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The ‘Vegan Chef Challenge’ has hit El Paso kitchens

Annabella Mireles
Not only is Cinnaholic participating in the Vegan Chef Challenge, but their entire menu is vegan friendly and includes cookie dough scoops and cinnamon rolls.

For the entire month of September, select restaurants throughout the city of El Paso will be participating in the Vegan Chef Challenge (VCC). Each business is either featuring a new variety of vegan menu items or is already completely vegan at the start of the competition.  

There are currently 11 restaurants throughout Sun City that are participating in the VCC. Whether people are craving Italian, Mexican, Fusion or a sweet treat, every location offers a different cuisine to satisfy that hunger.  

The list of participating restaurants includes One Grub Community Diner, TacoShop/Around the World Catering Service, Rulis’ International Kitchen, Savage Goods, Cinnaholic, The Pizza Joint, Lick It Up, EPCC Culinary Arts Thirteen09 Restaurant, T-Mama’s Gourmet Pizza, Bolton Bakes and Dom’s Vegan. 

The VCC is presented by Vegan Outreach, an animal advocacy organization. Many people assume that being vegan is only based on the interest of animal protection or environmentalism. While those are reasons for some, another main goal of this challenge is to help introduce people to veganism in a more accessible way while also accommodating the existing vegan population in communities. 

Maintaining a vegan lifestyle can be especially difficult in El Paso considering that most of the population is Latinx, more specifically – Mexican. Mexican food is heavily meat based so finding plant alternatives that are not frozen or mass produced can be very challenging. The purpose of the VCC is to challenge local restaurants, so this culture can easily be met and mixed with a vegan twist.  

For example, Lick It Up is already a 100 percent plant-based restaurant that serves Mexican street food and has been in El Paso since 2017.  

Some El Pasoans may recognize this name as this food-truck turned restaurant was once featured in the famous food reality television series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” The popularity it experienced not only helped owner Edgar Delfin move into downtown International Bar located on 114 Mills Ave., but also made an expansion into Austin, Texas possible.  

“We haven’t added anything. Some of our newer items are a lot of the Verdes! So, like the Verde Flautas and the Verde Burrito. Those are some of the new ones, and the Papa Asada Taco,” said Xavier Perez, Lick It Up employee, when asked about their involvement in the challenge. 

Restaurant goers will also appreciate the process and ingredients that the Lick It Up kitchen uses when preparing their dishes. 

“Something that’s different about ours (restaurant) is that we don’t use any of the beyond meat or any of the processed stuff,” Perez said. “So, it is kind of almost made the same way that the meat is made, right? With the same marinades, the same seasonings and stuff.” 

Also participating in the VCC is Savage Goods, a café that has also been in El Paso since 2017 with a wide variety of menu items for every patron to enjoy. This is another business that started off with simpler beginnings. 

Originally a farmer’s market stand that only sold baked goods, the Savage family helped expand their dreams through food and community. They are now located in what was once Jimmy’s Grocery at 1201 N. Oregon St., continuing a local legacy through different means.  

Savage Goods employee and family business member, Luke Savage, shared some of the new menu items they are featuring for the competition.  

“One of the first items that we’re serving that I’m super excited about is the Chickpea Fries! They’re seasoned with herbs and served with a homemade curry ketchup,” he said. “Another item that we’ve got is the vegan Border Burger which people have really been enjoying the past few days. And then we’re also doing cake in a cup!” 

While these are some of the menu items Savage Goods is featuring for the month, it should be noted that their regular menu is also fairly plant-based.  

“Our menu is probably 40 percent vegan and all of our pastries are vegan!” Savage said. 

For anyone with a sweet tooth looking for vegan-friendly dessert options, El Pasoans can look no further than the Cinnaholic that found its way to the Fountains at Farah at 8889 Gateway Blvd. West in 2019.  

This bakery is another business that was vegan prior to its participation in the VCC.  

 “Well, everything on our menu is vegan. Everything in our store, everything that we sell, is all vegan,” said Michelle Ramirez, Cinnaholic employee. 

While they have no new menu items to feature during the month of September, Cinnaholic has countless make your own and featured cinnamon rolls for people to enjoy. This is great considering that it continues to broaden the community food-wise and allow people access to treats that are made with vegan ingredients. 

“We’re trying to involve everyone, you know?” Ramirez said.  

If anyone would like to get involved and leave feedback on these restaurants and the menu items that are available, people can visit the listed locations and vote for their favorite dishes. The winner of this challenge will be announced in early October.  

The VCC also encourages diners to take part in the “10 Weeks to Vegan” challenge, which encourages people to slowly incorporate vegan food items and habits into their lifestyle to help combat animal cruelty and climate change.  

This challenge helps ease participants into a vegan diet by providing nutritional tips, recommendations, and recipes. For more information on this visit, 

For updates on the challenge visit, 


Meagan Garcia is the arts & culture editor and may be reached at [email protected].  



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About the Contributors
Meagan Elizabeth García
Meagan Elizabeth García, Arts & Culture Editor
Meagan Elizabeth García is the arts and culture for The Prospector. She is a senior, majoring in mechanical engineering at UTEP. She is also the vice-president for the Creative Writing Society with hopes of continuing a writing career while also working for NASA as an engineer.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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The ‘Vegan Chef Challenge’ has hit El Paso kitchens