What the heck is jackfruit, and why is it in my burrito?
Jackfruit, a vegan meat-alternative, has made its way onto the University of North Georgia’s Build Your Own Burrito (BYOB) menu this year. BYOB, like the jackfruit, is new to Gainesville.
The strangely shaped fruit grows in tropical and subtropical climates and is indigenous to South India. People can enjoy it both ripe or unripe, but the flavor and texture differ drastically. When eaten ripe, the jackfruit is true to its name; the spiky exterior gives way to a sweet, tropical-fruity flesh. Conversely, the unripe fruit lacks the sugary-sweetness and is instead savory in flavor. The texture of the fruit, when cooked, resembles shredded chicken or pork.
Selena Rosario, the president of Vegan Club TEAM EARTH, organized a jackfruit tasting table at the Early Earth Day Festival in the spring.
“We love it,” Rosario said. “It tastes like barbecue pulled pork, and it is a cheap and easy [meat] substitute.”
The savory samples were a success with students, prompting the members of the Vegan Club to approach Gainesville’s food service department.
“I wanted to offer a vegan alternative, and the jackfruit is an excellent choice,” said David Owen of UNG food service.
While members of the Vegan Club enjoy the fruit, some found it repulsive.
“If I am going to eat something that taste like meat, which it doesn’t, I’m just going to eat meat,” said Alexis Mosley, an UNG student. “This is just nasty.”
The members of the Vegan Club view the jackfruit offered at Gainesville’s BYOB as successful activism.
“Our mission is to educate others about the endless benefits of veganism while promoting more access to vegan options,” Rosario said.