FRESNO, Calif. -- Mike McElroy still enjoys watching his customers' jaws drop when they try his food.
"It's crazy to see their expression the first time they bite the burger," he says. "It's like they can't believe it. They can't believe it's not real meat."
McElroy's food truck, Planet Vegan Burgers, has been serving up plant-based food in the Central California city of Fresno.
That includes their signature gourmet burgers, often made with Impossible or Beyond Meat burgers.
But their hottest seller is the Galaxy Fries.
"It's a loaded fry," McElroy says. "Kind of comes off as an asada fry but it's 100% plant-based of course."
And his loyal customers swear by his dishes.
"I pulled over, tried it, and could not believe it. Absolutely blown away," says Tre Maxell.
Maxell says Planet Vegan's burgers are some of the best he's ever had in his life.
It's something that makes the transition to a vegan lifestyle easier for him.
"You know, before, you had no idea there were other options. So now that you know there are other options out there, and especially as good as this, then it's like - 'I can do this'," he says.
That's a sentiment another customer, Johnny Buentes, echoes. Buentes decided to start avoiding meat when his doctor warned him that his cholesterol was too high and his heart health could be in danger. He's been eating Planet Vegan's fare ever since.
"My youngest son, he goes, 'Oh no dad, not vegan!' I told him they're good!" he says. "And I feel a little better when I eat them. It's just something different."
McElroy started to consider a plant-based lifestyle when he realized he needed to carve out a healthier path for himself and his family.
Now three years into being completely vegan, he's almost evangelical in his enthusiasm for the lifestyle.
"After I tried it, I felt great. Words can't express how I felt... It's a different lifestyle, for sure, mentally and physically. You have to try it yourself," he says. "My biggest thing I like is how it's changed the people around me. My Pops and some of my other family members, they've started incorporating vegan food into their diets, and they're starting to see a lot of improvements."
And it's not just his own family that he's inspired - it's also many others around him, including his friends, his team at the food truck, and even people who meet him at the gym.
"They know I'm, I guess, 'Mr. Planet Vegan', you could say. I tell them to come pull up.... (Planet Vegan's dishes are) more like a prize. After eating clean all week, just come treat yourself one time."
This Localish story is based on reporting by Dale Yurong.
This vegan food truck is bringing change to a California community
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