University of Memphis students will able to enjoy an all new full-service vegan restaurant next month. Guru’s City Vegan will open its doors at 509 S. Highland on the Highland Strip.
One of the restaurant’s owners, Chef Daudi “Da Vegan Guru” McLean started his vegan journey after moving to Los Angeles. McLean lost over 100 pounds in less than a year by eating vegan food.
“When I changed my diet, I stopped putting dead things into my body and put that plant-based life into my body,” McLean said.
McLean developed his own brand as a chef while working in the music industry, serving his food to different celebrities like Tupac.
“Back in the day, I fed Tupac vegan spaghetti,” McLean said. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years.”
McLean has served other celebrities like Mary Mary, the gospel duo, and Ziggy Marley. McLean made his way to Memphis after meeting Vince “City” McMillan in Los Angeles.
“When the time came, he said, 'Guru, I got a situation. Talk to me. Memphis or LA?' I said 'Bro, that’s an easy one. We bring the grub to Memphis,'" McLean said.
McLean and McMillan found a venue on the Highland Strip and created a full-service menu of vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I felt like the South was important,” McLean said. “We’re fighting obesity, diabetes amongst our children. We’re also dealing with COVID and building up our immune systems. I said, 'Let’s go to Memphis and do this grub there and heal the world.'”
The menu includes vegan style soul food, pancakes, smoothies and juices.
With its location so close to the University of Memphis campus, students can walk or drive to the restaurant. There are limited vegan and vegetarian options on campus, so students will now have an easier time finding the meals they enjoy.
“It’s like hard to find stuff. There’s Chick-fil-A in the UC. They have salads and stuff, but I don’t want eat a salad every time I go to the UC,” said UofM junior Desmond Taylor.
Taylor became a vegetarian because he wanted to improve his eating habits. Other students, like senior Miles Wright, are vegan because of food allergies.
“When I turned 13, I had gotten a blood test done, and found out that I was allergic to every type of meat except deer meat,” he said.
Until its opening next month, Guru’s City Vegan hosts pop up events at Grind City Brewery in Downtown Memphis with sample dishes from their menu. Times and dates can be found on their Instagram @gurucityvegan901.
Co-founders Vince “City” McMillan, Daudi “Da Vegan Guru” McLean and director of operations De’Ja Monae pictured at their pop-up event at Grind City Brewery Oct. 23. The pop-up featured vegan soul food like fried chicken and seafood plates.
Vegan catfish, shrimp, mac ‘n cheese and Grandma’s greens were featured at the pop-up.
Photo: Eva Winfrey
Senior Miles Wright has never had vegan soul food before. “That sounds delicious. I will definitely check it out.”
Junior Desmond Taylor made the decision to become a vegetarian for health reasons. “I was eating too much of unhealthy things to begin with. So, I said, ‘you know what? I’m gonna practice some self-control and I’m gonna go vegetarian.”