Restaurateurs are learning now that they no longer need to serve meat to succeed, as New York City restaurateur Ravi DeRossi discovered when he made the decision to switch all his restaurants to serve all-vegan menus, a change that has seen sales at the bar double…
DeRossi, who is working to turn nearly all of his 15 restaurants and bars vegan, says food sales at cocktail bar Mother of Pearl have doubled since it went vegan.
In a candid interview with the Village Voice, DeRossi said he was inspired to make the transition after losing his beloved cat. DeRossi had been a lifelong animal lover and on-and-off vegan, yet when he broke into the restaurant industry nearly a decade ago, he felt like he had to serve meat to be successful. “I got sucked into that world. I sort of lost my conscience along the way.”
Although the double in sales is a great sign, DeRossi is just happy others share his ethical vegan beliefs. “I’m more worried about my conscience and living with the weight on my shoulders of the damage I’m doing, and the suffering of animals,” DeRossi told Vice.
Until now DeRossi hesitated to remove animal products from their menus: “I thought I’d go out of business if I made [them] all vegan.” However it seems these days that people are more willing to embrace vegan food, and New York is increasingly open to plant-based diets, even being dubbed the most vegan-friendly city in the U.S by PETA in 2014.
“Twelve years ago, when I got into this business, vegan was so not cool. It was bad. People weren’t cooking with vegetables; it was just an afterthought,” DeRossi says. Now not only are vegetables taking the lead on plates, focusing on them also lowers a restaurant’s costs as meat prices are soaring.
To counter any remaining perception that eating vegan means Tofurky and Vegenaise on sprouted bread, they’re using minimal soy and none of the fake meats that can strike fear in the palates of discerning diners, although DeRossi will be offering house-made versions of those in a forthcoming vegan butcher shop in Williamsburg. (There, you’ll be able to order slices of seitan like you would meat at a deli, in line with similar trendy ventures that have found success in Minneapolis and San Francisco.)
With the butcher shop plans — and DeRossi’s recently launched charity, called BEAST, which will raise money for animal-rights organisations through parties at his venues — it’s clear he and his team want to keep veganism on the map in an unforgettable way.
Article adapted from the Village Voice.