This vegan food truck is bringing change to a California community

FRESNO, Calif. — Mike McElroy always enjoys watching his customers drop in awe as they try his food.

“It’s crazy to see their expression the first time they bite the burger,” he says. “It’s like they couldn’t believe it. They couldn’t believe it wasn’t real meat.”

McElroy’s food truck, Planet Vegan Burgers, serves plant-based foods in the city of Fresno, Central California.

This includes their signature gourmet burgers, often made with Impossible or Beyond Meat burgers.

But their top seller is the Galaxy Fries.

“It’s a loaded fry,” McElroy says. “A kind of fried asada, but it’s 100% vegetable of course.”

And his loyal customers swear by his dishes.

“I stopped, tried and couldn’t believe it. Absolutely blown away,” says Tre Maxell.

Maxell says Planet Vegan’s burgers are some of the best he’s ever had in his life.

This is something that makes it easier for her to transition to a vegan lifestyle.

“You know, before you had no idea there were other options. So now that you know there are other options, and especially as good as this, then it’s like – ‘I can do it,'” he says.

It’s a sentiment that another client, Johnny Buentes, shares. Buentes decided to start avoiding meat when his doctor warned him that his cholesterol levels were too high and his heart health could be in danger. Since then, he eats the dishes of Planet Vegan.

“My youngest son, he says, ‘Oh no daddy, not vegan!’ I told him they were good!” he says. “And I feel a little better when I eat them. It’s just something different.”

McElroy started considering a plant-based lifestyle when he realized he needed to chart a healthier path for himself and his family.

He’s been a full vegan for three years now, almost evangelical in his enthusiasm for the lifestyle.

“After trying it, I felt great. Words can’t express how I felt…It’s a different lifestyle, of course, mentally and physically. You have to try it yourself,” he said. “What I love the most is how it has changed the people around me. My Pops and some of my other family members have started incorporating vegan food into their diets and they are starting to see lots of improvements.”

And it’s not just his own family that he draws inspiration from — it’s also many others around him, including his friends, his team at the food truck, and even people who meet him at the gym.

“They know I’m, I guess, ‘Mr. Planet Vegan’ you might say. I tell them to come and stop… (Planet Vegan dishes are) more like a prize. After eating all the week, just come treat yourself once.”

This local story is based on reporting by Dale Yurong.