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Plant-based food truck aims to combat climate change

Plant-based food truck aims to combat climate change

Plant-based food truck aims to combat climate change
December 09
12:00 2022

On the corner of Avenue C and Eagle Drive sits a small black food truck, selling burgers and fries that look like what you could get at any other fast food restaurant.

However, there is one thing that sets its menu apart from other traditional burger joints — every item is completely plant-based.

Jackie Mays Burger opened in April and serves up what owner and founder Kevin Cochran calls “crave-worthy food.” Though the entire menu is plant-based, the food truck — named after Cochran’s wife and son — is not specifically marketed toward vegans or vegetarians.

While Cochran recently adopted a vegetarian diet for himself, he does not intend on converting people to a plant-based lifestyle. Rather, he started a plant-based burger business to help combat climate change. 

“We just want people to incorporate [plant-based food] into their diets and lifestyle for themselves, but also for the planet,” Cochran said.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 16.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and can lead to deforestation and loss of biodiversity, according to Humane Society International. Additionally, cattle farming in particular is one of the largest causes of soil erosion due to overgrazing and feed growing, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Originally from California, Cochran has a background in the food industry and was on the startup team for Freebirds World Burrito. He also has experience in clean technology and served on the board of the Sustainability Management Association, which encourages people to incorporate sustainable practices into the workplace and their everyday lives.

This is where Cochran met people in the food industry who were working toward sustainability, namely Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. After working with others from these companies, he learned how harmful animal agriculture is to the planet and transitioned back into food service.

While helping open Freebirds’ second location in College Station, Texas, Cochran made several trips down from California as the store was built.

“During that time, the idea grew in the back of my mind that Texas is really a good place for business in general, and I thought that the [Jackie Mays] concept would do really well in Denton,” Cochran said.

When Cochran decided to open the business, he looked at different places around North Texas, including Arlington and North Dallas. Ultimately, he decided being near the university would be beneficial.

While looking for a location to open, Cochran used his connections with Freebirds and visited the Denton location. There, he met Walter Parker, former Denton Freebirds general manager and current Jackie Mays general manager. When Cochran began looking for someone to be his general manager in March 2022, Parker volunteered.

“[Cochran] wasn’t looking specifically for me, because he probably thought I was stable in my GM position [at Freebirds] — which I was […] — but I was looking for something else, a new path,” Parker said. “It’s kind of a fortuitous, fateful thing that [Cochran] happened to contact me.”

Along with being the general manager, Parker also serves as the grill cook and cashier and is typically the one running the food truck. Parker says there are differences between his current position and his position as a general manager at a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but he is enjoys being part of the growth of a new business.

“It’s a strange thing, the trailer is, because of the limitations with weather and location,” Parker said. “You have to have good foot traffic. [You] can’t take drive-through orders and there’s not really a sit-down option. So on our part, we basically just need to continue to make really good food and interact with customers really well.”

Fashion merchandising junior Carla Guzman tried Jackie Mays when the truck came to her apartment complex in October and has been back three times since.

“I’m actually vegetarian, so when I came here to Denton I was looking for some good vegan or vegetarian options to try out,” Guzman said. “I was expecting prices to be elevated given that vegan and vegetarian food tends to be pricier, but [Jackie Mays] actually has low prices and great tasting food.”

In the future, Cochran hopes to add a brick-and-mortar store to the Jackie Mays brand and open a location in the University Union. In the meantime, he encourages people to try incorporating plant-based alternatives into their diets.

“We believe that every bite someone takes [of our burgers] is a bite combatting climate change,” Cochran said.

Featured Image: Jackie Mays Burger founder Kevin Cochran stands in front of the Jackie Mays truck on Avenue C on Nov. 16, 2022. Photo by Marco Barrera

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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