ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. March 15, 2012 — Food trucks continue to feed the public’s appetite for dining adventure in an easy, approachable way. As the only vegan food truck in Orange County, Seabirds is uniquely planet and animal friendly. Owner “Mama Bird” Stephanie Morgan believes in a healthy and sustainable life style and she’s found selling vegetable-based dishes a challenge in the world of BBQ, sliders and burgers. Despite this, her veggie niche wins hearts and mouths all over OC. “I love introducing people to a new way of eating. It makes my day when people say they thought they hated veggies but love our food!”
Born and raised in Laguna Hills, Calif., Morgan, 27, graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in cultural anthropology and later moved to New York City to become a broker’s assistant.
Morgan became a vegan out of curiosity, educating herself on the topic. Originally she wanted to understand the unpronounceable ingredients on food labels, but after reading eight books on food, food politics and nutrition, she realized a change was called for.
“I had no intention of going vegan, but the things I read both shocked me and upset me enough that I couldn’t think about meat or cheese or eggs the same way. It was difficult at first to change my diet and learn the ropes — find the best brands and restaurants — but I love a good challenge and embraced it fully. I started eating only fruits and veggies and whole grains and saw a huge improvement in my health and energy. I fell in love with this new conscious way of eating and never looked back,” she says.
Becoming a vegan wasn’t too difficult a transition, “I grew up with meat, but when I lived away I pretty much lived off veggie burritos and pasta.”
After returning to Orange County from New York, Morgan looked around for places to eat and came up short. “I really just wanted another vegan option so badly that I had to create it! I initially wanted to open a restaurant but decided a food truck was a better way to test the market, gain some knowledge, and try out my recipes before I made a huge investment.”
Seabirds has been on television a couple of times already, in “The Great Food Truck Race” and on “Ellen.” “We really wanted to get on the “Ellen Show” because we are huge fans and love that she and Portia (Ellen’s wife Portia di Rossi) are vegan,” says Morgan. After a silly video posted on YouTube and several phone calls, Seabirds was invited to serve the audience in honor of Ellen’s 1400th show. “We were extremely excited and went to the studios. We served everyone and had a lot of fun.”
Recently, Morgan completed her first e-cookbook, “The Seabirds Vegan Revolution,” available on her website. Like many other food truck proprietors, she plans to open her own restaurant some day. “I think Orange County needs many more vegan restaurants and I’d love to be one of them.”
Seabirds Q & A:
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME?
It came to me in a dream.
HOW DO YOU MARKET TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, vegetarian sites, and driving a big billboard around town.
DO CUSTOMERS COMMENT ON YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE FOOD NETWORK’S GREAT FOOD TRUCK RACE? WAS IT A GOOD THING FOR YOUR BUSINESS, NOW THAT SOME TIME HAS PASSED?
The show was amazing for business; we got really lucky being picked! We have a lot of people comment on the show and love the part where we had to go to the sausage factory.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT THE TRUCK VS A RESTAURANT? THE WORST THING?
The best thing about having a truck is being able to reach people all over town and being a part of lots of cool events. The worst things are the breakdowns and the limitations of a tiny kitchen.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU? WHEN CAN YOU TAKE A DAY OFF? HOW MANY HOURS DO YOU WORK A DAY?
I don’t have a typical day really. Some days I wake up early and race around town all day. Other days I pick up produce at the farm, do a lot of prep work, and then answer emails. And some days I sleep in and let the “birds” take care of everything. I usually try to take Sundays off.
WHERE DO YOU PARK TO PREP OR OVERNIGHT?
Lots of people think I park the truck in my driveway but I don’t. All food trucks in Orange County have to park at a commissary. It’s basically our home base where we park, prep, fill up with water, empty our trash and grey water, plug in, and get propane.
WHAT KINDS OF GREEN PRACTICES HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED?
Most basically, serving a plant-based menu that is green.* We also source as local as possible — from a neighboring farm, (Tanaka Farms, Irvine; Orange County Produce, Irvine). Additionally, all of our packaging and utensils are eco friendly.
DO YOU MISS ANYTHING AS A VEGAN?
The only thing I really miss is a New York style cheese pizza. But there are some great pizza joints in NY that make an awesome vegan pizza that does the trick.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT IN THE OC?
Right now my favorite is Freesoul Café in Tustin. They have amazing soups and salads.
*Choosing to eat plants instead of animals is beneficial to the planet because it helps to keep our water and air clean. If you think about it simply, when you eat meat, you are getting energy from an animal who got its energy from a plant. It’s like second hand energy. Say a cow eats 10 ears of corn and that makes one ounce of muscle or meat. It makes much more sense to feed 10 people with 10 ears of corn rather than one person with one ounce of meat. Plus, an animal doesn’t have to be slaughtered. These are the things that vegans and vegetarians think about, so I never understood why others give us such a hard time for the way we eat. I always think they should be thanking us.
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