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While soul food is a cuisine that originated in the southern United States, the origination of the cooking style had its roots in the traditional dishes of West Africa, which were brought over to America by those who were enslaved.

While the cooking style of primarily grain and vegetables was passed down from West Africa, the kinds of food options made available to enslaved people in America was vastly different. Desperate to augment sustenance for survival, discarded, undesirable scraps of meat such as pig intestines, ears, hocks, necks and feet a food source for enslaved people. Like magicians, they transformed innards and trash into dishes that have become a staple of American cuisine.

As the term "soul" was used to signify the deep emotional and cultural connections that African Americans had to their food, music, and traditions, the term, soul food was made popular during the height of the civil rights era.

Giving African Americans an opportunity to reclaim and retool heritage around a culture of food born out of necessity and scarcity, soul food served as a warm and familiar reminder of the fortitude and resilience of a people taking back a piece of identity.

Honored to shine a light on heritage and history, EJ's offers a wide variety of classic soulful dishes as well as a vast array of nutrient-rich, vegan starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and side options created by clinically endorsed vegan cookbook author, Dawn Hilton Williams.

In addition to their intentionality around vegan food option inclusion, EJ's went a step further with their embrace of authentic, island mango and other premium beverage products by EBN vegan cuisine's own Shonda Caines.

Taking EJ's lead, more restaurants should tap experienced, nutrition-focused, vegan culinarians in the menu and early development stages to ensure that everyone feels welcome home!

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