Soulgood, a Dallas-based food truck, is catering and serving fast food favorites without the fast-food waistline.
Clever names and even more clever recipes are changing the North Texas vegan and vegetarian scene thanks to Soulgood Founder Cynthia Nevels. “Buffalo No Cluckin’ Way,” “Vin Diezel Chili Dog,” and “Where’s the Beef Street Taco” are just a sample of the vegan dishes Nevels cooks up to make healthy food fun again.
Beyond owning and operating what she says is the “first vegan food truck in Dallas,” Nevels is keen on making food that’s accompanied by an inspiring message.
After losing her youngest son Tyler in 2015 to cystic fibrosis, the local entrepreneur founded Soulgood to offer “organic fast food with integrity and no regrets.” 5 percent of her revenue goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as well as other local charities.
“I’m really dedicated to my mission, and my purpose is that I feel the more people I can serve and get healthy plant-based fast food options to their hands easily, the better off we’ll be,” Nevels told Dallas Innovates.
Nevels has a background in management consulting, and was able to take her more traditional business skills—like accounting and finance—and pair them with a passion for learning the restaurant industry.
She says starting a new venture comes with its challenges, but since founding in 2016 Nevels has been able to grown the business to over six figures. That’s allowed her to move on from full-time consulting to solely focus on Soulgood.
It’s needed, too—Soulgood has recently made waves in the entertainment scene, specifically with the tailgate and backstage experience.
Soulgood was first drafted into the NFL to cater for the 2018 draft as the only vegan vendor at the event. Her booth was small at first, but now she’s officially part of the Dallas Cowboys tailgate.
“They tried the ‘Vin Diezel Chili Dog,’ which is one of my favorites, and loved it,” Nevels says. “After that, they reached out to me and said, ‘Would you be interested in your food trucks coming to the game?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I would love that.'”
Much to the enjoyment of her daughter, Nevels and Soulgood then got to experience the rock-star life when they recently catered for pop sensation Billie Eilish (who’s a vegan). Backstage at American Airlines Center, Nevels and her crew catered a full day of meals and snacks.
“I love her uniqueness. I love her advocacy. She’s in your face, balls to the wall hardcore about our lifestyle and saving the animals—I love that,” Nevels says. “To see someone of her caliber and so young and to be so talented and have a global platform and be brave enough to say, ‘I stand for this,’ I was all for it.”
There is a warmth about Soulgood and Nevels, flowing from the bright orange color of her truck, the hot food she serves, and how much joy she has for her career.
“It has such meaning to me because of my son,” she says. “I always told people in the beginning, I felt like an artist. It was like when you get inspired by something and your ideas just come from somewhere. I go with the flow. This is the first time in my career where I’ve had the freedom to be free.”
Nevels describes Soulgood dishes as the foods most people are used to eating, but that actually makes them feel good. It’s “veganizing,” she says—a simple way to look at food differently.
“It’s the challenge of taking your traditional Southern foods and fast foods that are typically very bad for you, and ‘veganizing’ them without the overwhelming fat, salt, and sugar. That’s what we crave and what we’ve been assimilated to desire in,” she says. “So we have to find other ways, like with the herbs and spices and seasonings from the earth to replace salt and all of the rest.”
Nevels believes the food we put in our bodies can heal from the inside out, and she is encouraging Dallas to give vegan a taste.
“Everything that you see from my marketing, from the truck, the design, to the names of my menu, I try to make things humorous and fun and light,” Nevels says. “I want you to have fun and be happy. And, that’s really the core of what Soulgood is now.”
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