Smile Politely

An interview with the Savvy Vegan Doll Lamiea Wilson

With the news of Dancing Dog’s permanent closure and the uncertain future of the Red Herring, vegans have fewer options than ever in C-U.

Thankfully, a cottage business owned by Champaign-based vegan, Lamiea Wilson, has been gaining more attention for her vegan takes on American favorites. The Savvy Vegan Doll has been making vegan food for friends and family since 2019. After starting her LLC in 2022, she has been steadily picking up traction on social media and by word of mouth.

The photo shows head and shoulders of an Black business owner Lamiea Wilson wearing a bright pink shirt and long, straight black hair brushed off to the left. Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

Smile Politely: Could you introduce yourself to the readers of Smile Politely?

Lamiea Wilson: My name is Lamiea Wilson. I’m the owner of The Savvy Vegan Doll, LLC. I call myself the Savvy Vegan Doll. To me, savvy means using practical judgment to make food that tastes good and looks good — while being vegan. The Savvy Vegan Doll is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone can order on my Facebook business page, or by calling me 217-574-4404.

SP: What is it like to operate Savvy Vegan Doll?

Wilson: Running my business is fun. It keeps me on my toes. I do everything on my own: menu design, cooking, and delivery. People have been starting to notice how good my food looks and often ask if it’s really vegan. My mom and dad are not vegan, but they enjoy the food. They always come by to check out what I’m cooking. My family supports me and will occasionally help out if I have an event. That makes me feel good.

SP: What is your menu like?

Wilson: I go off of what people like. My loaded vegan fries are very popular. I do also like to switch it up to keep it interesting in the kitchen. I have jackfruit fries, tacos, sandwiches, savvy slaw dogs, breads, and desserts. Lots of mushroom stuff. Mostly common foods that I have made vegan.

Two styrofoam take-out containers very full of french fries with toppings including vegan cheese, vegan meat, green onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and spices. Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

SP: Can you talk about your background? Why did you decide to start a business? How long have you lived in C-U?

Wilson: I wasn’t always vegan. In July 2017, I wanted a change in my eating habits, so I began to research, and I found it more sustainable and healthier. Since I already knew how to cook, I just made traditional meals and veganized them. I was born and raised in Champaign Urbana, so I’ve been here all my life. I figured why not bring some savvy to the community — just in the vegan way.

SP: Your social media has a distinct vibe. Can you tell me a little about your personal philosophy?

Wilson: I like to keep my social media positive with good vibes. I love to make people feel welcome and to see and spread positivity is the way to do it.

Fourteen strawberry muffins pictured in two foil disposable lasagna pans. Muffins are iced and topped with fresh strawberries. Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

SP: What is in store for Savvy Vegan Dolls’ future?

Wilson: I hope to continue to grow my business. I have lots of events and pop-ups scheduled. My future plan is to open a café, but until then, I’m okay with how things are going. Good things take time. I want to do everything the right way. Menu-wise, I have been experimenting with a bean burger, but it’s been a trial to make something that isn’t too mushy. I am also thinking about adding a poboy out of mushrooms.

A closely cropped image of two barbcue jackfruit sandwich meals and a strawberry cream packaged cookie in the middle. The photo is slightly out of focus. Pickles, slaw, and BBQ Jackfruit piled on hamburger-style buns are shown open-faced on aluminum foil sheets. In the background are french fries in two styrofoam take-out containers. Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

Photo by Lamiea Wilson.

SP: When you are not cooking, do you have a favorite restaurant or two in town that you like to visit?

Wilson: When I’m not cooking, I love spending time with my granddaughter, Amiyah, and writing poetry, lots of poetry. I mostly cook at home, but I like Neil Street Blues. They have a small vegan menu, and I get the poboy sandwich with fries!

Savvy Vegan Doll

Top image by Lamiea Wilson.

More Articles