Reporter- Business First
I am not a fan of jerky.
After I eat it, I can almost feel it lining my arterial walls. I sometimes feel the same way with bacon, but c’mon, who can resist bacon?
But I can definitely resist jerky.
So when Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. owner Stanley Chase offered me a fresh piece of his dried bourbon-smoked spicy chipotle vegan jerky, I warned him about my reservations.
The jerky, made from textured soy protein and spices, was chewy like regular jerky, and the chipotle gave it a nice kick.
But after I ate some, I didn’t feel like it would come back to bite me in 20 years.
Admittedly, one of my co-workers who tried the jerky was put off by the texture. We also contemplated hiding the samples from another coworker who quickly developed an affection bordering on addiction.
Chase began making vegan jerky about three years ago as a complement to his regular business.
Under the name of Morels the Vegan Butcher, he provides packaged vegan wraps to Heine Brothers’ Coffee shops and Rainbow Blossom locations. He said he was selling more than 1,200 sandwich wraps per month.
But with few companies making vegan jerky, the side business ended up taking off, and Chase put a wrap on the wraps to focus solely on Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
“When I get an idea in my head, I just can’t stop,” he said.
Getting people to try the product is a constant challenge, Chase said, but many who take the plunge are pleasantly surprised.
“There is always a shock factor when you see ‘vegan’ next to ‘jerky,’ ” he said. “You just have to try it.”
One way to encourage people to try it is to provide free samples. The company can sell itself, but Chase wants regular people to spread the word and vouch for the product.
Caitlin Bowling covers these beats: Restaurants, retail, human resources, and women minority affairs.