CINCINNATI — It took a health scare for them to do it, but one couple turned vegans changed their lifestyle and opened a food truck. 

What You Need To Know

  • Jamaal and List Kelly opened up the "Vegan Treats, Meats, and Eats" food truck in Cincinnati in January

  • They make food with only plant based products and use flavoring to make it look like comfort and soul food 

  • They plan to open more food trucks and go to underserved areas 

It might look like macaroni and chicken wings, but what’s in it, or what’s not in it, is what Jamaal Kelly said helped him lose 70 pounds in three months, but not exactly on purpose. 

“I didn’t want to be vegan. I had a small health scare, and my wife threw all the food out, and when I came home from the hospital, we were vegan,” said Jamaal.

His wife, Lisa Kelly, still gets all the healthy foods ready, but not just for him.

“Once we were eating all our food, people were asking us, how do you make this? How do you make that? How did you all lose so much weight? And then that’s when the food truck popped up,” she said.

The couple opened "Vegan Treats, Meats and Eats" this year, a vegan food truck in Cincinnati. 

“Everything we got, everybody swear it’s not vegan,” said Jamaal.

But the culinary-trained cook said what he makes has no meat, just plants that he makes to look like comfort food. 

“I use a base Gardein meat, but then I also do my own little thing with it. I marinate it, and I bread it. I batter it,” he said. 

He wouldn’t tell secret flavors, but it’s drawing people to the areas in the city where they set up shop. 

He said their goal is to start more vegan food trucks and go to areas where cooked healthier foods are harder to come by. 

“I want to be able to give to the people. It’s not just about giving to the people who can afford the food,” said Jamaal.

This after he said eating healthy changed his life.

“The doctor said I don’t need to come back and don’t need to take any medications. Everything else is just a blessing,” said Jamaal.

Libby Mills, a registered dietician nutritionist and national spokeperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, joined Spectrum News 1 to talk about the growing popularity of going vegan during the pandemic. 

Mills also shared a Thai-Peanut Marinated Tofu Bites recipe that serves four people. 

Ingredients you'll need: 

8 ounces extra firm or firm tofu depending on what’s available

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons sesame seed oil

3 tablespoons nut or seed butter (cashew, almond, soy, sunflower seed, peanut, etc.)

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Tools you'll need:

Baking tray with sides

Parchment paper

Cutting board

Chef knife

1-2 quart dish for marinating, a sealable plastic bag can also be used if marinating over night




Paring knife

Fork (optional for juicing)

Tongs (optional for juicing)


Oven or Toaster oven


1.     Preheat your oven to 375 F.

2.     Prepare a baking pan by covering it with a piece of parchment paper.

3.     Lengthwise, slice the drained tofu into ½ inch slices.  Place the slices in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel and cover with a second clean kitchen towel.  Using the palm of your hand press out excess moisture.

4.     Cut the tofu into appetizer-size triangles or pieces.  Set aside.

5.     In a 1-2 quart dish, whisk together the red pepper flakes, sesame seed oil, nut or seed butter, low-sodium soy sauce, lime juice and maple syrup.

6.     One piece at a time, add the tofu to the marinade, completely coating all sides.   For the best flavor, cover the dish and marinate to tofu in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

7.     Place each piece onto the prepared baking tray for baking.

8.     Before baking, drizzle the leftover marinade over each piece.

9.     Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the marinade becomes a deep caramel colored.

10.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition facts:

184 Calories

Protein: 8.5 g

Carbohydrates: 15 g

Fiber: 1.3 g

Fat: 9.8 g

Saturated Fat: 1.5 g

Monounsaturated Fat: 4.1 g

Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.2 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 332 mg