Birmingham has long been a food-lover’s town, but vegan options haven’t always been easily accessible in our city. Fortunately for current residents of the Magic City, this has changed a good bit over the last few years as existing restaurants add new meatless menu items and entire restaurants devoted to the vegan lifestyle emerge. This new era of great eating may be best personified by Koko Nunn and her mom Angela, who are the masterminds behind Birmingham’s favorite vegan food truck Not Ya Average Leaf. The Nunn’s like to boast that their truck is “where vegan ain’t boring” and the mouth-watering menu makes us agree.
Koko hasn’t been vegan for very long herself, but quickly became an avid believer in the lifestyle after health emergencies resulted in a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona in 2019. A switch to a meatless diet during a hospital stay after the trip to Arizona helped Nunn’s body combat the Crohn’s disease that was impacting her livelihood. Koko had recently graduated from UAB and thought she would find a career in Information Systems but her career path took an unusual turn once she started showcasing her new vegan diet online.
“I just started cooking from home and making videos on Instagram,” Nunn explains. These videos quickly found their way to a lot of hungry Alabamians, who asked Koko to make them a plate. As word continued to spread, Koko started getting the attention of restaurants in the area. She made the decision to work for the currently-closed Tropicaleo in November of 2020, and started doing a very popular vegan pop-up series at the Puerto Rican eatery on Tuesdays. Nunn next began pop-ups at Club M “and once that blew up, I funded myself for a food truck and that’s where I am now.”
The Nunns found their perfect food truck in October 2021, with the help of Antoinne Davis of Encore Rouge along with lots of self-education and “YouTube University” as Koko jokingly called her learning process. The rolling version of Not Ya Average Leaf has been an immediate hit, and the food-making family can be found traversing the city attending weekly food truck meetups along with routine appearances at Ghost Train and other Birmingham venues. You can follow their social media accounts or visit their new website to keep up with upcoming locations.
While the entire menu is delicious, Nunn says the Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls are the “most famous menu item on the menu. Everybody loves the egg rolls, literally. We roll so many egg rolls per day, it’s not even funny anymore.” Nunn’s personal favorite is the Vegan Burger, and she’s also excited about their latest menu addition - Vegan Buffalo Shrimp Egg Rolls. Dessert options like Peach Cobbler Egg Rolls are just as tantalizing, but any menu item you pick is the correct choice. The goal of the truck is to show people that “vegan food is not just lettuce, leaves, and carrots” and options like the meals listed above make it clear that Not Ya Average Leaf is a place for all people who love good food - whether they are fully dedicated vegans, meat lovers, or somewhere in between.
“I’m genuinely thankful for all of my supporters because I really did not imagine that I would really be here with a food truck,” Nunn shares, saying that word-of-mouth recommendations on her egg rolls and other items have had more of a positive impact on the restaurant than any paid advertising she’s done. Koko is still in awe that a personal diet change she made to benefit her own health has turned into a successful business, but the Magic City couldn’t be more thankful that this talented chef chose to share her wonderful creations with the world.
Cover photo taken by Shad Shot It