Although it’s been gaining momentum in recent years (especially in a city as open-minded and diverse as Ann Arbor) the vegan food movement still sparks strong feelings in the restaurant world – especially among carnivores.
New York-based Chef Dustin Harder and Ann Arbor’s own, filmmaker Drew Williams, are trying to use the passion the term “vegan” evokes to educate fellow foodies and help shed light on innovate restaurants and chefs with their crowdfunded online web series, The Vegan Roadie.
Similar in spirit to the Food Network show Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives, season one of The Vegan Roadie sent Chef Harder and Williams on a cross-country tour of America, visiting chefs all over the country (including Chloe Coscarelli, winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and television host and cookbook author Melissa d’Arabian). The pair tasted some of the top culinary food in the country, and cooked up simple and easy vegan treats in their hotel rooms; basically doing everything in their power to showcase the power of plant-based cooking.
Williams, who isn’t a vegan, says he learned a lot about just how delicious vegan food can be during season one.
“A couple of cities we actually got people in front of the camera who weren’t vegan. Me being a non-vegan and traveling to all these places, it was insane to me,” said Williams. “There’s a place in Philadelphia called BlackBird Pizzeria, and you know it’s Philly, so they have cheesesteaks, and when I ate that, I was blown away. I could not believe that it wasn’t meat. That was really the thing for me, that I just could not believe all this delicious and wonderful food was out there.”
Now, after the warm reception of season one, Harder and Williams are currently hard at work raising funds for a second season. Because they are raising funds on kickstarter, Harder and Williams need to reach their goal of $32,000 to fund season two, or else they don’t receive any funding. The campaign to raise money ends March 2nd.
“We’re trying to bring Vegan Roadie to the forefront of this culinary revolution. That’s the thing about vegan food. You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy it,” said Williams. “Go out and enjoy a vegan meal! That’s the point we’re trying to make. This food is for everyone and it is everywhere, and it’s accessible.