June 25, 2020 PenelopeFry

How to start a vegan food truck: 17 Vegan Food Truck Menu Ideas

What is Vegan Food Truck?

A vegan food truck is a large vehicle equipped with facilities for cooking and selling plant-based vegan food and drinks.

Since COVID-19, food lovers with an entrepreneurial itch are looking into starting a food truck business rather than a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

A vegan food truck is a large vehicle that has a kitchen where you can make and serve vegan food and drinks.

Pinky Cole’s success with five hour lines of more than 500 people at the Slutty Vegan food truck woke many up to the potential of this market. Her success is a good example of the power of vegan marketing for food trucks too!

It’s easy to find a business plan template, but harder to decide on your niche and theme for your vegan food truck.

So, before you go full steam ahead… Here’s what you need to know about great vegan food truck businesses, funding options, how to find a food truck and more.

This free resource will guide you on how to become a vegan entrepreneur and embark on your journey to opening up your own food truck empire.

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How to start a vegan food truck

Table of Contents

Understanding Vegan Food Truck Customers

Growth in the demand for vegan food is strong in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and other markets across the world. Along with COVID-19, it’s supporting similar growth in mobile food industry too. 

Remember, people who eat meat are actually the largest and fastest growing portion of consumers spending money in the vegan market!

Will your food truck be attractive to people who are making the effort to limit or eliminate the amount of meat and animal products they consume in their lives?

Here’s how to understand them.

Vegan Customer Needs

Around the world, food truck entrepreneurs are always looking to capture a large market and continually attract new customers.

An easy way to expand your customer base is to offer vegan street food to the growing vegan consumer market.

You might be a mobile food unit operator who is open to expanding your menu, but you aren’t sure what vegans can or cannot eat.

Here is an overview to help you understand vegan food truck customers, and what they generally eat.

What is a Vegan?

A vegan is a person who avoids using animals or animal products for food, work, or entertainment. We don’t eat animal by-products either, including such as eggs, dairy products and honey.

Why Veganism?

People choose a vegan lifestyle or choose vegan options for health, environmental, religious, and/or ethical reasons. 

Many people choose vegan products and services to help promote a more humane, healthy and compassionate world. 

They’re literally ‘voting’ to create change through each dollar they spend.

Vegan Food Truck Customer Nutrition

The key to offering mobile food van options that have a good vegan nutrition profile is variety.

Healthy and varied vegan menus include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, proteins, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Protein

Vegan sources of protein include foods like meat alternatives, tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, almonds, protein powders, and beans. 

Fats

Vegan fats include vegetable and seed oils, margarine, avocado, coconut oil, and nut butters. Healthy fats help give a great mouth feel to takeaway food. Vegan diets are naturally cholesterol free!

Calcium

Sources of vegan calcium include dark green vegetables, tempeh, sesame seeds, and calcium fortified plant-based milks, cheeses, and yoghurts.

Iron

You’ll find that vegan iron sources can be better than meat on a per calorie basis! Think of dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin seeds, and kale.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Vegans get omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed, tofu, soybeans and walnuts.

Common Vegan Foods

Common vegan foods are plant-based versions of conventional foods.

Like, vegan burgers.

We’ve explored the Google data and the kinds of food most often associated with the ‘vegan near me’ search are vegan versions of:

  1. breakfast 
  2. burgers
  3. pizza
  4. cake
  5. sushi
  6. ramen
  7. fast food
  8. pho
  9. tacos
  10. lunch
  11. thai; and
  12. milkshakes.

Yes, garden salad is a common vegan food. But, don’t expect people to travel out of their way to buy it from your vegan food truck!

Vegans also love to eat…

People who seek out vegan food tend to have a higher likelihood of enjoying niche foods like:

  1. vegan chai tea
  2. raw food (e.g. raw vegan cheesecakes)
  3. seitan
  4. tempeh
  5. vegan donuts
  6. vegan sausage rolls and pies

Read our article on the 5 secret foods that will attract vegan food fans if you’d like some bonus ideas.

Egg Replacement:
  • tapioca starch
  • mashed banana
  • cornstarch
  • applesauce
  • arrowroot starch
The following substitutions can be made for dairy products:
  1. Plant-based milks: Including oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, sesame milk, and more!
  2. Plant-based cheese: High-quality plant-based cheese options are available including vegan cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, cottage, ricotta, feta cheese and cream cheeses.
  3. Plant-based yoghurts: Rich tasting vegan yoghurt options are available including coconut yoghurt, almond milk yoghurt, soy yoghurt and more!
  4. Plant-based ice cream: Creamy vegan ice cream, gelato and sorbet options are available including cashew ice cream, coconut ice cream, almond milk ice cream, lemon sorbet and more! Sorbet is declining in popularity as the vegan options improve in the ice cream space.

We hope this section gave you a better understanding of how you can delight vegan customers!

In the next section, we’ll cover how you can use marketing to reach out to them…

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Marketing tips for starting a Plant-Based Food Truck

It’s not enough to just park your food van, vegan food cart or stall at an event or on the side of the road and hope people notice it.

You’re going to need to do some marketing so fans of plant-based vegan food and drinks come find you!

List Your Business

For example, it costs nothing to list your business with Happy Cow and you’ll be amazed at its effect. You could also seek to be featured in vegan food guide books like the Lonely Planet Vegan Travel Handbook!

Social Media Hashtags

Also, don’t forget to use related hashtags on your social media including:

  • #veganfoodtruck
  • #vegannoms
  • #yummyvegan
  • #vegantakeout
  • #veganfoodie
  • #veganoptions
  • #vegantakeaway
  • #junkfoodvegan
  • #whatvegansdrink
  • #whatveganseat
  • #plantbasedcheese
  • #veganstreetfood

More Marketing Tips

Check out our complete guide to vegan marketing for an extensive collection of free tips!

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17 Inspiring Vegan Food Truck Menu Ideas

Introduction

Your cuisine and menu items are an important decision for your vegan food truck!

If you’re new to vegan menu items, check out our vegan menu for beginners guide.

Understand the basics?

Great! Here is a list of the coolest 17 vegan food truck themes ever:

1. Indian Street Food

indian vegan food theme for vegan food truck

Naturally, there are many meatless vegan dishes in the repertoire of Indian food.

Indian food has a lot of variety, inexpensive ingredients, and huge world-wide popularity too!

If you’re looking for vegan food truck menu ideas, this could be the perfect type of food for you.
 
Indian food truck menu ideas:
  • Aloo Matar: Pea and potato curry
  • Gobi Aloo wrap: Cauliflower, potatoes, red lentil hummus
  • Pav Bhaji: Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, green peppers, green peas and spices
  • Vegetable samosas

Check out #veganindianfood and #veganindian .

2. Vegan Dirty Burgers

vegan burger theme for starting a vegan food truck

Who can resist a great burger?

They’ve been one of the best selling food truck items for years for good reason!

And, vegan burgers have a growing cult following.

If you start a vegan food truck, make sure you bring your ‘A-Game’.

Why?

Because this is big business and it can command above-average prices!

The great news is that veggie burgers are very easy to make, and now there are a lot of vegan burger patty suppliers.

For more inspiration, have a look at examples on social media using these hashtags:

Use hashtags like these on social media when you launch your food truck too.

The key is to create fun variations on your basic burger. You’ll attract people and the extras can provide more revenue if you offer them as ‘up sells’ too.

Think of burgers offering extra fillings like ‘pulled jackfruit’, extra vegan cheese, and ‘vegan bacon’. 

Beware, don’t attempt to sell something old fashioned like a ‘black bean veggie burger’ unless the flavour is truly mind-blowing or you’ll be offering super-cheap prices.

Modern mock meats and vegan alternative meats have reached a point where they’re so well known that using old veggie burger patty recipes are very risky.

How to make vegan pulled pork for your Food Truck’s vegan burgers.

3. Loaded Fries

vegan loaded fries theme for vegan food truck

Loaded fries are simple and easy vegan options.

You can use regular potatoes, or level-up with sweet potato or purple potatoes.

As for fillings, you have endless options! Just make sure you’re using good quality vegan cheese and sauces so you stand out from the crowd.

Loaded fries food truck menu ideas:

  • vegan bacon and cheddar
  • kimchi loaded fries
  • Japanse stijl vegan loaded fries

Check out the hashtag #veganloadedfries for more inspiration.

4. Vegan Tacos

vegan tacos theme for vegan food truck

If you’re looking to start a vegan food stall and then work up to a food truck then vegan tacos are a great option!

With a huge variety of filling options, you’re sure to be able to offer taco takeaways that satisfy most customers.

These are popular world-wide. In the USA, they’re especially good for markets like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Austin and Dallas.

Vegan mexican recipe books are the best source of low-risk ideas.

Vegan taco food truck ingredient ideas:

  • tofu
  • seitan
  • texturized vegetable protein 
  • quinoa mince
  • mushrooms
  • jackfruit carnitas
For more inspiration, have a look at examples on social media using these hashtags:

Use hashtags like these on social media when you launch your vegan taco stall or food van too.

Vegan Tacos Street Food Example

5. Vegan burritos

vegan burrito theme for vegan food truck

The vegan burrito is a versatile dish that can be packed with all sorts of plant-based delights.

Instead of beef carnitas or chicken, think pulled jackfruit or bbq tofu.

Use these hashtags for your social media, when you start your vegan food truck:

Vegan burrito food truck menu ideas:

  • hail seitan burrito 
  • smoked tofu burrito
  • walnut taco meat burritos

If you’d like reliable recipes, we recommend the Vegan Burgers and Burritos recipe book by Sophia DeSantis.

6. Vegan dogs

vegan loaded hot dog theme for vegan food truck

Alternative meat has come a long way, and now vegan hotdogs look and taste just as good as meat hotdogs.

Yours could taste even better!

Now, it’s easy to buy wholesale vegan hotdogs so all you need to focus on is choosing a good bun and loading them up with tasty topings.
 
You can start with a vegan food cart or market stall, then work up to a vegan food truck.

For inspiration, check out these hashtags on social media:

7. Vegan kebabs

vegan kebab theme for vegan food truck

This isn’t a common option, but it could have a good profit margin.

Vegan kebabs can use a variety of vegetables, mock meats, and alternative protein ingredients on the skewer.

Plus, you can get creative with your sauces, dressing, and spices.

Add extra interest by setting up your vegan food truck to make kebabs on skewers, vegan doner kebabs, and also exotic Bahraini kebabs too!

Vegan kebab food truck menu ideas:

  • bbq tofu and capsicum
  • mock duck with ginger-garlic teriyaki dressing
  • mock chicken with veggies and sweet chilli

For more inspiration, check out the #vegankebab hashtag on social media. 

How to make exotic Bahraini Kebabs

8. Vegan Caribbean

vegan Caribbean theme for vegan food truck

Source: @chefpeterveggiedlight via Instagram

You’ll have bright, fun food with a fantastic soundtrack!

Start a vegan food truck with the vegan caribbean cuisine and you’ll find a world of tasty options.

Vegan caribbean is especially popular in London, Bristol and Toronto. Consider offering curry, stew, and bowl dishes.

Vegan Caribbean food truck menu ideas:

9. Vegan grilled cheese

vegan grilled cheese theme for vegan food truck

Source: @vegankitten via Instagram

Be careful with your profit margins if you want to start a vegan food truck with this theme.

A delicious vegan grilled cheese sandwich will satisfy most vegans and non-vegans alike.

Build your pricing to include wholesale commercial quality vegan cheese, vegan bacon, and other fillings to get the best quality offering possible. If you can, offer more than one type of vegan cheese as part of your up-sells.

Give your grilled offerings an interesting name, like melty cheddar cheese, maple bacon tempeh, sliced tomato, greens and a balsamic glaze.

Check out the #vegangrilledcheese hashtag on social media and PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook for inspiration.

10. Vegan pizza

vegan pizza theme for vegan food truck

For good reason, pizza is a staple in the food truck scene.

Vegan pizza is it’s younger, cooler sibling.

If you’re starting your vegan food truck, consider vegan pizza for an easy theme.
 
Just make sure you’re including plant-based subsitutes for classic toppings, like vegan pepperoni.
 
You can buy vegan supplies, or make your own bases and toppings. Use a vegan pizza recipe book to evaluate your likely costs against competitor prices. That’ll help you decide.
 

Vegan pizza food truck menu ideas:

  • Vegan cheese, bbq TVP mince, red pepper, tomato
  • Vegan cheese, pepperoni, tomato, spinach, olives

How to make a basic vegan pizza

11. Falafels

vegan falafel theme for vegan food truck
Middle eastern food is a favourite, and falafels are a well established vegan go-to meal.
 
You’ll find that these sell especially well if you provide both falafel salad bowls and also falafel wraps.
 
People are very familiar with this type of vegan food, so it’s easy to sell.
 
For inspiration, check out the hashtag #veganfalafel on social media. If you’d like to make your own falafels for your food van, check out the excellent recipe in the Deliciously Ella cookbook.

12. Vegan ice cream

vegan ice cream theme for vegan food truck
 
Vegan ice cream and gelato food trucks are popular because people think they’re more healthy than standard ice cream.
 
This sort of food truck is excellent for tourist areas and also for warm climates.
 
There are two different models for vegan ice food vans. You can either make your own vegan ice cream and gelato, or you can sell someone else’s product.
 
Just make sure it’s high quality. Also, if you make it photo-worthy you’ll get free social media exposure!
 
For inspiration, check out the #veganicecream hashtag on social media and The Vegan Scoop recipe book.

13. Vegan Thai

vegan thai theme for vegan food truck
Deliciouly tasty, there are plenty of vegan options in the Thai food theme.
 
If you start your food stall or food van with a vegan theme, you’ll have an opportunity to set up with a popular cuisine made with inexpensive ingredients.
 
For inspiration, check out the Rosa’s Thai Cafe recipe book and the #veganthai and #veganthaifood hashtags on social media.
 

Vegan Thai food truck menu ideas:

  • vegan thai green curry
  • pad thai tofu
  • vegan thai peanut noodles
  • Thai pumpkin curry

14. Mobile juice & smoothie bar

vegan juice and smoothies theme for vegan food truck
You’re going to thrill both non-vegans and vegans when you offer juice and smoothies from your vegan food van!
 
You can get creative with ingredients. Plus, you’ll have a lot of different up-sell options such as vegan protein powder.
 
Be sure to start your vegan food truck with inexpensive ingredients as your juice and smoothie base, adding more expensive ingredients as flavours.
 

Juice and smoothie food truck menu ideas:

15. Jacket Sweet Potato

vegan jacket potato theme for vegan food truck

Source: @vegangem13 via Instagram

You can start your vegan food truck with basic loaded potato, or take it up a level with jacket sweet potato!
 
It’s healthy, cheap to make, and versatile. You’ll have a wide selection of toppings, just like the loaded fries theme.

Get silly! Check out #veganjacketpotato and #vegansweetpotato on social media if you’d like examples.

Vegan jacket potato food truck menu ideas:

  • thai pumpkin curry stuffed sweet potato
  • sweet potato loaded with vegan chilli
  • cheesy bean and caramelised onion sweet potato

16. Vegan Crepes

 
Delighting both sweet and savoury fans, French crepes are a popular food truck theme. Their thin and crispy shell can hold a huge variety of fillings!
 
You’ll find that crepes can be highly profitable, especially if they’re made using vegan ingredients!
 

Vegan crepes food truck menu ideas:

  • Have a look at the crepes batter recipe in the 123 Yummy Vegan Breakfast and Brunch Recipes cookbook.
  • Consider banana with agave syrup as a filling, and premium priced berries fillings.
  • Vegan cheese, tomato and mushrooms are a popular savoury filling.
  • Check out #vegancrepes on social media for more fillings ideas!

17. Vegan Donuts

vegan donut theme for starting a vegan food truck

If your start your vegan food truck with donuts (also called doughnuts), vegans will drive for hours to find you!

We recommend you trial making vegan donuts using the recipe in the Incredible Plant-Based Desserts cookbook to get them just right. Then, you can branch out into new types with safety!

For glaze inspiration, browse images on social media using these hashtags:

You should use hashtags like these to promote your vegan food truck launch too.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much do Food Trucks Make a Year?

While a lot of factors impact on how much money the average food truck makes each year, the consensus seems to be equal to around $100,000 USD total income.

How can I start a food truck with no money?

Here are 14 tips on how to start a food truck with no money:

  1. Pre-sell products to raise money for the ingredients.
  2. Start selling food truck style items at a food stall, so you can save up or get finance to upgrade to a food truck.
  3. Start a vegan blog website and set up your socials for your marketing, and sign up to some vegan affiliate programs for extra income.
  4. Hire or borrow a van or food truck to start out.
  5. Consider sharing the costs of a market stall site or food truck van with another start-up.
  6. Rent or borrow your catering equipment to start out.
  7. Buy your first truck and equipment second hand.
  8. Get a zero percent interest credit card for seed finance.
  9. Join mobile catering facebook groups and vegan business groups to get advice from experienced professionals for free!
  10. Start simple, with a single minimum viable product to keep your costs down.
  11. Source food ‘waste’ or heavily discounted ingredients from local farmers, business and supermarkets.
  12. Get others involved in promoting and supporting you including friends, family, sports clubs, and your social network. 
  13. Seek crowdfunding!
  14. Get a business partner or investor to help fund your start-up costs and guide your vegan food truck business plan.

What is not allowed in a vegan diet?

Vegans don’t eat fish, meat or poultry. Also, we don’t not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, leather, dairy products, honey, fur, silk, cosmetics, wool, and soaps derived from animal products.

How do I start a vegan business? How do I open a vegan store?

If you’re considering starting a vegan business or store, now is a great time! To get you started, here are 10 helpful tips:

  1. Choose a niche within the vegan market.
  2. Identify your target market.
  3. Decide if you want to create and sell your own goods and/or services. You could also sell those provided by others as an affiliate, retailer or on-seller.
  4. Prepare a business plan.
  5. Set up  your vegan blog and website so you’ve locked-down your domains and social media handles for your business name.
  6. Learn how to network and start building relationships!
  7. Develop a brand using your own skills or get help through sites like Fiverr or Envato.
  8. Get creative with fundraising.
  9. Consider working from home, or save costs by sharing space with others if you need a public storefront.
  10. Find mentors!

How do I start a vegan cafe?

To start a vegan cafe, you’ll need to follow similar steps to starting a vegan food truck, business or store. (See above.)

How much does it cost to open a vegan restaurant?

According to a survey, the median cost of opening a restaurant in the USA is about $3,046 per seat ($275,000). This doesn’t include buying the property. Starting a vegan food truck is much cheaper!

Vegan food trucks near me

The best way to find a vegan food truck nearby is to search using Happy Cow.

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PenelopeFry

With over 17 years in international vegetarian and vegan communities on and off-line, I work hard to follow these niche markets and trends. I have provided menu advice for over 40 restaurants and cafes across 11 countries... and counting! Vegan food is my passion, but I also like sailing and cycling.

12 YEARS OF
MARKET KNOWLEDGE

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