Photos by Ruta Smith

Festival Favorites

Vegan Demon co-owners and music festival fanatics Jordan Lied and Alexandra Lesley had trouble finding plant-based bites at concerts, a problem their new pop-up will help solve by serving 100% vegan fare that will satisfy even the most devout meat-lover. 

“Our business model is more or less catered towards carnivores,” Lied said. “It’s a middle ground for people intrigued by veganism who want popular foods that you think you can’t enjoy anymore. We thought that there would be a great demand for it.”

The Charleston natives went vegan in 2017 shortly after moving to Florida, where they quickly fell in love with the vegan eateries in their Sarasota neighborhood. But, the couple came back to Charleston earlier this year with a new idea — one built around the food served at music festivals, Lied said. 

“We’re big music festival fans, and we noticed a pretty big gap in the market at festivals for plant-based food,” said Lied, who was shocked at the lack of vegan options in his hometown. “We were really excited to be pioneers getting this culture developed in the city, and we wanted to collaborate with breweries. We have a nice list that we are putting together.” 

But, how can you turn fried festival favorites into plant-based dishes? According to Lied, it’s simple. 

“The technology we have today and the availability of local produce — it’s really a market that’s exploding right now,” he said. “We have burgers, cheesesteaks, quick and fast fried foods and fried Oreos. Everything is 100% plant-based, and we want to focus on gluten-free options in the future.”  

Vegan Demon’s burger, for instance, combines Impossible Foods’ plant-based patty with Bibb lettuce, tomato, dill pickle chips and Follow Your Heart American vegan cheese. It’s topped with their signature “demon sauce,” a riff on spicy mayonnaise that’s made using vegenaise mayo, melted vegan butter, tomato paste, maple syrup, garlic powder, paprika, sriracha and distilled water. 

For dessert, Vegan Demon goes all in on the festival spirit with its made-from-scratch fried Oreos, which are coated in an egg-free pancake batter and fried in vegetable oil. 

Vegan Demon launched in March, and its recently popped up at Fatty’s Beer Works, Lo-Fi Brewing, Ghost Monkey Brewery and The Barrel. Moving forward, post-COVID-19, Lied and Lesley hope to purchase a truck so they make good on their vision of feeding the masses. 

“We definitely still want to do a tour of the Southeastern music festivals, and the idea is to not only do music festivals but broaden that out too,” Lied said. “I just think the room for growth is huge in this market.”