Mollie Engelhart, the Vegan Chef: "I'm Going Back to Serving Meat, Here's Why"

Alessandra Meldolesi
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Only fools never change their minds. Mollie Engelhart, chef at a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles with two spin-offs in California, announces a shift to regenerative agriculture and the addition of select meat, dairy, and eggs to her menu. Facing criticism, she explains: "I'm doing this for the planet." However, many similar establishments have already closed.

The news 

No one saw it coming, especially in an industry not known for its flexibility. Mollie Engelhart, the chef at Sage Vegan Bistro in Los Angeles, announced in a video on the restaurant's Instagram account that her establishment is about to change its offerings and will start serving meat, dairy, and eggs. A complete turnaround, extensively covered by Business Insider.


Engelhart shared that she opened her restaurant in Echo Park in 2011 with the belief that vegan cuisine could help save the planet, but over the years, she's had a change of heart. The new restaurant will be named Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery and will support regenerative agriculture practices. "This means we're transitioning from a fully plant-based menu to high-quality proteins sourced exclusively from the best and strictest regenerative farms." These practices aim to fight climate change by restoring soil fertility and capturing CO2, though not all scientists agree on their effectiveness for this purpose.

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"We're thrilled to announce the evolution of Sage into Los Angeles' first regenerative restaurant, supporting regenerative and organic farms that lead the regenerative agriculture movement, bringing life back to the soil and healing the earth. Our menu will include regenerative proteins and grains from our new partners," the chef emphasized. "We will also feature new exciting plant-based dishes made with local organic ingredients." The shift is set to take place in June, with the old menu being phased out.

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Yet fortune had smiled upon the Bistro, which soon expanded to Culver City and Pasadena, helping to spread the vegan message among a growing crowd of new converts. "To some, this might seem shocking or even upsetting, but when I look back at the last seven years of my life, and now that I'm transitioning to regenerative agriculture to serve my guests the highest quality ingredients, I realize I've begun to learn so much about soil and nature," she continued. "I think regenerative agriculture is the next step, and for that to happen, it needs to enter the Zeitgeist and our daily conversations. This is my way of contributing, by offering people new options."

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The fierce reactions, which the chef said she had mentally prepared for, came quickly. The animal rights foundation PETA accused her of greenwashing and humane-washing, followed by attacks from vegan colleagues and influencers, who were nothing short of outraged. But Engelhart remains resolute: "I'm doing this for humanity and the earth." However, the suspicion lingers that her motivations are more financial in nature, given that the restaurant hasn't been profitable since 2020. "My restaurants have struggled to survive, like many others after the pandemic," she admitted. Indeed, quite a few similar establishments have already closed or changed their offerings in recent years.

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