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Tallahassee Restaurant No. 3 in U.S. for Vegan Mac 'N Cheese

Soul Veg lunch plate
Jessica Palombo

A Tallahassee soul food restaurant has some of the best macaroni and cheese in North America…if you’re looking for a dairy-free recipe. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has ranked the Soul Vegetarian restaurant No. 3 in the U.S. for vegan mac ‘n cheese, which it’s been serving in Tallahassee for almost 16 years.

When Soul Vegetarian got the telephone call from PETA about its award, customers celebrated. Prahkeet Ahmahtsiyah, whose family runs the restaurant, answered the phone.

“I announced it in the dining room. Everybody was clapping and cheering," she says. "They’re sending us a certificate that we’ll get to hang on our wall, so that’ll be nice.”

The mac ‘n cheese designation is the first award for the Adams Street eatery, which regulars simply refer to as "Soul Veg." It’s an appropriate honor, considering the owners have a special name for children whose mothers were eating here before they were born. Prahkeet’s mother, Daniella, calls them "macaroni and cheese babies."

“And when the baby is born, the baby comes wanting macaroni and cheese. And as the baby grows up, the baby must have macaroni and cheese," she says with a laugh.

The restaurant serves food and ice cream that’s free of animal products, or vegan. And while its percentage of vegan and vegetarian customers has risen in the past few years, the owners say at least 80 percent of their clientele don’t follow a special diet.

“As people are now really getting in tune with health, we’re seeing more and more, just, regular people coming and eating and finding that they love the food," she says.

One of the regulars here at Soul Veg is Simone English. Her favorites are the pizza, quiche, and of course, the mac ‘n cheese.

“The people are great. They’re like family. After the first day, they know you by name and they look out for you, so, I like that," she says.

The family who manages Soul Veg belongs to the African Hebrew Israelite community, which owns other Soul Veg locations in Houston, Atlanta, Israel and Ghana.

Daniella says, their culture is based on a blend of Old Testament teachings and African customs. Veganism is part of their lifestyle. And because they want everyone to eat healthily, she says, she’s happy to share the now award-winning mac ‘n cheese recipe with anyone who asks.

“We started our restaurant for people to still be able to eat healthy and still eat food that tastes good," she says.

Soul Veg’s high ranking on PETA’s mac ‘n cheese list was joined by another Florida restaurant. Fort Lauderdale’s Sublime took the top spot on the list, beating out about 60 contenders in the U.S. and Canada.