go Plant Based Fast Food, a 100% vegan restaurant, is redefining how people view plant-based food. It’s a comfort food joint that sells a variety of burgers, hot dogs, veg rolls, cheesy fries, desserts, you name it. They even have a secret menu you can ask about or look for on Instagram.
Veg & Go was established by the young SoCal couple Brandin Phu Phan and Chloe Macrae in 2021, right in the middle of the pandemic. It would take prodigious amounts of grit and determination to pull off, but they did, and they did it well. During my first conversation with Phan, I could tell that his passion for Veganism was a huge part of their early success. As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, this first-generation American knows the trials and tribulations of the immigrant’s story and is extremely driven, hard-working, and attentive to detail. Phan has been meat-free since the first grade for over thirty years and strictly vegan for the past eight years.
Phan learned about the vegan restaurant business by working in and managing them since he was a teenager; he learned the business very thoroughly. The food is not only delicious, but it is also very obviously beautiful as well. I asked Phan where this creativity came from; he responded: “It comes from my imagination, my heart, and my soul…food is art.” Veg & Go is a very well-reviewed restaurant, five stars across the board. With people saying: “The flavor of their burgers was spot on.” “They validate parking and genuinely care about your experience.” “[Phan], in particular, was freaking rad…couldn’t believe how on top of everything he was and how quickly he worked. He really knew his stuff.”
I asked Phan what he thought the secret to their success was, and without hesitation, he replied: “Love. The secret ingredient is love and hard work…I pretend like every meal we prepare is for my own mother or a queen or king…sometimes I only get about four hours of sleep a night, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.” Phan also doled out a lot of credit for their success to his wife and his staff. Phan noted: “It really depends on her as well. We are in this together; we are both equally Veg & Go.” It was also evident that Phan had created a team-oriented environment. “We consider our employees family,” Phan stated when describing his team. The team spirit was apparent when we spoke—Phan was standing out front talking with his staff and greeting his customers and business neighbors, just being a very present leader.
Next, I asked Phan if he had any expansion plans. He said yes and added: “We are trying to lock down a spot by the end of next year…We need to add to the staff. We’re trying to find a good family-oriented team with good structure so we can expand.”
Finally, I inquired: So what does Veg & Go and its success say about the future of veganism? His passion for the vegan lifestyle went into hyper-drive with this one. “Veganism is becoming a thing!” he answered fervently. “I feel like it is the future…we noticed a change about five years ago. The world overall is transitioning to veganism; today, a lot of (mainstream) fast food restaurants have a plant-based option…our way of thinking about food is evolving. We’re finding out we can live without killing… people are realizing if you want to eat for life, stay away from death because remember, we are what we eat!”