Then, the pandemic hit, limiting clients in need of a graphic designer, and as the story usually goes, one thing led to another. Derick Gaspard is now the full-time Head Chef and Owner of JuJu’s Vegan Cajun and Creole Cuisine.
When the New Orleans native moved to Lincoln, NE, Derick wanted to bring authentic Cajun and Creole food to the city (which it was previously sorely lacking) – with a vegan twist.
Being introduced to new ingredients through his job at Whole Foods, Derick began experimenting, mocking textures and flavors of traditional meat, and creating vegan Creole and Cajun food.
“Once I got into that [vegan] lifestyle, I started realizing all the other fights that went along with it – sustainability, animal cruelty – it has so many positive fights that go along with it. I turned out to a win-win on so many different levels,” shares Derick.
“Right now, it’s important to take a clear stand on certain issues, and I wanted to make a statement with who I choose, and I choose them.”
Preorder in Support of Black Leaders Movement
Two collaborative designs showcasing JuJu’s Vegan Cajun and Creole Cuisine and Black Leaders Movement – Lincoln.
In choosing good fights to support, Derick recalls the Dick Gregory quote, ‘Because I’m a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist.’
As a civil rights activist, Derick has partnered with Black Leaders Movement – Lincoln (BLM LNK) to raise awareness and funds through custom apparel.
Intentionally making a play on “BLM” to break down the stereotypes associated with the name, BLM LNK promotes young Black leaders’ development to achieve equality and justice for the Black community.
“Right now, it’s important to take a clear stand on certain issues, and I wanted to make a statement with who I choose, and I choose them,” states Derick.
The Cycling Journey
Derick’s cycling journey follows a similar path as his restaurant: one thing led to another. He started on a Walmart bike, hitting 15 miles and then 17 and then 20, and had a good friend who was a cyclist.
“For me, to see my friend, someone who looks like me (i.e. a person of color) on a bike, it just kind of down some stereotypes. I’ve always enjoyed cycling – the thought of freedom and being able to travel somewhere under your own power,” explains Derick.
Connecting further with the cycling community, Derick found a Facebook group, The Black Cyclist. Between learning from fellow cyclists in the group and needing a socially-distanced activity, Derick quickly began cycling more seriously.
“I’m 35 now, the high impact on the joints takes a toll, and right now, I’m just all about sustainability and longevity. Not only does cycling provide freedom and endurance, but also longevity, and that’s what I’m focused that on in life.”
Focused on serving food and economically supporting under-resourced areas, follow along to see what Derick accomplishes next.