Kula Foods brings Afrocentric vegan fare to Vancouver

The inaugural line of the plant-based food producer is inspired by flavours of Kenya

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      Vancouver vegans have all sorts of options when it comes to local food offerings, whether it’s freshly made nondairy cheeses from Blue Heron Creamery or mobile kitchens such as Rolling Cashew and Organic Villa.

      Certain global flavours, however—namely those from Africa and the Carribean—have been somewhat lacking on this front. That’s what gave rise to Kula Foods.

      The plant-based food producer is a dream project of founders Asha Wheeldon and Jessica Fyffe.

      Fyffe is of Jamaican ancestry, while Wheeldon is Kenyan and was raised in Isiolo, a small town north of Nairobi. The two left their careers in the corporate world to focus on creating and sharing the kinds of foods they grew up with while making a lifestyle change by embracing a plant-based diet.

      “Although there are many plant-based food options in Vancouver, we found few from our African and Caribbean heritage,” Wheeldon tells the Straight. “Kula means eat in Swahili. Our value is community, and we aim to bring people together through food.”

      Kula Foods’ inaugural product line is inspired by diverse Kenyan flavours.

      Sukuma Stew takes its name from one of its main ingredients, collard, which is a staple leafy green in Kenya. The hearty dish also has lentils, spinach, and a spice blend consisting of cardamom,  paprika, cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, and cumin. 

      The duo has teamed up with Gomae Meal Prep to share its signature Kula Bowl, which features sukuma stew on rice pilau with pan-fried plantains, kachumbari (salsa) salad, and pili pili, a hot sauce made with chili peppers.

      The Kula duo, who work out of Commissary Connect, also make chapati and mandazi, which are known as Swahili doughnuts.

      Kula Foods will be at the Riley Park (Nat Bailey) Farmers Market on February 2. Its products are also available at the Juice Truck, Vegan Supply, the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, and Spent Grounds.

      Wheeldon and Fyffe have other plans for 2019, including pop-ups and an expanded community dining series. More info is at Kula Foods.