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Things have changed from the once desolate plain of vegan options to almost a flood like furry of new and exciting vegan products that are readily available. In the vast marketplace of vegan products, It’s tuff to stand apart while all the Goliath corporations are cashing in on the cow. It’s a different story for this Austin based company called Snack Jack™.
When we first tried the Jerky here at The Phat Vegan, We were all literally stunned by the meaty like texture and amazing taste! So we had to reach out to the owner of the worlds first plant-based jerky made from jackfruit, to find out all about the vegan voodoo magic that was placed on us!
1. When did you make the choice to become vegan and why?
I always knew I’d make a vegan product. There was never a question about it. I’d studied culinary arts and business and had ideas to have my own food business someday, and while I ate meat here and there over the years, I’ve cooked only vegetarian and avoided dairy for 8 years. I could never imagine contributing or profiting from the suffering of an animal and in the case of a restaurant, food truck or product, the suffering of an unimaginable amount of animals. My brother and I aren’t vegan, but we grew up with a raw vegan father and a pescatarian mother who showed us the beauty of eating vegetarian meals. I started to eat a plant-based diet to practice ahimsa, or nonviolence, one of the Hindu yogas. It was important to me to not create violence in the world, to not put any more pain out there than there already was. I’m a strong believer that we are what we eat also, so if I’m eating an animal that was killed in fear, then I’m eating its fear. That’s not good for me and it’s not good for that animal. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I don’t eat meat though. Since becoming pregnant I’ve become anemic and started having blackout spells, and while I still refuse to bring meat into the house, I do have it on occasion now. By day, I work for a nonprofit that specializes in improving welfare standards for farm animals, so if I’m going to have an egg, I want it to be pasture-raised and certified. I’m looking forward to getting back to a vegetarian diet. In the meantime, I’m excited that I can share a vegan product (that meat-eaters love) with the world! From the beginning, the idea was to create a vegan snack that would cater to meat eaters. I wanted to create an option that would get regular, everyday people from any diet to reduce the amount of meat they eat. It wasn’t until just before our launch that the product was ever tested on a vegan. There are vegan options out there, we know how to eat vegan and we enjoy it. The real trick was finding something that would get the world to consume less meat. That, in a nutshell, is what Snack Jack is all about.
2. When did you come up with the idea to open Snack Jack?
Snack Jack™ was born out of a kayaking trip on Austin’s Colorado River in the summer of 2016. When the idea came to me, it came as an epiphany. I visualized it entirely — the recipe, the method, all of it — and just knew without a doubt that it would work. So much so, that I decided to test my theory immediately. I ran home, went online, and purchased the cheapest used dehydrator I could find so I could find to test it out. $20 and a few hours later, Snack Jack™ was born.
3. What is your mission statement?
Our mission is to nourish people, be kind to animals, and heal the planet one snack at a time.
This means providing people with a healthy, wholesome snack made from natural, plant-powered ingredients, aiding in the reduction of meat consumption and its harmful effects on the environment, and creating a solution for the waste of jackfruit and its negative effects as an invasive species in the rainforests of Brazil.
4. How many people are in the company?
There are just two of us! Team Snack Jack is made up of sister-brother duo Diana and Julian Dussan. I’m the brains behind the jerky and handle all of the design, marketing, social media, and website management. Julian is the brains behind the operation. He truly makes Snack Jack possible. While I throw things at the wall to see what sticks (a very left-brain approach), Julian is blessed with an extremely sharp left and right brain. He streamlines everything we do so that we are as efficient as possible in every part of the business. We both have really big ideas for Snack Jack and together I think we make the perfect team to take the product nationally.
5. What have the reactions been so far?
We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response. We’ve actually been really humbled and amazed by its reception. At our first market, we were met with people who traveled *just* to come see us. It happened again at our second market, even on the coldest day of the year when it was misting, windy, and the windchill was 25 degrees! Since our official product launch on New Year’s Eve, we’ve had inquiries from retailers as far as Connecticut who want to have our product on their shelves. It’s been incredible! Every day our email and we’ve got more great news and more and more opportunities. Our plan has always been to expand to local retailers and then to hit up the big guys, but with such a welcoming reception, we’re looking at what it would take to scale up the business even sooner. This is only the beginning!
6. How much do you LOVE Austin?
Austin is the best city in the world. I’ve lived on 5 continents, speak three languages, and have traveled a lot. Austin is home. I only moved here a little over a year ago. I was busy galavanting around the world teaching English or making and selling jewelry on a beach, but when I finally decided to come back to the States and settle down, I knew it would be in Austin. I live and breathe the outdoors, I spend all of my money on wining and dining and live to explore and learn and try new things. Austin is the city for all of that! It’s an adventurer’s dream
7. What are your 1 year 3 year and 5-year goals with the company?
This year we’re focusing on local farmers’ markets. After that, we’d like to scale up and sell our product at local retailers like People’s RX, Juiceland, Wheatsville, and even breweries and little coffee shops. Long term, we have plans to approach larger Texas retailers like H-E-B and Central Market, followed by national retailers like Whole Foods.
8. Where can we find your product?
Right now you can find Snack Jack at the following markets:
— Every Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller
— Every First Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm at The Wandering Vegan popup market
— Once a month at Vegan Stop Shop in San Antonio
— And we’ve just been accepted to Texas Veg Fest, which is in April!
— Follow us on social media for updates of new markets and places to find us
We’re always looking for new markets and new opportunities. We’re currently working on a bulk delivery service. Buy a case of 12 bags, get 2 bags free! Something like that. Once we work out the logistics, we’ll go live with that. We encourage people to follow our Event Page on social media to see what we’re up to and where we’re going to be. We’re trying our best to be as accessible as possible, so we’ve chosen farmers’ markets that are north, south, central and now even bulk delivery!