BREVARD -- A little over three years ago, Indian Harbor Beach resident Keenun Barley started a small, private Facebook group for a few friends who wanted to share plant-based recipes, post pictures of restaurant meals or ask questions about plant-based eating.
As that group’s membership grew to more than 600 members, with another 50 on the waiting list as of Sept. 6, its popularity prompted Ms. Barley to create a website and public Facebook page geared toward similar topics.
The website, www.plantbasedbrevard.com, launched Sept. 4 while its companion Facebook page, Plant-Based Brevard, became available earlier this year.
The driving force behind the website is to offer a database of restaurants in Brevard County that lists each restaurant’s vegan menu items. The website also includes an event calendar and a blog that features restaurant reviews and profiles of local vegan residents.
To go along with the restaurant theme, Plant-Based Brevard’s Facebook page highlights eateries and stores that are offering plant-based items, restaurant specials and events.
“Everybody kept asking the same questions [about restaurants],” Ms. Barley said of the original group’s members.
“Eventually it became evident that we needed to create a shareable database for anyone in the area who needed or wanted all the info that we share in our group, so here we are!” Plant-Based Brevard’s website adds. “We are all very excited to offer these resources to the residents of our county and all who visit.”
Like the original Facebook group, Plant-Based Brevard’s new website and Facebook page are targeted not only toward people who already eat vegan diets, but also omnivores who want to try more meatless dishes or find meals they can enjoy with a vegan family member.
The open format is meant to be welcoming and focused on food only – not nutrition, animal rights or related issues that sometimes come up in vegan food groups and can lead to criticism of a person’s choice to eat vegan only some of the time, or to eat vegan food that could be considered junk food, Ms. Barley explained.
The website currently features more than 25 full listings and about 30 listings that have been partially completed.
As there are at least 100 more to add, the group is looking for volunteers who can help call restaurants to collect information on their menus, Ms. Barley said.
Any restaurant that has vegan menu options can be included in the database.
“I really wanted to show people that there are lots of options right here in Brevard County,” said Ms. Barley, who moved to the Space Coast from Orlando four years ago. “I can eat anywhere here and I’m not just talking about salads and veggie burgers.”
“Things are changing here in such a big way and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it,” Ms. Barley added.
In providing information about local restaurants to residents and visitors, Plant-Based Brevard has also helped restaurants expand their customer base, Ms. Barley noted.
After recently volunteering to serve as a taste tester for a new vegan cheese pizza at NY Pizza Spot & Italian Kitchen in West Melbourne, for example, Ms. Barley made a post about the experience on Facebook and it helped the restaurant swiftly sell numerous vegan pizzas.
For more information, visit
www.plantbasedbrevard.com or find Plant-Based Brevard on Facebook.