Growing up in Matamoros, Gisel Ledezma was surrounded by meat.

Regular staples of her diet included street tacos, barbacoa, menudo, corn in a cup and tamales.

At her new food truck, The Green Table, she’s serving up these same dishes from her childhood but with a vegan and vegetarian twist. The food truck’s regular menu includes vegan and vegetarian hot dogs, hamburgers and tacos. Weekly special items have included corn in a cup and tamales.

She said she realized there was a market for vegan and vegetarian food back in April, when she became a vegan. In Victoria, Ledezma said, the restaurant options for vegans were limited to ordering sides at Chinese restaurants or fries at a drive-thru.

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Back when she ate animal products, she said, her options were much less limited.

“Every Friday after work, I’d go to the taco stand and get some tacos,” Ledezma said. “I wanted to have something people already like to eat. Something that’s your day-to-day food.”

For Victoria resident Abraham Mendoza, who isn’t a vegan or vegetarian, the restaurant provides an additional opportunity to substitute meat with vegetables and other plant-based products.

“Every now and then, I’ll definitely choose that option over meat,” Mendoza said. “I feel like it’s a more healthy alternative.”

People who watch their meat consumption are a growing population in the U.S.

According to the Good Food Institute, dollar sales of plant-based alternatives to animal-based foods, like tofu, seitan, soy milk and other dairy alternatives, grew 32% between April 2017 and April 2019, while overall U.S. food sales rose only 4% during the same period.

Meanwhile, multiple news outlets, including Forbes and The Guardian, have reported the popularity of veganism in the U.S. is growing.

Ledezma decided to become vegan after she began listening to a Spanish podcast called “El Podcast de Marco Antonio Regil.” She said the host’s choice to be a vegan inspired her.

She remembers the date, July 5, she told her husband she wanted to start a food truck.

Less than two months later, Aug. 24, her business opened at the Curbside Cuisines food truck park on Navarro Street.

Ledezma said she was able to get her business off the ground so quickly because she is a personal banker at Wells Fargo. She said her job familiarized her with the necessary permits and licenses required to operate a food truck.

As Ledezma continues to work her day job, she said she’s received help at the truck from her mother and husband, who work there with her during its weekend hours.

“It has made me feel very blessed,” Ledezma said. “I was so scared to open something on my own. The more you open up to people, the more you get people coming to you willing to help you. It’s all about taking the first step.”

Morgan is the business reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at (361) 580-6328, or @mcohanlon.

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