I believe in celebrating changes and small successes. As much as vegans would love to wake up one day to find that whole world has ended animal suffering forever, chances are that it won’t happen that way. Change takes time and is often slow. I believe in holding the vision of the world that we want to see and then looking for the evidence of that change and supporting it. Small steps are the evidence. They are important and deserve to be celebrated. Right now it is the easiest time to be a vegan because of these steps that businesses have made. As more and more people embrace this lifestyle, the easier it will become. Look at the gluten- free diet. The more popular that it becomes the easier it is to find those food options. The same goes for plant- based foods. The stores will carry more products and the restaurants will offer more menu items/ vegan alternatives which will in turn result in more people choosing a vegan lifestyle.
Last month Ben and Jerry’s announced they will be offering non- dairy ice-cream options, debuting in 2016, because of high consumer demand. Link
Chipotle, a large chain made an impressive full switch to serving only non-gmo foods. This is the first restaurant chain that I am aware of to make such a change due to high consumer demand. They are not vegan, but they have begun introducing more menu options and that step is worth celebrating.
I’ve even seen some restaurants offer a completely separate vegan menu in addition to their regular menu because enough people asked for it. The important thing is when businesses make changes that are in line with the vision of a vegan world, that they get consumer support. Especially the smaller restaurants.
Last fall a NYC restaurant, made a brave and beautiful leap in support of the vegan vision. Actually it is the boldest change that I have seen.
Gustorganics restaurant and bar located at 519 Avenue of the Americas @ 14th street – New York, NY, made the brave switch from a primarily meat based menu to a 100% plant- based, organic vegan menu, after Kiki Adami and Paul Chang realized that meat was one of the biggest players in environmental destruction, climate change and health decay. They didn’t change the name of the business or the staff. They took a stand for what they believed and educated the staff on doing things a different way. They had their staff all watch the documentaries Cowspiracy and Earthlings and they educated the chefs on vegan cuisine. They faced an enormous amount of adversity from their former patrons, including hate mail. But they stood up for what they believed in and went along with the full change-over anyway. The food is so delicious and it has become one of my favorite places to dine.
Unfortunately last month they sent out a letter announcing financial challenges that they are facing since making the switch and that they would have to close their doors soon if things don’t change. This would be so unfortunate. The food is amazing, there is a great atmosphere and wonderful service. The letter asks over and over “where are you?”, meaning where did all the customers that were so supportive of the vegan transition in the beginning go. It seems that the number of people that came out to support them in the beginning weren’t consistently there. Regardless of the fact that they were financially suffering and risking closing their doors, they didn’t change back to offering meat- based menu items. They held tight to their beliefs. The drastic change was bold and took an enormous amount of courage and deserves to be honored and supported. This movement will die if businesses that make the switch can’t financially sustain themselves. See this short video for their story.
Small steps from any business are important and should be honored. But large, brave steps need and deserve even more support. If most vegans would love to see a more compassionate, animal loving, plant based world in a very short time, then we have to be there for those businesses that are in alignment with our vision and make drastic changes overnight. Please support Gustorganics! They can be saved but we are running out of time. To donate and learn more about their restaurant and transition follow this link to their GoFundMe Page .