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INNOVATORS Q&A

Giving back, one vegan plate at a time

SoCo Vedge, located in Narragansett, was founded by husband-and-wife duo Dean and Julie Couchey to offer vegan meals to Rhode Islanders.

Dean Couchey, co-owner of SoCo Vedge, a vegan meal delivery service, prepared a chickpea shawarma meal in the kitchen of The Tavern in Narragansett.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Shortly after moving back to Rhode Island from Philadelphia in January 2021, husband-and-wife duo Dean and Julie Couchey found little in terms of job opportunities due to the ongoing pandemic. But other than a few major names in vegan cuisine, which are largely based in the greater Providence area, the two realized that the southern half of Rhode Island needed a vegan boost and wanted to be the ones to fill the void.

They started SoCo Vedge, short for South County, a plant-based meal delivery service that provides a new menu each week of internationally inspired meals, which are all fully cooked and cooled by classically trained chef Dean Couchey and are ready to be reheated and eaten.

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Weekly menus are released each Saturday by e-mail, their Instagram, and Facebook page; orders must be placed by Tuesdays at 8 p.m.; and all of their meals are available for contactless, curbside pickup or delivery.

Husband-and-wife team Julie and Dean Couchey are the co-owners of SoCo Vedge, a vegan meal delivery service.Matthew Healey for The Boston Gl

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when creating your menus?

Dean Couchey: Most of our inspiration comes from our travels. Together, we have visited 44 countries. We also love to hear from our customers as to what kinds of food they are craving, and we think about what we had last week so we prevent cooking the same flavor profile. We aim to include a more “homestyle”-type dish each week as well so that helps determine what their other dishes are.

Q: What’s an example of one of your favorite weekly menus or dishes so far?

Dean Couchey: We love to feature favorites that people are familiar with, like lasagna (SoCo recently featured a white spinach lasagna with house-made sunflower ricotta, “mozzarella,” spinach, and white sauce, served with a white bean and tomato ragout) or curry, but our real favorites are dishes that people may not have tried before.

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We’ve introduced our customers to dishes we had while traveling, like khao soi from Northern Thailand (a fragrant, coconut milk-based stew with crunchy fried noodles and vegetables), amok (theirs was a traditional, Cambodian curry with notes of fresh herbs, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and coconut served with steamed rice and a spring roll), okonomiyaki from Japan (SoCo’s was a savory vegan pancake with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and corn served with okonomiyaki sauce and togarashi roasted potatoes), schnitzel and spaetzle from Germany (their version included a crispy tofu cutlet served with spaetzle, lemon parsley sauce, and braised red cabbage).

Each menu features cuisine from a particular country or region.

Julie Couchey, left, and Dean Couchey.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Q: Giving back is part of SoCo Vedge’s mission. How are you a social impact brand?

Julie Couchey: We have held several fund-raisers where we will donate our time and ingredients. Each week, we also offer “add-ons” on the menu, where we will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to an organization, and then match whatever we raised. For example, we did an add-on of a rainbow cake for Pride month, where our customers purchased a slice and all proceeds went to Youth Pride RI. We have also donated to South County Health’s Cancer Center, Animal Rescue Rhode Island, and most recently sent a donation to United Help Ukraine. We have also partnered up with Plates with Purpose to help fight insecurity in Rhode Island.

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Q: Where are you sourcing your ingredients from?

Dean Couchey: We source some ingredients online for the more exotic dishes and do support our local South Coast Organics and Bulk Foods store. When possible, we love to source from local farms as supporting local farms is extremely important to us.

Julie Couchey prepared chickpea shawarma meals in the kitchen of The Tavern in Narragansett.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Spring pesto gnocchi meals are lined up by SoCo Vedge.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Q: Other meal-service programs will load their food up with preservatives or just simply won’t feature a lot of fresh produce. How do you overcome freshness challenges?

Dean Couchey: Because we are a local company — and are cooking our dishes right in our customers’ backyard — there are only a few days between the time we source our ingredients, cook, package, and deliver. We also choose the ingredients for our menus based off what will hold best in our customers’ fridges and what is in season.

Q: Is SoCo Vedge only for vegans?

Julie Couchey: Our aim is to make dishes that everyone will enjoy, even if someone does not identify as vegan or vegetarian. Our service provides unique flavors and a more convenient lifestyle while also a more sustainable eating opportunity.


The Boston Globe’s weekly Ocean State Innovators column features a Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting groundbreaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy. Send tips and suggestions to reporter Alexa Gagosz at alexa.gagosz@globe.com.

Chickpea shawarma by SoCo Vedge.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.