I love sharing a good Good Food story, and how Stephanie Shelton and Shawn Mock came to create Mean Vegan Products in Waldo, Missouri, is my favorite story yet. These two talented artists were working as construction workers in 2008 when they met, fell in love, and quickly discovered their mutual love of tamales and the desire to eat better. “I was living on food from QT [Quik Trip] and two packs of cigarettes a day,” says Shawn. They both wanted to live better, so they decided to go vegan together.
Stephanie and Shawn’s very first conversations were about tamales. “We saw that it was impossible to eat well conveniently,” says Shawn. So they set out to find a way to make savory, “meaty” vegan-style tamales that were both flavorful and convenient. When they discovered jackfruit–a large, prickly tropical fruit that tastes like chicken so it’s a great meat substitute–at an Asian market, Stephanie started trying different recipes.“Steph has a knack for taking a recipe and making it work,” says Shawn. Although Stephanie admits, “the first batch was awful,” she kept trying and was so excited when she finally got it. “Shawn got home, and I said, ‘We have tamales! Try them–they’re in the fridge!’” says Stephanie. Jackfruit has such a meaty texture that even carnivores can’t tell the difference.
Their tamales began to be in such high demand at events like First Fridays (they sell out in under two hours!), that Stephanie and Shawn started making Kansas City Jack BBQ sandwiches to take to car shows like Art of the Car, Greaserama, the Zombie Pinup Car Show, and Day of the Dead. “Bikers freak out when they learn they aren’t eating meat,” says Stephanie, who smiles when she talks about the shock. They’ve even heard, “This is the best BBQ sandwich I’ve ever had” from a biker who eats nothing except meat!
“Whether your palate prefers meat or veggies, you’ll enjoy our vegan foods,” she adds. And the creations don’t stop there. Stephanie also created Funguy Jerky made with a whole portobello mushroom–perfect for grabbing on-the-go this summer. Their next creation will be … Chick-Un, a pulled-chicken sandwich made from jackfruit that’s a lot like their famous Kansas City Jack BBQ.
Here’s to Mean Vegan continuing to “freak people out” with their savory, meatless creations. Now it’s your turn to try them and see what you think. Get $1 off with the code “meanvegan” at the Shop until May 31.