WHEN TARIA AND Derrick Slack launched the Black Leaf Vegan food truck this past spring, the two educators (she is a commissioner on the board of Indianapolis Public Schools, and he teaches at Pike High School) leaned on the years they traveled the country in pursuit of the perfect vegan food. “We went to more than 20 states looking at menus,” says Derrick. The result is a mix of vegan burgers, brats, and nachos that landed them a spot at the Indiana State Fair this summer, the first time in the history of the event that an all-vegan vendor made the lineup.
On Sunday, the menu is made up of soul food, including collard greens, vegan mac and cheese, and sweet potatoes. “It’s like Grandma’s food, but it’s 100 percent healthy,” says Derrick, who was undaunted by the challenges of jumping into the food business in 2021, a notoriously difficult time for the industry. “As an African-American entrepreneur, it doesn’t matter if it’s COVID or some other time: It’s difficult to enter these realms and try to make space for yourself. It’s just another hurdle. And whether it’s one hurdle or 11 hurdles, you just have to jump them.”