n the future that Raul Medina imagines, not only will America have a taco truck on every corner, but all of those trucks will also offer a full slate of vegan meats. Carnitas, carne asada, chicharrón—each taco a delicious miracle crafted out of tofu skins and dehydrated soy chips. And the supplier of these stellar faux meats? Naturally that would be Medina himself, whose vegan carnicería, Taqueria La Venganza, opened in Oakland earlier this year.
“I want to be the Impossible Foods—the Beyond Meat—of the Mexican meat world,” Medina says.
That’s a bold ambition for a chef whose entire operation, at the moment, is based inside a small downtown Oakland bodega. Just a couple of months in, La Venganza has already garnered a reputation for serving the best vegan tacos in town. But Medina has his sights set much higher: He doesn’t want to be known as just a taquero. He wants to be the guy up the supply chain who makes your favorite taquero want to offer a vegan option—who makes meats that are delicious enough, and profitable enough, that every taqueria in the country will want to use them.
In short, Medina wants his vegan carne asada—not Impossible’s or Beyond’s—to be the one that goes national. And in the process, he hopes to strike a blow for smaller, less corporatized and more Latinx-centric businesses. “I don’t want them to do ‘Beyond Asada’ or ‘Impossible Asada,’ and then suddenly we’re eating some other corporate shit.”
Ten or 20 years ago, vegans like Medina could scarcely have imagined a time when “plant-based meat” would be seen as the trendiest, most lucrative sector in food—the subject of dozens of breathless reviews and earnest thinkpieces. These days, you can buy an Impossible Burger at Burger King. You can find the patties in the freezer aisle of your local Walmart or Target.