From a recently acquired food trailer, Gina Overshiner serves what she says is “vegan comfort food like your mom would make if she was really cool and knew what vegan food is.”
Based in Columbia, Missouri, Gina’s Vegan A Go Go aims to elevate plant-based cuisine. “I’m excited to bring more vegan food to Columbia and make it more approachable,” says Overshiner. “I think a lot of people think, ‘I can only eat salads or rice and beans.’ I’ll help show people that you can eat foods that are familiar to you, that taste really good; it doesn’t have to be tofu and bean sprouts all the time.”
If you’re in pursuit of plant-based bites, start with the Beetnik Burger at the mobile eatery. Made with puréed beets, sautéed onion, mushrooms, texturized veggie protein, wheat protein, garlic and spices, it’s a lunch and dinner staple, along with the “tuna” salad made with chickpeas, hearts of palm and seaweed, which adds quintessential umami flavor to the dish. Other must-tries include the barbecue seitan sandwich and the antipasto sandwich loaded with olive paste, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and fresh herbs.
Except for the bread, Overshiner makes everything from scratch. Certain dishes have already proved popular, but she never wants to stop tweaking the menu. “We’ll have our basic breakfast, lunch and dinner menus,” she says, “but I’d love to have a Mexican Monday and a sushi Sunday – a different kind of service for every day of the week. I have a lot of plans.”
Gina’s Vegan A Go Go will make frequent appearances at Cooper’s Landing for Sunday brunch, where customers can fill up on “chorizo” breakfast burritos, red potatoes and kale, “eggy” tofu seasoned with black salt and, soon, biscuits and gravy – vegan style, of course. The food trailer will also be a vendor at the 2021 Pedaler’s Jamboree in early September.
Gina’s Vegan A Go Go launched in July at a pop up outside Fretboard Coffee in Columbia, but the business had been on Overshiner’s bucket list for years. In early 2020, when Xola’s, a vegan food truck based in mid-Missouri, went up for sale, Overshiner jumped at the opportunity to buy it and turn her dream into a reality. “[The owner of Xola’s] was excited that the new concept was going to be vegan,” she says. “She was hoping that someone would continue that tradition.” With the closure of Xola’s, Gina’s Vegan A Go Go is now the only exclusively plant-based food truck in the area.
A vegan since 2015, Overshiner is a self-taught chef who’s learned from home cooking experience, online courses and industry friends who are more than willing to share tricks of the trade. She’s worked closely with Leigh Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze, in particular, to create consistency in her menus.
Overshiner, like Lockhart, knows how important it is to offer fast-casual vegan options to the mid-Missouri community. “I do things to try to help other people who are starting on this journey because I know it can be tough to be consistent in the beginning,” she says. “I’ve also come to realize how limiting it can be when you’re eating out – lots of times you’re like ‘OK, well, I guess I’ll have french fries again.’ There are a lot of places that don’t give vegans any other choice.”
In the days to come, Overshiner and Lockhart plan to host collaborative vegan events at Centro Latino de Salud, a community center in Columbia. At the center’s monthly fundraiser, they already make vegan tamales, which help raise money for its after-school programs. But the duo wants to do more, to create more. “We’re going to do fun and interesting things with vegan cooking,” says Overshiner. “We’ll show people that it’s not just the same thing all the time. You don’t have to eat animal products; you can be lighter on the environment and healthier with your body and still enjoy the things you eat.”
Keep up with Gina’s Vegan A Go Go on social media – if you’re like us, you’ll want to know where you can snag a delicious vegan snack at a moment’s notice.