By Joanna Berkowitz
“Be veg Go green 2 Save the planet” are the words customers read from the side of an inviting, bright yellow food truck while enjoying a delicious vegan meal.
David Tran, the owner of a Loving Hut vegan cuisine express truck, is providing inexpensive, convenient and delicious food to Gainesville residents with the intention of showing people how easy eating a plant-based diet is and how it can greatly reduce global warming.
“People typically think of driving less or not owning SUVs, but not eating meat would actually have a greater impact,” said Jay Shooster, vice president of the UF Student Animal Alliance. “Not only does it reduce global warming, it also means that we’re not going to be destroying rainforests to make room for cattle.”
In the Amazon rainforest alone, 80 percent of deforestation is due to an increase in cattle ranching, according to a 2009 Green Peace report.
In addition, “producing one calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel input — releasing 11 times as much carbon dioxide — as does producing a calorie from plant protein,” according to a report by PETA. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, the gas most responsible for global warming.
Tran is trying to decrease global warming by changing people’s misconceptions about vegetarian or vegan food being expensive and not easily available, said Paula Ziadi, secretary of the Student Animal Alliance.
Tran is aware that his food truck, which is typically parked just outside his home in a residential neighborhood near 34th Street, leaves a carbon footprint, so he is looking into using biofuel, a more natural alternative than regular gasoline, in the near future.
He believes that his food truck, one of more than 200 Loving Hut establishments in cities all over the world, provides fast food and helps people live healthy lifestyles for a reasonable price. Through the truck he hopes to inform and convince people that by eating vegan food, they can help significantly reduce global warming.
Tran wants vegan cuisines all over the world to produce mass quantities of food like McDonald’s, but to do so in a healthy way and without increasing global warming.
Tran said that he delivers, receives people at his home and works in conjunction with the Student Animal Alliance to serve solely vegan food made from wholesome, plant-based ingredients, which means he does not use genetically modified organisms. His menu varies widely listing items, such as spring rolls, curry burgers, flan and chai tea, all offered for less than $10.
Tran also spreads his message and helps others by taking his food to the St. Francis House homeless shelter and soup kitchen once a week. This way he is able to prevent the people there from spending money on unhealthy food from fast food restaurants that are made at the cost of the environment.
Tran is working on a book that will include several of his recipes. In the meantime, he offers cooking classes once or twice a month to anyone who is interested.
On Oct. 17, the Student Animal Alliance held an event on campus in conjunction with Tran and his vegan food, and on Friday, Nov. 18 Tran will work with the student group once again to provide food at Plaza of the Americas.
“My dream is for the world to be vegan,” Tran said.