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Thriving on vegan donuts at Dough Joy in Ballard

When it comes to nutrition, our bodies need a few basics to keep us fueled. We require protein, carbs, fats and a handful of micronutrients in order to survive. But besides those fuel sources, our bodies need one additional item to really thrive: donuts. A great donut is often the difference between surviving and thriving.

Opened in May, Seattle vegans (or really just anyone who's a fan of good donuts) can now thrive with the help of Dough Joy. With a food truck in Ballard and a brick and mortar shop on the way in Capitol Hill, Dough Joy works with the motto, "We do donuts, differently."

The duo behind the Seattle vegan publication Outbound Herbivore Christopher Ballard and Sean Willis started Dough Joy at home during the pandemic using a deep fryer that could hold one donut at a time.

Dough Joy exclusively uses vegan ingredients in both the donuts and the drinks they serve, and the team makes the raised donuts in small batches daily since we all know the freshest donuts taste the best.

"We really try to put out a product that people know and love," Willis said. "It's nostalgic, but it's even better than what they remember."

Using zero animal products, dairy or eggs, Dough Joy produces incredible donuts in unforgettable flavors like the fan-favorite Sour Watermelon, Strawberry Milkshake and the classic Cinnysugs. Willis said his current favorite is the Banana French Toast.

Ballard, however, is waiting for the brick-and-mortar shop to open to try out the finished product at Dough Joy. Ballard has celiac and is allergic to gluten.

"I actually have never tasted our finished donuts since I can't eat them," he said, "but one of the parts about opening our new brick and mortar space is we're gonna be doing gluten-free donuts."

Until then, Ballard remains the resident icing taster. He still has a favorite Dough Joy creation, though — the stunning Over The Rainbow donut available year-round as a Pride celebration takes their classic raised donut and tops it with a secret Pride icing and rainbow glitter.

"We create flavor profiles that are unique that are not common, especially in Seattle," Willis said.

On certain lucky days, Dough Joy's menu features a Chik'n & Waffle Skewer with three extra-large donut holes on a skewer with two perfectly crispy vegan chicken nuggets, all drizzled with maple syrup.

"A lot of people, including myself, had this notion that vegan food was hippy food or it was just really bad, but we're not just sitting here eating kale every day," Willis said. "There's awesome vegan food that you can go get that tastes just as good, if not better, than the things you're used to. And to give people a fun and exciting option is really important to us, just to get people open to the idea of plant-based food because we believe that is the way the food industry is heading."

Following this notion, the cold brew lattes, peppermint mochas and caramel macchiatos at Dough Joy are also dairy-free and always will be.

Could we survive without donuts? Sure, we could manage. But to thrive, Dough Joy is here to feed us vegan donuts to the tune of Cookie Butta, Blueberry Lemon or Pear + Cardamom — undoubtedly this is thriving.

Find the Dough Joy food truck in Ballard at 5401 17th Avenue NW. The truck is open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday or Sunday. Be sure to get there early for the best selection because Dough Joy typically sells out. Check their website to keep up to date on the future Capitol Hill shop.