In light of World Vegan Day on November 1st, it’s important we take a moment to highlight the importance of veganism and how beneficial the movement has been to society. Insert Vurger Guyz, the plant-based business that serves as the gateway into plant-based eating, inserting themselves as the go-to food for vegans in Los Angeles. 

If you’ve had a chance to try Vurger Guyz, oftentimes parked right outside Whole Foods on Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles, then you probably know how fire their burgers are. Not only that, but it’s their community-centered approach to promoting healthier eating habits that leave both vegans and non-vegans in a frenzy, oftentimes coming back for more. 

Launched in 2018, the black-owned business is created by 4 owners: Na’eem Outler, Phil Bennett, Kori Vines, Kendall Patterson — all of whom are former NCAA athletes. Which makes sense given teamwork and worth ethic are the driving force behind Vurger Guyz’ mission statement. They also have a OneBiteWarranty, which allows people to take one bite of their meal before paying. If they don’t like it, they don’t pay… ensuring customer satisfaction at all times.

To date, celebrities such as Tabitha Brown, Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, Alicia Keys, and Pharrell have all become fans.

Sheen spoke with Na’eem outside the truck in downtown Los Angeles to discuss how the idea came into fruition, and why they’re changing the narrative for veganism. 

Talk about when you first got the idea for Vurger Guyz.

The idea came from going vegan. When I went vegan, I told myself if I’m going to have to continue to be a conscious eater and watch the things I eat, it shouldn’t be a punishment. Before Vurger Guyz, when I went to eat vegan burgers, I was punishing myself through taste, through experience, and through the ability to be able to tell someone else about a vegan experience that was good. I wanted to create that great experience for people that had an idea of going vegan, even for health opportunities. I didn’t want you to have to change the way you ate, then looked at it like, “well I’m killing myself anyway because I’m not getting to enjoy the vegan experience.” 

What made you go vegan?

It was step by step. I stopped eating red meat, then I stopped eating chicken. I started realizing how the day to day traditional foods weren’t as good for me. I seen benefits of doing it when I’d try for weeks and months spans of time. I seen the benefits, so I just went in. 

What was the reality of starting a food truck?

I have a sports background, I was a former college athlete at Youngstown State University and Miami of Ohio. I realized to be able to have any brand or business, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Vurger Guyz is a passion project. I was passionate about it, I believed in it. I saw this vision before we sold the first burger. 

Why Vurger Guyz?

We just replaced the B with V. At Vurger Guyz, we don’t wanna push veganism on you. We want to give you a great food experience, and allow you to take that and go with it. Just take a piece of the gem we’re giving you, and give you the ability to move on in whatever direction it takes you in. 

What separates Vurgur Guyz from other plant-based restaurants?

The biggest thing for us is we aren’t competing with other plant-based brands. We think our burgers are as good as any burgers, it just happens to be vegan.

Love the OneBiteWarranty, that’s genius! How’d that come about?

In the first weeks of having Vurger Guyz, it was very very difficult to have someone try a plant-based burger. Me being in front of the truck advocating, I realized it was a lot of times I’d tell customers, “I see you’re on the edge about trying it: I’ll let you order the food, sit down and have a bite. After one bite, if you enjoy your bite, you pay for it after your meal. If you don’t like it, I’ll finish It.” [laughs] I never got to finish anybody else’s so we felt it was a great insert to show the authenticity of our brand. 

Talk about turning it into a million dollar business in 4 years. 

That comes from being able to give the customers that experience. That experience of knowing that you didn’t have to sacrifice an animal, you didn’t have to sacrifice your taste. You didn’t have to sacrifice that traditional thought process of giving up — a lot of people in California are known to like In-N-Out. They’re known to like a good burger. For you to still be able to experience that and it happens to be vegan, that right there is the cheat code. 

All the celebrity cosigns you guys have had, does one stand out over the other?

A lot of celebrities cosign Vurger Guyz from the beginning. Someone like Christina Milian, she cosigned us from the very beginning, at Rolling Loud. The crazy part is most of our customers aren’t vegan, they just happen to love Vurgur Guyz. We give them the ability to eat plant-based without feeling guilty or feeling like they have to sacrifice. Christina Milian, Snoop Dogg, Lil Durk, you name it. It’s so many celebrities that sponsor us and we don’t even know it. To be honest, it’s amazing. But my biggest accomplishments are when I meet people and they say Vurger Guyz give them the opportunity to go vegan and lose weight, them seeing the benefits going vegan. I like the fact that we’re changing peoples’ lives, that’s the biggest cosign.

Do you have any plans for World Vegan Day? 

Right now we’re working on letting that kick us off into a vegan food day week. We want to do some activations with some big brands, to continue push out our dreams and be able to be a gateway. We want Vurger Guyz to be a getaway to opening your mind. We aren’t a brand that’s pushing you to be vegan, just because it takes time to think about changing the way you eat. Because it took time for me, I wouldn’t want anybody to change by one time trying Vurger Guyz. But it gives you the opportunity to know that this vegan brand changes perception of vegan.