When Demetrius Walker launched Meek Vegan Pizza (MVP) in Third Ward in 2021, he never expected the overwhelmingly positive response from the people who weren’t vegan.

What started off as an idea to create healthier cruelty free options for his son was recognized by Shark Tank star Daymond John.

Daymond John

The celebrity business icon awarded MVP the NAACP Powershift Grant made possible by PepsiCo as part of his third annual Black Entrepreneurs Day [powered by Chase] at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater. In the wake of George Floyd’s death John curated the event as a way to educate, inspire, and provide financial support to Black entrepreneurs nationwide.

“Over the past few years, my personal health has become a priority and though I have seen benefits across the board, I know more than anything I am doing it for my family. So, when I heard Meek’s backstory, I was fully on board with his commitment to providing healthy food for his son and his community, said John. Historically, urban communities have less access to healthy foods and I think Meek’s desire to make Vegan accessible is really commendable.”

Walker also says the funds will help him realize a future goal of his which is to expand across the state of Texas and beyond. MVP pizza’s will be sold at a new location in Iconic Eatery and Ice Cream Bar located in Dallas and hopes to be in 300 locations in two years.

“Daymond John is somebody who I’ve idolized for a long time and his commitment to supporting businesses like mine,” Walker said. “This is certainly a huge relief for me because with inflation and the rise in costs of goods, the legal costs around launching a startup, and marketing have been challenging.”

Before launching MVP, Walker had no culinary background or business experience. With the help of the internet, books, the plant-based advocate was able to introduce customers to vegan food in one of the most popular food dishes in the country. He said he hopes to transform the community’s mindset around the kind of food choices contribute to diet-related disparities.

“The Third Ward is ground zero for Black culture in Houston and it’s a historically Black neighborhood with young innovation and energy, Walker said. “The vegan scene in Houston is a tight-knit community, and as a New York native, people are open and have good intentions and look out of each other, and that is another important factor we need for Black businesses to sustain collectively.”

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...