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A Vegan Restaurant Is Switching to Serving Meat, Saying Plant-Based Eating Isn't Enough to Save the Planet Several formerly all-vegan restaurants in Los Angeles have shifted to incorporating meat in recent years, citing financial factors.

By Joshua Zitser

Key Takeaways

  • Sage Vegan Bistro in Los Angeles is transitioning to serve meat, dairy, and eggs.
  • The chef said she thought a vegan diet was best for the environment but had since changed her mind.
  • The restaurant is instead supporting regenerative farming practices — a move condemned by PETA.
DigitalVision/Getty Images via Business Insider
Sage Vegan Bistro in Los Angeles (not pictured) is rebranding to include non-vegan food on its menu.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

The chef of a Los Angeles vegan restaurant has announced that her restaurant is rebranding and transitioning to serving meat, dairy, and eggs.

The chef, Mollie Engelhart, said that she thought a vegan diet was best when she started Sage Vegan Bistro but that she'd now changed her mind.

Renamed the Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery, the restaurant is instead set to focus on supporting regenerative farming practices, as Engelhart said in an Instagram video.

"That means that we will be shifting from an all-plant-based menu to a high-quality protein from only the highest-quality, most-integrity regenerative farms," she said.

The restaurant, which opened in Echo Park in 2011 before launching branches in Culver City and Pasadena, has cultivated a legion of plant-loving customers.

But the Los Angeles Times reported that the revamped menu would soon feature ingredients such as beef, bison, fried eggs, and other non-vegan products, starting at the end of next month.

"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," Engelhart said in the Instagram post.

She told the LA Times, "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."

"This is my way to contribute to that, to give people options," she added.

Regenerative farming aims to address the climate crisis by restoring degraded soils and sequestering carbon, though opinions on its environmental impact vary.

A 2022 academic review by William H. Schlesinger, a former president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, found that practices associated with regenerative farming weren't likely to lead to a "large net sequestration of organic carbon in soils."

Schlesinger also noted that some practices even resulted in their own carbon-dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.

Engelhart told the LA Times that she was being "vulnerable" in announcing the move and that she had braced herself for the "vitriol" to come.

That pushback came quickly.

PETA, the animal-rights charity, accused the restaurant in an Instagram post of "serving greenwashed and humane-washed meat, dairy, and eggs" and described the shift as a betrayal to animals.

"On Earth Day, no less!" the post added.

Jayde Nicole, a vegan restaurateur, described the shift as "horrifying" in a comment on Instagram, while Hannah Weseloh, a vegan influencer, likened the announcement to "mourning a death."

Engelhart defended her choice and said she timed the announcement for Earth Day because "we're doing this shift for humanity and the earth."

She also told the LA Times that financial considerations influenced her decision, with the newspaper reporting that the restaurants had not been profitable since 2020.

"My restaurants have been really struggling, like so many restaurants post-pandemic," Engelhart said.

The LA Times reported that several formerly all-vegan restaurants in LA had shifted to incorporating meat in recent years, citing financial factors, with many others closing their doors entirely.

Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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