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Vegan Numbers Growing In Las Vegas

vegan_ferraros.jpg

Christopher Smith

Vegan ravioli — roasted carrot and almond ricotta ravioli, pickled beets, mustard broth reduction — at Ferraro's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

To hear some tell it, Las Vegas is becoming more like Los Angeles every day.

For some animals, that’ll come as great news because it might be part of the reason you see more vegan restaurants or vegan offerings in traditional restaurants.

Though a precise number isn’t available, one story often cited says Vegan restaurants have increased five-fold in recent years.

Why are people turning Vegan or vegetarian?

National surveys say health, animal protection and environmental concerns are some of the top reasons people switch to veganism.

Diana Edelman is helping with that switch. She runs the website vegansbaby.com. The site features places to find vegan meals in Las Vegas and other cities. 

Edelman said the restaurants on her site must have at least three vegan meals that are not salads or sides. 

She is seeing a shift on the food scene in Las Vegas as more total vegan restaurants pop up and more restaurants offer more robust vegan options.

"It is a huge shift right now," she said, "You've got Burger King. You've got White Castle. You've got Del Taco. You've got tons of restaurants here that are introducing Impossible Burgers, Beyond Burgers, they're making their own in-house... It's definitely something that's happening and I think it's happening rather quickly now." 

Support comes from

One of the operations that is making its own meat substitute is deli and vegan restaurant No Butcher. Sebastian Mueller is the co-owner. Mueller told KNPR's State of Nevada that he became vegan about five years ago after some health problems.

His shop now offers all kinds of plant-based meat and cheese substitutes from pulled pork to pepperoni. 

"We have a lot of first-timers. We call them 'veg-curious,'" he said, "I would say like half of our customers are not vegan most of them just try to eat a little more plant-based or cut down on the meat."

While more places like Muellers' are popping up, other restaurants are just adding vegan options to their menus. 

Corey Horan is the general manager for Evel Pie. He said the restaurant owners and managing partner asked him to get a vegan pizza on the menu. 

The trick to a good vegan pizza is finding the right kind of vegan cheese. Most vegan cheeses are either soy or coconut oil-based, he said. Horan tested a lot of cheeses before he found one he liked.

"I wouldn't sell anything that I don't like myself," he said, "And if I don't feel good about it, I wouldn't put it out."

The menu features pies topped with veggies but also plant-based pulled pork, bacon and sausage.

Horan said it is a challenge in the kitchen to keep the vegan ingredients separate from the non-vegan items.

Edelman actually helped Evel Pie come up with its vegan menu. She said giving up pizza was one of the hardest parts of becoming vegan, which is why she wanted the options to be really good.

For those looking to become vegan, Edelman suggests starting by swapping out a few things already in your diet like plant-based versions of hamburgers or sausages. From there, switch to vegan cheeses and plant-based milks. 

However, it is important to remember to get the nine essential amino acids that come from protein sources. Those amino acids can be found in plant-based foods but if you are concerned about getting enough talk to a nutritionist.

From Desert Companion: No Meat, No Problem

Guests

Diana Edelman, founder, vegansbaby.com; Sebastian Mueller, co-owner, No Butcher; Corey Horan,  general manager, Evel Pie

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