What’s in a name?
For Latisha Daring, who opened the popular vegan restaurant Greedi Vegan in 2019, actions speak louder than words
Featuring Latisha Daring
Photography by Shana Trajanoska
Words by Laura Neilson
Though it’s been five years since Latisha Daring left her career in fashion to open her Brooklyn restaurant, Greedi Vegan, she still seems somewhat dismayed by her own decision. “My friends in fashion think I'm crazy. They’re like, ‘Who does that? Who goes from fashion to food, like the toughest industry ever?’” she says, laughing. “I had no idea that would be me!” And yet, with a last name like Daring, it would seem as though the universe has always had ambitious plans for the vibrant, 49-year-old Brooklynite.
Given the abundance of vegan offerings now occupying grocer’s shelves and freezer aisles, it’s almost outrageous to fathom that was hardly the case less than a few decades ago. Daring, who was raised on a vegan diet during a stretch of her childhood (owing to a Rastafarian mother), says that the foods she subsisted on in her youth—”tofu was a main staple,” she recalls— barely resemble the flavorful Soul Bowls, lavish with gluten-free mac and cheese, comforting sweet potatoes and kale, that Greedi Vegan’s customers clamor for the most. In fact it was travel (to 26 countries and counting), not tofu (which she hates to this day), that informed Daring’s palate and exposed her to, quite literally, a world of plant-based foods and cultures. “I just found so many exciting ways to cook vegetables, and so many different flavor profiles,” she says. “One of my favorite culinary experiences was in Ghana. That was the first place I actually had oyster mushrooms, which are literally a number one seller on my menu now.”
As eye-opening and delicious as these experiences were, a foray into the food industry wasn’t originally a consideration for Daring, who had spent over two decades working in fashion, including at one point running her own clothing boutique. But a personal shift (“I reached a plateau in my career where I didn’t care that much about the exterior, and really wanted to focus more on the internal,”), eventually coalesced with a clear and visible need for greater access to more flavorful, diverse, and affordable vegan options in her community.
She opened Greedi Vegan’s first eatery, a 300-square-foot storefront in 2018, which the concept quickly outgrew. With funding raised by a robust Kickstarter campaign, Greedi Vegan’s current location opened the following year on Tompkins Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, a neighborhood where Daring purposefully aimed to settle. “For me, it's about giving access to healthy food in a community where that doesn't necessarily exist—and making it accessible and affordable. It starts conversations that are necessary about health and wellness as it relates to the community that lives here,” she explains. “It's all obviously, based on diet, and lack of movement of body. And so, when you have a community that doesn't necessarily have options to question things, or build their knowledge, then you'll continue to perpetuate that for generations to come.”
But along with a healthy diet, strong social connectedness in one’s community is also an integral pillar of wellness and longevity—and Greedi Vegan offers that bountifully. The restaurant remained open throughout the pandemic (with the exception of two days), making it a consoling beacon at an otherwise grim and dark-feeling period. “That was just so inspiring for me—that I had created something that gave people a sense of normalcy during a time of uncertainty,” Daring recalls, noting that it was one of the restaurant’s busiest times.
When asked about what’s ahead for Daring and Greedi Vegan—more locations, perhaps?—she’s more intent on spreading her food and message in an even broader way. “Definitely a book,” she says. “I’m just not sure if I want to do a full cookbook, or a combination that’s also a memoir, and my journey as an entrepreneur and this little girl who grew up in Brooklyn, who was able to dream big. Because I’ve done a lot.”
Food Credits: Greedi Vegan dishes featured in this story, all lovingly made by Latisha Daring, include Sweet Potato Pancakes (served with fruit compote, shitake bacon & coconut cream), Yellow Corn Grits ( served with oyster mushrooms) and Mini Frittatas—special thanks to Carline Balin.
Greedi Vegan Recipes