Farmer’s Markets carry more than just fruits and vegetables. They also host food stands like Vegan Vibrationz, the pop-up I stumbled upon one Sunday morning as I picked up some produce.
As I took my first bite of Vegan Vibrationz tender and hearty Black Bean Mac Burger, I experienced nostalgia. The barbecue scent coming from the grill took me back to my summers as a child spent with family.
The char of the grill sent the earthy and smoky flavors into the air as it cooked and left me wanting more. This burger reminded me that I wasn’t missing out on anything as a vegan— especially burgers, thanks to Jovan Cole.
Meet Jovan Cole, or better known as “Vegan Vonnie.” At 30 years old, he is the creator and chef of Vegan Vibrationz in Dallas, Texas.
One can easily spot Vegan Vibrationz by its tall and bright green canopy with a large sign in big, bold letters at the Dallas Farmers Market. Each weekend, Chef Vonnie serves up delicious vegan food using a holistic, plant-based approach. The concept of Vegan Vibrationz stemmed from Cole’s love of food, community, and passion for creating a positive space.
One day in 2013, Cole was out in his Florida garden watering his plants when he had a realization that forever changed the way he looked at food.
“As I’m picking the tomatoes off my plant, something—my intuition—told me this is [my] connection to food. It told me to stop eating dead animals,” Cole said.
Cole never made the connection of a dead animal to his burger, but once having that realization, he went vegetarian “cold turkey, no flesh at all.” After a few months, he decided to take the path of veganism in 2014.
“I said, okay, I’m gonna try this year of vegan. No animal products at all. Let’s just see how it makes my body feel. After day three, on the whole vegan thing, I just never looked back,” Cole said.
A couple years later, Cole left Florida for Texas and discovered that in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, none of the foods he ate as a child were present at vegan restaurants. Comfort foods, like lasagna, were hard to find.
The vegan movement in Dallas surged in 2012 through events like EarthX and the Texas Veggie Fair. These events helped reach people across different backgrounds and provide attendees with plant-based food and products. But he saw that the local vegan movement needed something more: a variation of cuisines.
Unlike most chefs, Cole was never in the kitchen prior to transitioning to veganism. It wasn’t until becoming vegan and a trip to his nearest farmer’s market that cooking became a huge part of his life.
He created one of his first vegan meals at home using fresh produce like butternut squash, acorn squash, eggplant, okra, and sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market setting everything into motion to create Vegan Vibrationz.
“That was like day one, where I was like, okay I got something. I was in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about yesterday. I wasn’t thinking about tomorrow. I just enjoyed every moment of that,” Cole said.
Cole received such great feedback from friends and family about his own food that he decided there in his kitchen that he was going to make something out of this experience. He started cooking for others and sharing his love of plant-based food with everyone he encountered.
He attended culinary school and after four years of eating vegan and a move to Texas, he took a job at a popular vegan restaurant. His time there confirmed his idea to pursue his passion as a vegan chef and open his own pop-up at the Shed located in the Dallas Farmers Market.
The massive, tall Shed is an open-air pavilion. Local vendors line the path, each with their own canopy or table and products they’ve brought to sell. People crowd the aisles as they walk through the Shed, visit vendors and listen to live music played on the stage by a local musician. Right outside of the Shed is where you’ll find cooked food vendors like Vegan Vibrationz.
The DFM allowed Cole the flexibility to be with his family whereas a brick-and-mortar would have made that difficult, he explained. For Cole, cooking wasn’t a chore. He pursued this new passion of cooking and gained experience as a chef in a vegan restaurant.
“During my journey as I was eating vegan foods…I started realizing that everything was energy in vibration and frequency…veganism is peaceful vibes…So, Vegan Vibrationz is my version of that,” Cole said when asked how he created the name.
Cole began posting his vegan lifestyle on his Instagram account and gained popularity by sharing how to grow your own food and provide inspiration for recipes.
On May 15, 2018, Vegan Vibrationz was officially a food vendor at the DFM.
Later that same year, Vegan Vibrationz participated as a vendor at the largest vegfest in Texas, the Texas Veggie Fair in Dallas. Each year, the Fair invites over hundreds of vegan vendors, like Vegan Vibrationz, to showcase their delicious food.
Cole knew there was a need for more vegan food and gained popularity with both vegans and non-vegans in the DFW. He catered small and large scale events throughout the DFW.
Grabbing inspiration from his childhood, some of Cole’s most famous dishes include his lasagna with asparagus, shrimp stuffed avocados, and Caribbean nachos. According to Cole, “people can go really crazy over these vegan Caribbean nachos.”
With Vegan Vibrationz growing so quickly, Cole decided it is time to bring the food to the people in a food truck. Cole estimates he will begin work and design on the food truck by the end of summer 2019.
As Cole prepares orders for his long line of customers on a Sunday afternoon, he describes his Caribbean nachos to one particular customer visiting from out of town. At the hotel this customer stayed at, someone said to her, “You need to head to the [DFM] to try Vegan Vibrationz.”
It is in this kind of moment that one can really see the impact Cole and his food have on people.
Jackie is a California transplant in Texas. As a vegan for 15 years, she enjoys cooking, baking, trying new foods and exploring the outdoors.