|PHOTO MAYRA PARRILLA GUERRERO|
|Jahlisa Misenheimer developed the Vegan Connect app to put consumers in touch with local vegan restaurants.|
Eating vegan in Charlotte is easier with an app that delivers plant-based restaurants and products.
Jahlisa Misenheimer, 27, became a vegan in 2019 for health reasons, and throughout her journey, finding the convenience of restaurants and products on the go was a challenge.
“I would go back and forth and that’s kind of when I put the app out, that’s what gave me the idea,” she said. “I wanted to commit to the diet, but I didn’t know where to go for everything.”
In November of that year, Misenheimer used her website and app development experience to launch the Vegan Connect delivery app.
Although vegan options have grown since she began the lifestyle, Misenheimer said there are still limitations.
“No matter where you are there’s a McDonald’s on every corner, so I still think vegans struggle with that,” she said. “It’s an inconvenience. A lot of vegan restaurants don’t allow you to order ahead or have drive-throughs or delivery, so you have to get in your car and go in there and that is not always ideal.”
According to Misenheimer, Vegan Connect is similar to restaurant delivery apps DoorDash and UberEats.
“We only have vegan options,” she said. “We only allow vegan restaurants or products because we are trying to give a vegan exclusive platform to those types of brands.”
To find vegan-exclusive restaurants, Misenheimer goes on social media groups and connects with others during vegan events to ensure customers have options when ordering through her app.
“I always say we’re about making the food more accessible and a little bit more in unity,” she said. “I want everyone to be able to have that option to order the food, to be able to know where to go to get one of the best meals.
Some of the restaurants that have partnered with Misenheimer in the Charlotte region are Oh My Soul USA, located in the North Davidson area.
Aside from restaurant delivery options, Misenheimer also has two vending machines where she offers vegan grab-and-go options. Her goal is to not only make vegan options convenient but normalization of the plant-based lifestyle.
“It’s hard because for some people of color, we are so used to certain foods that we grew up with and that are part of our culture, (but) there are chefs out there who can re-create those same dishes without any meat,” Misenheimer said.
To advocate the lifestyle, Misenheimer conducts a “Vegan Vibes” music series every other Sunday in Concord where she partners with people and organizations to spread the word and educate others on the health benefits of veganism.
As the Charlotte area continues to progress and build more businesses, Misenheimer hopes to take advantage of the growth to bring more options and continue to make vegan products easily accessible.
“I thought it was great because Charlotte is growing, more places are popping up, so I want to grow here as well,” she said.