Meet Lamondryia “Koko” Nunn, owner of the vegan food truck Not Ya Average Leaf

Lamondryia “Koko” Nunn, owner of Not Ya Average Leaf, a vegan food truck, where she creates her day-to-day recipes, which include a full menu of chicken sandwiches, burgers, lasagna and barbecue. (Amarr Croskey, for the Birmingham Times)
By Haley Wilson
Birmingham weather

A lifestyle change put Birmingham-born Lamondryia “Koko” Nunn on the path to entrepreneurship with her creation of Not Ya Average Leaf, a vegan food truck.

After emerging from a Crohn’s disease-induced coma in 2015, then experiencing relapses and constant hospital visits in 2016 and 2019, Nunn realized that incorporating healthier eating habits could be the key to fighting inflammation of the digestive tract which has led to severe abdominal damage. pain and fatigue.

The turning point for Nunn came in December 2019, when she went to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Ariz., And underwent 10-hour surgery to remove part of her colon.
“When I came home [to Birmingham] in January 2020, [after recovering from surgery the month prior], the doctors told me the disease was back. I also ate a lot of bad food at the time, ”she said. “In fact, I was in [the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)] in the hospital, and they told me to drink only clear liquids.

Eventually Nunn’s Crohn’s disease was in remission, and she started to feel better and knew why.

“This is because I became vegan for only those few months,” she said, adding that from that point on in 2020, she decided to go fully vegan, embracing a fad. living food that refrains from using animal products.

“I decided I wasn’t going to play the victim,” Nunn said. “People are speechless when I tell them my story and what I’ve been through. However, I don’t really think about it and I don’t put the energy into thinking about it. I try to live in the moment and keep moving forward.

Nunn created Not Ya Average Leaf to emphasize that vegan doesn’t have to be boring. She creates her recipes day by day, but often has a full menu that includes vegan chicken sandwiches, spring rolls, Polish sausage, fried shrimp, burgers, lasagna, barbecue and tacos.

“A lot of people think veganism only eats carrots and spinach, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. You can really customize your food to taste like any regular meal you want. The secret is really the seasoning, ”she said.

According to the Vegan Society, created in 1944, “veganism is a philosophy and a way of life that seeks to exclude, as much as possible and possible, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food purposes. , clothing or others. goal; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.

Early life

Nunn, 26, did not have a “traditional childhood. . . I have had Crohn’s disease since I was 9 years old, ”she said. “I have had a lot of surgeries, a lot of treatments. … So overall I was forced to mature and grow faster than a lot of my friends.

While a student at McAdory High School in McCalla, Nunn dreamed of becoming a cheerleader.

“I remember wanting to cheer so badly, but I knew I couldn’t because I was often so weak,” she said. “Now I’m kind of my own cheerleader. Funny how things can sort of come back and forth for you.

After graduating from high school in 2013, Nunn studied nursing at Shelton State Community College: “I was surrounded by nurses so often that I thought I wanted to be one. I finally realized that this path was not in my destiny.

She transferred to Lawson State Community College, where she studied business administration. Around this time, in April 2015, her sister, Jahkerryia, 18, died of complications from Crohn’s disease. In August of that year, Nunn was placed in a coma with the disease, which suspended her studies.

“I couldn’t go to school for a year,” she says. “Then there was always some kind of surgery. “

When her illness became more manageable, Nunn enrolled at UAB, where she studied Information Systems, from which she graduated in 2020.

Start-up

When Nunn decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle, she was replicating the dishes and recipes she had found on social media. “During the pandemic and when we were all confined, I was so depressed,” she said. “I was looking for ways to feel better.”

“I started [posting] vegan [cooking] videos on Instagram, … [doing] tutorials on how you cook this and how you cook that. I will look at [TikTok videos from] Tabitha Brown, [an actor and self-described vegan influencer]. The videos really helped me back then. … So I did a survey one day [on Instagram], and I was like, ‘Do you all want to see me do it? Shrimp with mushrooms? And since 60 people on the poll voted yes. … I was like, ‘OK, I’m doing this for fun, but people really want to see it for real.’ Then people quickly started asking how they could buy a plate.

As sales increased, Nunn recruited her mother, Angela, and some of her friends to help deliver the plates.

“[Eventually], other business owners and I were setting up pop-up shops around local restaurants like Tropicaleo in Birmingham for a few days a week, ”Nunn said.

No Ya Middle Leaf

Over time, she saved enough to start her own traveling food truck business. A typical day begins with filling the water tank of your food truck, obtaining propane, and then preparing the daily menu.

“Some days I could make the egg rolls and other days I will make the chicken sandwiches,” she said. “Either way, I always prepare the food fresh and stay ahead of the day.”

Nunn has three employees: his mother; his grandmother, Juanita; and a family friend, Mrs. Linda. They generally work Tuesday to Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Her favorite spot is the West End Food Truck Park, which is sponsored by Bushelon Funeral Home.

Nunn prefers the mobile food truck to a physical location because “everything I need is in one place and I can travel anywhere I want anytime,” she said, adding that her goal is to have another food truck.

As for Nunn’s truck name, “KoKo”, she said her skin tone when she was born was “dark as chocolate”, so her family nicknamed her “KoKo” – and she has been using that name ever since.

To learn more about Not Ya Average Leaf or to see where the truck will be next, visit www.facebook.com/NotYaAverageLeaf.