SANDPOINT – Cheryl Felts spent years working for local restaurants before deciding to open a new vegan food stall, Dirty Vegan, in May.
A seasoned local chef – including Connie’s, Forty One South, the Pack River Store and other Sandpoint centers – Felts said she wanted to create a menu that would appeal to vegans and non-vegans in its place in the area. Oak Street Restaurant.
“Just like last weekend, I had a lady who had a vegan friend who ordered the bison jackfruit sandwich,” Felts said. “Then she took a bite of it. She said, ‘Oh, that was really delicious. I will order one too.
Felts, who has been a vegan for about three years, said opening a vegan food stall presented additional challenges in northern Idaho. But even so, she’s working to try and change the way people think about vegan food.
“They think, you know, ‘Grass and leaves, and that’s it,'” she said. “[But] most people’s diets are not all meat. I think people are coming [at it] from a sort of limited perspective.
Although the food truck is a one-woman operation, its menu offers a wide variety of options – in fact, reducing the menu was a big challenge for Felts, she said.
The menu options include green and red Thai curry, Asian stir-fries, fettuccine Alfredo, Jamaican jerk jackfruit tacos, crab and jackfruit burgers, a jackfruit sandwich with buffalo, a “Tribute to Truby” sandwich, a Greek falafel salad and a Caesar salad with crispy chickpeas.
Among other unique ingredients, Felts uses jackfruit, which is commonly used as a pulled pork substitute for its similar texture, in several of its dishes. Because the jackfruit and the other ingredients it uses cannot be found locally, Felts orders from several different suppliers.
After hearing there was a food court opening, she spent much of the winter researching where she could get each ingredient at the best price.
Although the process of ordering all of her ingredients from different sources is a long one, Felts said she felt compelled to change after watching the documentary “Cowspiracy”, which her daughter brought home.
“We see everything beautiful and pre-packaged in our grocery stores. But we don’t see what the process is in advance, ”she said.
And while Sandpoint isn’t known to have many vegans, there are more of them than you might expect, Felts said. Being able to expand the possibilities for these clients is one of the exciting parts of his job.
“The funny thing is that the people I met who were the most skeptical were vegans,” she said. “When they tried jackfruit, they thought, ‘Are you sure it’s not meat, because I’m [vegan], ‘and I’m like’ No, it’s not meat. ‘”
Two of Felts’ personal favorites on the menu are the Asian sautéed jackfruit bites and crab cake, she said. Another very popular dish is the Greek falafel salad.
“But you know, I also like curries. So I do not know. I just love the food, ”she said with a laugh.