Menus from Strip to suburbs go meatless to encourage change
Las Vegas-area restaurants would like you to think of the first month of the
year as Veganuary — and that’s a mouthful in more ways than one.
Veganuary began in the United Kingdom in 2014, as a way to encourage people to
try the vegan lifestyle. In Las Vegas, the observance originated with Diana Edelman
,founder of the Vegans, Baby website, which bills itself as “the guide to all thing vegan.”
Edelman said the idea to hold a celebration here was born when she read about a vegan
restaurant week somewhere in Pennsylvania.
“I thought about that, and thought how Las Vegas is really starting to come into its own i
n the vegan dining world,” she said. “What we’re missing is something like that. I figure
d a month would be good, because it would give people time to go to the restaurant they
Vegan restaurants are a big part of Veganuary, of course, but Edelman was especially int
erested in participation from non-vegan spots.
“For a lot of these restaurants, they’re just dipping their toes into vegan dining,” she said
. “It’s the ones that aren’t vegan but are wanting to reach the vegan audience and are sta
rting to offer more options that are most exciting. The more restaurants see other restau
rants offering vegan options and vegans supporting them, I think that gives Las Vegas th
e opportunity to compete on more of a national level.”
Edelman asked each participating restaurant to choose two or three dishes, on or off the
regular menus; they could do a multi-course arrangement if desired. As is the case
with more mainstream restaurant-week events, they’re donating a portion of proceeds that
month to the Veganuary registered charity in the United
Kingdom and the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with the amo
unt of the donation set by each restaurant. At press time, participants included Turmeric
Flavors of India, Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery, Pancho’s Kitchen, Go Vegan Cafe
Panacea, Violette’s Vegan Organic Cafe & Juice Bar and Hummus Bowls & Wraps. (Visit
Also among participating restaurants are Hussong’s Cantina and Slice of Vegas at The S
hoppes at Mandalay Place, and Hussong’s
Cantina in Boca Park, which already offer vegan choices.
“We don’t just have a section on the menu, we have an entire page,” said Scott Frost, pre
sident of Titan Brands, which owns and operates the three restaurants. “We try to do wh
atever we can that’s on the regular menu in a vegan form.”
Examples would be guacamole, a quesadilla, enchiladas and fajitas at Hussong’s and gar
lic bread and spaghetti and gardein meatless “meatballs” at Slice of Vegas.
Frost said the vegan menu was introduced at Hussong’s in 2011, the year after it opened,
and at Slice of Vegas when it opened in 2012.
“We were vegan before vegan was cool,” he quipped.
He said they did it because their director of operations suspected veganism was going to
take off, and to give groups of vegans and non-
vegans a place where they could dine together.
Edelman said restaurant choices for vegans in Las Vegas are increasing at a rapid rate.
“From 2015 to today — basically two years later — I’m astounded at how much the vegan
scene has grown here,” she said. “There are more and more options.”
There are many reasons for that, including the fact that 1 percent of Americans now
identify as vegans or vegetarians, according to the NPD Group, a market research
“I think it’s just general awareness,” she said, listing environmental impact, health conce
rns and animal rights.
“Chefs and other people are really becoming conscious of where they’re getting their foo
d and what they’re consuming,” she said.
While Edelman said she’d love to make the observance twice a year, she’d be pleased if t
he need for the concept becomes obsolete.
“I can only hope that,” Edelman said. “A lot of restaurants I talked to said, ‘It’s just not ri
ght for us right now.’ Restaurants are starting to see the value in it, but we’re not there y