ORLANDO, Fla. – A previous girlfriend initially introduced Shaun Noonan to the idea of switching to a vegan diet program, but it is a way of life that has occur to define his do the job.

“That (romantic relationship) was younger in my teenagers, so I had under no circumstances truly shaped that traditional damaging belief of vegetarianism,” Noonan recalled. “I grew up enjoying ice hockey and martial arts and issues like that — and I was also having greens. So I in no way definitely bought that basic masculine detail that vegetables equivalent weak spot or anything at all like that.”


Noonan now owns and operates Dharma Southern Kitchen area, a vegan restaurant chain aimed at turning Southern-influenced food into totally plant-based mostly meals.

“One-hundred per cent plant-centered and Southern delicacies was the most ridiculous thing that I could tackle,” Noonan reported. “Plant-centered food items at the time — every person was making an attempt to market you these like, carrot sticks and hummus dip and convincing you that these collard wraps were being foodstuff, and I’m like, ‘Man, come on. No one has to take in that garbage.’”


Noonan needed to provide people today vegan foods that hit all the high notes of delicacies — sweet, savory, salty, spicy and umami. He points out that several dishes commonly associated with Southern food items are by now vegan at their core.

“A lot of it is unintentionally vegan in the very first put, like mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes till you pour cheese and milk into it,” Noonan said. “You know, that’s just one thing that the dairy sector pressured us to do. Fifty years back, we all were instructed that if we didn’t take in dairy, by some means our bones ended up heading to liquefy or we weren’t likely to mature up adequately or some nonsense like that.”

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Noonan claimed he also in a natural way gravitated towards Southern delicacies for it “heartiness.” The chef lived about the earth and the place by his work in the culinary earth and even prior to that as a self-described “Army brat,” together with stints in Central Florida.


“I was raised primarily in an Italian household and so and I like Italian cuisine. I just imagined that Southern cuisine was gaining this sort of a status of getting meat-centered that I wanted to be a disruptor manufacturer,” he explained.

In the long run, Noonan mentioned he does not hope to transform the masses into vegans. He also reported he does not want to disgrace people for taking in and having fun with meat.

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His genuine purpose is to make vegan foods a component of the dialogue.

“I just want it to be element of that dialogue, where by it’s like, ‘Man, I have not had excellent vegan meals in like two months, let’s go get vegan,’” he explained.

As he seems to be to expand that dialogue, Noonan just lately secured funding to increase Dharma’s footprint throughout Florida. Noonan hopes to have three new locations open up by the conclude of 2022.


On the hottest episode of Florida Foodie, Noonan talks about his growth strategies and his intention of franchising Dharma. He also shares his enjoy of Bulgarian delicacies and why he is inspired by fast-food stuff chains incorporating plant-primarily based alternatives to their menu.

You should follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can locate Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Fb and Twitter and you can look at out her children’s e book, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”

Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that usually takes a closer seem at what we eat, how we eat it and the affect that has on us right here in Florida and for anyone, almost everywhere. Locate new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or where ever you obtain your preferred podcasts.


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By Taba