By Terrance Porter
God Bless whoever gave this California transplant his first meatpie. I cherish the memories of gumbo from Bertha “Muh” Porter whenever I was in her house in Natchez, Louisiana with my family. It wasn’t until I was attending Louisiana State University in Shreveport back in 2010 that I fully appreciated boudin. Six years ago, I moved to Dallas, Texas for a change in scenery and job opportunities. If you counted all of the frozen meatpies from Natchitoches or bowls of gumbo from my Dad, Dempsy Porter, that I drove back to Dallas in my 97 Honda Civic, you would have never thought my love for Louisiana food would change.
Unfortunately, my beloved Louisiana food has animosity for my dietary changes. In 2016, in an effort to lose weight, I decided to stop eating meat for a year to see if it would change anything and to ultimately see if I could abstain from enjoying the taste of cooked animals. I became assimilated to Dallas restaurants by going to all of the ones that served Cajun food or were opened by people from Louisiana. During my Vegetarian Year, I started frequenting vegan restaurants. When I came home to Shreveport to visit my parents, there were a few places that offered delicious veggie burgers like Twisted Root and Walk-Ons. People still looked as shocked as I did when I learned that Burger King has veggie burgers. I look forward to trying their Impossible Whoppers when I’m on the road, but it doesn’t satisfy my appetite for food you can’t get anywhere else without having to cross state-lines on I-20. Chef Libby Smith of The Levee Restaurant at the time, now behind the menu of the Shreveport aquarium restaurant, SALT, was an ally on my side with her veggie gumbo. Ashley Everage, co-founder of Well+Fed Louisiana promised me, “100%, we make tons of vegan Southern dishes: gumbo, etouffee, grits; etc. We hope to see others jump on board.” I hope to see others in the 318 area offer healthier options as well gradually before Impossible Foods forces everyone. I spoke to Cynthia, a representative of the plant-based meat substitute company with an estimated value of $2 billion about the company’s future plans along with the Impossible Sausage found in Little Caesar’s supreme pizzas; “We’re still hard at work scaling our first product, the Impossible Burger, but we don’t plan on stopping there. We plan to release many more meat and dairy products from plants in the coming years. The Impossible Burger is only the beginning.” Readers, please believe me when I say that I do not want this new beginning to be the ending of traditional cooking. This is a plea to bring new styles to classics.