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Popular Los Angeles vegan restaurant to add meat, dairy to dishes: ‘I’ve changed my mind’ on vegan diet

A popular Los Angeles vegan restaurant recently announced it plans to add meat to its menu. 

Sage Plant Based Bistro will become Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery and will add animal products, including beef, bison, cheese and eggs, to its menu starting on May 29.

Owner Mollie Engelhart announced the move in an Earth Day Instagram message, explaining the focus of the restaurant would shift to focus on regenerative agriculture, which is an approach to farming that prioritizes soil health, biodiversity and natural processes, according to the Regenerative Farmers of America. 

“To some, this may seem shocking or upsetting, but if you look at the last seven years of my life and as I moved into regenerative farming to serve the highest quality food to my customers, I started to learn so much about soil and nature and I realized that when I started Sage Plant Based Bistro, I thought a vegan diet was what was best,” she said. “After 7 years of regenerative farming … I’ve changed my mind.”

“I want to create a restaurant that honors these small farms, these regenerative farmers that are trying to do the right thing when our whole food system is being completely centralized into factory farming and monoculture vegetables,” she continued. 

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Bowl of vegetables from the garden

Engelhart faced backlash on social media following the announcement on Instagram. The post has garnered almost 4,500 comments with many users expressing disappointment or disgust at the decision. 

“I understand their passion and I understand their sadness and I understand their anger,” Engelhart told the Los Angeles Times. “I had the same views of the world that they did before I shifted my ideas based on my experience in farming, and I have compassion for what they’re feeling. I hope that the vegan community and the regenerative community can really come together because I think they’re both powerful, powerful pathways for change.

“It’s vulnerable to publicly say, ‘I believed one thing, and maybe I was wrong, and now I believe something else,’ but I hope that it inspires people in their own lives to be willing to be open-minded when something else makes more sense to you,” she added. 

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Engelhart told the outlet that she contemplated the decision for 18 months because she knew she would face “vitriol” for doing so. She also said her restaurants have struggled post-pandemic. In the past, the restaurants would bring in $7 million annually, but since 2020 they haven’t been profitable. 

woman shopping for produce

A young woman carries a shopping basket filled with fresh produce.  (iStock / iStock)

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Other restaurants in the city, including Hot Tongue and Burgerlords, have made similar decisions based on financial viability, the L.A. Times reported. But, Engelhart said her decision goes beyond finances as she said it is a way to support ecologically sustainable practices through regenerative farming. 

“I’m not just saying I’m adding meat to the menu to try to get more customers,” Engelhart said. “I’m saying that I think the most important pathway forward for sequestering carbon is bovine on grass, and in order for us to have that at scale, we need people to support it.”

Engelhart told The Times that people are eating meat “everywhere” she looks. 

cows

Engelhart said she wants to support ecologically sustainable practices through regenerative farming.  (iStock / iStock)

“If you want to eat meat … where can you go get high-quality meat that was raised in a way that is reversing climate change rather than causing climate change?” she asked. “It’s a numbers game. … I think that the next step forward is regenerative agriculture, and for that to move forward it needs to be in the zeitgeist, it needs to be in our everyday conversations. And this is my way to contribute to that, to give people options.”

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Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 


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