With the rise of casual vegan dining, modern vegan restaurants are getting creative in their recipes for plant-based dishes that appeal to both vegans and nonvegans alike. Madison-based restaurant, JustVeggiez, is no exception! The restaurant’s flavorful renditions of classic Chicago comfort foods have a health-conscious twist, making it a great place for anyone who considers themselves vegan or adventurous foodies. 

For owner James Bloodsaw, a passion for cooking and the love of his family have always been important ingredients in many of his recipes. In 2011, as he made the transition from pescatarian to a plant-based diet. He said he was increasingly aware of how our diets affect a person’s well-being. After giving up his favorite non-vegan foods, he quickly found that the kinds of food offered at restaurants didn’t always satisfy his cravings as he was adjusting to his new lifestyle. 

“When I became vegan, I couldn’t find something quick to eat. I always had to cook food” Bloodsaw said. 

Sentient Media found plant-based food sales surged by 45% in the last two years.  Consumers are changing their food consumption choices and are swiftly adopting a vegan diet due to its health benefits, according to Modern Restaurant Management.

The Pew Research Center also reported that 8% of Black Americans are strict vegans or vegetarians, compared to just 3% among the general population. The study Black Americans are the fastest-growing vegan demographic in the country.

For many Black vegans, their journey begins with a quest for a healthier lifestyle. Studies indicate African Americans have a higher rate of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer than most other groups, primarily due to their diet is on average higher in salt and fat and lower in fruits and vegetables, research shows.

Bloodsaw said while he was looking for ways to eat like the vegan, he sought ways to enjoy meals without sacrificing flavor or variety. He began experimenting with new ingredients and recipes in his own kitchen. As he worked on perfecting these recipes, it became clear that there was a need for more restaurants that offered quality vegan options that were appealing for those looking to try a healthier version of their favorite meals. He decided to open JustVeggiez as part of his mission to provide delicious plant-based foods that non-vegan eaters could relate to.  

One of JustVeggies most popular items is their Italian Sandwich, which is made with slow-cooked vegan Italian seitan and giardiniera peppers on a French roll. If you’re in the mood for a more classic option, their Just Veggies Hot Chix Sandwich is just what you need. This mouthwatering sandwich includes buffalo sauce and bacon avocado ranch to give it that classic kick, but can be ordered plain if you prefer something less spicy.  

The Bloodshaws have been running JustVeggiez since 2018 and have expanded to over 50 menu items. The restaurant offers meal prep services to conveniently deliver ready-made meals to your door for weeks at a time and are now opening a brand-new restaurant in Madison at 540 State Street.