Vegan restaurant owners not vegan
There has been quite a bit of upset in vegan circles this week about the founders and majority owners of Southern California vegan restaurants Gracias Madre and Café Gratitude selling beef products (i.e. dead cows) from their family farm.
I reached out to the PR firm for Café Gratitude to find out a little more information about the situation. One of my main concerns was whether the plant-based menus were ever going to start serving meat.
Here is their response:
“We want to assure all of our supporters that Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre have always served and will continue to serve 100% organic, plant-based cuisine prepared with ingredients sourced responsibly from vendors and farmers who share our commitment to preserving the integrity of the environment.
Founders Matthew and Terces Engelhart do not personally follow a vegan diet. They reside on their privately-owned Be Love Farm in Vacaville, California where they practice regenerative agriculture, and harvest organic produce for personal consumption for friends, family and neighbors in the area.
Given the growth of the restaurants in Southern California, the majority of produce served at Café Gratitude and Gracias Madre is supplied by local farms with the exception of organic peaches in the summer, and organic butternut squash in the fall and winter months, which are both sourced from Be Love Farms.
To learn more about regenerative agriculture practices visit www.belovefarm.com and regenerationinternational.org.”
Apart from the horrible irony of animals being killed on a farm called Be Love, do you see a problem with eating at one of these restaurants? Is it effective to put financial pressure on the restaurant chain because the co-founders raise cows for food on their own farm or is this also putting unnecessary pressure on other co-owners who are are vegan or risking the jobs of vegan workers.
I eat at many vegan restaurants and from many vegan food companies where the owners or CEOs are not vegan. I could name half a dozen or so just off the top of my head. The CEO of Veggie Grill is not vegan. The owner of VegBar in Brixton is not vegan. Not everyone in a management position at Fry’s Family Foods is vegan. Some of the biggest vegan food brands on the planet are making profit for non-vegan investors who spend said profits on animal product consumption.
And what about our 100% vegan businesses with vegan owners? Should we be demanding that they do not buy produce from farms that also raise and kill animals for food?
This post is certainly not an attempt to tell people how to react to the Café Gratitude situation, but to create thought and debate. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Should these restaurants stand alone and be celebrated for their plant-based menus or should vegans be demanding the founders and co-owners change their other business practises by applying financial pressure via a boycott?