NuVegan Cafe and Everlasting Life are the most heard of and loved vegan restaurants in the entire DMV area. The original store located right near the heart of Georgia Ave North West, has assisted many people with creating a love for vegan food by revolutionizing what we know as “Soul Food”. No matter what, if you live in Washington, D.C. or Maryland, or Virginia, and you say you’re a vegan, the first question that someone is going to ask is, “Have you been to Nuvegan Cafe on Georgia Ave” and my response without hesitation is always yes, but I really want to say, I’ve been going there when they were still Everlasting Life back in 2012. It has been one of the best parts of living in the city, and has served as a reason as to why I felt safe transitioning into full veganism. It is a place that is versatile to non-vegans, vegans, and even raw vegans. Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, and Drake are just a few bigger names that can swear by their amazing cuisine that has taken a healthier and more wholesome twist on soul food.
In 2012, while I was transitioning from my sophomore to Junior Year in High School, I heard a friend my my church talking about her and her family fasting and they would get food from Everlasting Life when it broke. The first time I heard her mention it, I had no idea that they served vegan food, but I knew that whatever she had, smelled amazing after she opened her plate. A few months after that, my sister asked me if I wanted something from an all vegan restaurant called Everlasting Life, and I agreed without hesitation. She and I drove over and I decided to get a Steak and Cheese with Fries and Cinnamon Bun. The smell was driving me crazy while she and I were driving back home, so I knew that it was going to be a breathtaking meal. When I got back home and finally dug into it, I was perplexed. At the time I was a pescatarian and open to meat alternatives, but I had no idea that vegan food and desserts could be that good, as I was a part of the uninformed crowd at the time. The next time that I went there, I had the fried drumsticks and the vegan mac and cheese as a side and it changed my life. Now, the drumsticks were amazing and gave me the sensation that I was actually munching on a real chicken wing. But the mac and cheese hit my soul. I had no idea that something that didn’t actually taste like cheese would actually be able to successfully remind of traditional macaroni and cheese. I thought that it was the creamiest, and most savory version of macaroni and cheese to a point where I began to prefer it to non-vegan mac and cheese. And any time I went there, I always made sure that the vegan mac and cheese made it onto my plate, and if they didn’t have it ready at the time of my arrival, I waited for them to make more. I soon fell in love with their vegan brunch. Which again, was a first for me.
Not long after I fell in love with them, they changed their name to Woodlands Vegan Bistro. And then a separate Everlasting Life (which has since kept its name) in Capitol Heights opened shortly after that, still serving vegan soul food and Brunch on the weekends. They were the first restaurant in this area to introduce the Soy-Free Cashew Mac and Cheese and quite a few more soy-free options as entrees that turned out to be amazing. After I moved out to Landover, I had more opportunities to visit this location and fall in love with it since it was right down the road from me. I discovered their Maple Curry Drummies which happen to be amazing. Around this same time, Woodland’s Vegan Bistro became NuVegan Cafe and it stuck. I was ecstatic because I knew that it was going to be the last name change, and I was not able to keep up. And soon enough, a location popped up in College Park, Maryland under NuVegan and I was ecstatic that they chose to turn it into a chain.
I love that they opened Nuvegan in College Park because it not only caters to a new area of Prince George’s county that is not near Everlasting life, but it being located close to University of Maryland, caters to the population of college students and exposes the lifestyle to those who are not native to this area. Personally, I believe that Everlasting Life being open in Capitol Heights and staying open for so long shows that they successfully filled a void for vegans, vegetarians, and health conscious people, as well as skeptics alike. I think the action of having a vegan restaurant in that area is amazing because they took an opportunity to expose minorities in this area to Vegan Soul Food and Show us that it can be just as good as their non-vegan alternatives. Now, NuVegan has a location in Richmond Virginia, and Everlasting Life has locations in Takoma Park, and Anacostia inside of Anacostia Arts Center which is also available through Uber Eats.
Like I said before, these establishments has not only given vegans a place to get amazing food, but has provided natives in this area to healthier, guilt-free alternatives, by revolutionizing comfort foods so none of us can say that we miss mac and cheese or chicken wings. 20-30 years ago, we would not be able to say that we’re heading over to a vegan soul food spot, and because these establishments have given us the chance to utter those words so comfortably, they are deeply loved throughout the DMV and appreciated by all who walk into their doors.