New Plant-Based Food Truck Serves Burgers and Builds Community
Plow Burger aims to feed the people, hold the meat
Nothing gets the vegan community buzzing quite like a new plant-based food truck popping up on the scene. Double the excitement when an establishment opens its trailer windows for business almost without warning. A single social media post broadcasted that Plow Burger was open for business and suddenly everybody was talking about it. The opening was almost as much of a surprise to Isaac Mogannam, co-owner of Plow Burger (which stands for Plants Lead Our Way), as it was to his potential patrons. "It just kind of happened," Mogannam said.
Eight months ago, through a peculiar series of events, Mogannam ended up with a food truck on his hands. He had been talking with his friend, on-and-off business partner and Buzz Mill owner Jason Sabala, about opening a plant-based burger trailer on the property. Thanks to previous experience in the plant-based food truck industry, once Mogannam and Sabala partnered up, all that remained to do was revamp the truck, order ingredients, and set up an Instagram account. Just like that, Plow Burger went from concept to conducting business in a record six days.
The first dedicated plant-based burger truck in Austin was local favorite Arlo's, and only a few others exist, but Mogannam doesn't view anyone in the plant-based industry as competition. In fact, he can occasionally be found scarfing Arlo's Bac'n Cheeze Burger outside of Cheer Up Charlies or Spider House Cafe because he believes that when one meat-free business succeeds, everybody wins. Mogannam also thinks the world needs more vegan In-N-Out Burgers.
His mission is not about shoving messages of environmentalism or animal welfare in people's faces (albeit important). It's not about converting, guilting, or changing people; it's about feeding them. Specifically, feeding them food they're going to want to eat again by choice.
"Good food should just be good food. If it happens to come from plants, that's even better," said Mogannam. He believes the word vegan is often accompanied by a stigma based on Nineties stereotypes of hippies in meditation circles who only eat dandelions, and that that scares away folks who might otherwise find the food to be delicious. That's why there is not a single mention of the v-word at Plow Burger. The hope is that "plant-based" might inspire non-vegetarians to give it a shot.
This isn't Mogannam's first restaurant rodeo. When he moved from San Francisco in 2014, he sold a profitable cheesesteak truck and left behind six family-owned gourmet burger joints (none of which gelled with his new meat-free lifestyle). He opened up Golden Spike Rail Cart, a plant-based stoner-food trailer, in Austin, but it closed in 2015. Mogannam cites an overcomplicated menu and lack of quality suppliers, not an absence of stellar food.
This truck's approach to the menu is different. It's good, uncomplicated food, and the menu is simple. Plow Burger offers a basic burger with all the classic toppings and Plow's secret sauce, a campfire burger with fried onions and barbecue sauce, perfectly salted fries, and milkshakes crafted with dairy-free ice cream from local creamery Sweet Ritual. The patties are made with a Beyond Meat patty – packed with protein and free of GMOs, soy, and gluten – and the buns come from Sweetish Hill Bakery. Weekly specials like báhn mì, black & bleu burgers, and an ever-changing list of shake offerings boost the flavor possibilities.
"Our mission is to make food that tastes good, but also has a positive impact on our community and environment," Mogannam says. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases and copious water usage involved in animal farming, their efforts include using compostable packaging and donating 2% of sales to the Buzz Mill Forestry Foundation to help plant trees and maintain trails.
Mogannam adds, "At the end of the day, if your food doesn't taste good, nobody's gonna buy it."
1505 Town Creek Dr.
Buzz Mill open 24 hours
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org