Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) – As the vegan community grows in Mobile, there is a higher demand for plant-based dishes at everyone’s favorite local spots.  

For the month of July, non-profit organizations Vegan Outreach, local group Awakening Respect and Compassion for all Sentient Beings, or ARC, have partnered with local chefs to bridge this gap.   

Yuri Mitzkewich has been coordinating the Vegan Chef Challenge in Mobile and all over the Southeast in recent years on behalf of Vegan Outreach.  

“It’s something that’s growing and I’m happy that more people are learning about it because it’s definitely something that’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment, that’s something we definitely need more of these days is all of us sort of pitching in to make a difference that way,” he said.  

Local chefs like Lella Lowe at the Redeemer Community Café at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer have jumped the curve on this challenge.  

Lowe and her volunteers have been serving wholesome plant-based meals to the food insecure every Wednesday evening from 4:30 to 6 on a “pay-what-you-can” basis for the past 6 years.  

Many of her regulars are now plant-based enthusiasts.  

She wants to show the community that eating pant-based offers a whole new variety of delicious foods. 

“At our church, we have an animal ministry, and we have an environmental ministry, and as you know, if you love animals, you don’t eat them and if you want to save the planet, you eat more plant-based, whole-foods meals,” Lowe explained.  

Tracey Glover, local coordinator with ARC, is challenging Mobilians to expand their pallet – she thinks you might be surprised.  

She hopes to make this challenge an annual event in coming years.  

“This challenge is not just for vegans, it’s for everybody and in part it’s to show non-vegans how delicious vegan food is,” Glover said. 

Glover hopes that when the challenge is over, many vegan options will stick on local menus.  

This seems plausible, as chefs like Benjamin Ross at Iron Hand Brewing have embraced the challenge and seen success. 

“We’ve got a lot of people who are regular, meat-eating clientele who are trying the, trying the vegan stuff and finding that it’s, ‘Hey, that’s, that’s actually pretty good,’” Ross said.  

For others, like former Top Chef contestant and former Executive Chef of Alabama, Jim Smith at Hummingbird Way, the challenge has only revitalized the love for creating plant-based dishes. 

“What it has sparked in me is a little bit of a renewed enthusiasm for coming up with new ideas and you know, really getting those creative juices to design dishes that are specifically intended for a group of people who don’t eat any meat and no animal products,” Smith said.   

Like many local restaurants, the vegan community’s outreach has shaped the menu in recent years. 

Other restaurants participating in the challenge include:

  • The Noble South
  • Vegan Time
  • Sunflower Cafe
  • Rice Asian Grill and Sushi Bar
  • Nova Market

Visit the Vegan Chef Challenge official website to see a full list of participants, explore their menus, and cast your vote.

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.