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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Souley Vegan: cruelty-free and authentically Creole in California

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Louisiana charm in the heart of Los Angeles? It’s alive and thriving, thanks to Tamearra Dyson and her Creole cooking that blesses your heart and satisfies your soul with every bite.

Does it feel clichéd to talk about soul food nourishing more than just your body? Maybe to those who’ve never had the pleasure of sitting down to some Creole creativity, family-style.

The ritual is part of the experience, sitting shoulder to shoulder with loved ones or complete strangers, united by a shared passion for flavour and fulfillment. Few people understand this more than Tamearra Dyson, owner and chef at Souley Vegan.

Growing up green

Before we get to the menu at Souley Vegan, taking a look at how and why Dyson decided to pursue cooking as a career gives important insight into her recipe choices.

One of three children, Dyson recalls her mother cooking vegetarian more often than not. Not because of any labels, just because that’s what she could do with the ingredients available to her. It left an indelible mark and Dyson herself grew up to be vegan, creating signature dishes in her late teens that would set her on the path to opening her own restaurant. That wasn’t always the plan though.

2007 was the year that everything changed. Realising that a career in the medical field would offer little in the way of passion fulfilment, Dyson turned her back on a promising role and threw herself into her long-term dream. The result would eventually evolve into Souley Vegan.

 

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Making Souley Vegan a household name

A single mother with no savings behind her, many thought her plan was ill-advised, but after becoming a regular at food markets and events, plus offering vegan catering services locally, it was time to grow. The problem was, there was no money to make it happen.

Growing up as the daughter of a proud and resourceful mother, Dyson channeled the strength she admired in her guiding influence. She humbled herself for the good of her own daughter and the community, which she knew needed tasty, nourishing and affordable food. It wasn’t easy, but 2009 saw her paying a deposit for a physical location and wondering how she was going to bring her vision to life with just $27 dollars to her name.

Getting a glimpse into the struggles that Dyson overcame is crucial to understanding just how phenomenal her success is now. An acclaimed chef, public speaker and friend to numerous influential celebrities (hey, Oprah!), she has created a platform that spreads the vegan message from nothing but love and grit.

Serving up some love, Louisiana style

 

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Regardless of how influential Dyson herself is now, her food has remained authentically Creole and always 100% plant-based. With availability in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, she has garnered a huge legion of loyal fans that can’t get enough of the southern flavours and hospitality on offer.

Read our guide to the best vegan restaurants in Los Angeles.

A look at the menu is enough to make any mouth water and helpfully, Dyson has added purple hearts next to items that customers always really enjoy. Great for new vegans or those simply open to trying plant-based food, this is the level of inclusivity that Dyson embodies.

A quick cheat-sheet of fan favourites to look out for includes:

  • F.L.O.C (For Lovers of Calamari)
  • Dirty Cajun Fries
  • New Orleans Okra Gumbo
  • Crispy Seitan and Waffles
  • Southern Fried Tofu
  • Proud Mary Burger

You don’t need to look any further than the customer reviews to know that this is an LA vegan restaurant that you need to visit. The dishes are well thought out, respectful of the culture they embody but still progressive enough for different lifestyles to get in on the action. Plus, when you support Souley Vegan, you prove that dreams can come true, even when you’ve got less than $50 in the whole world.

Amy Buxton
Amy is a committed ethical vegan, raising a next generation compassionate human with her husband and their beloved dog, Boo. A freelance writer with a background in PR, she decided to use the COVID lockdown period to refocus her client base and has come to The Vegan Review as a senior writer and editor, before moving into her external content director role. "What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself" is Amy's mantra, courtesy of Tom from The Good Life.