Famous California vegan restaurateurs under fire over revelation they eat meat

The husband and wife, founders of the California-based, celebrity-endorsed vegan restaurant group Café Gratitude, say they have received death threats after it was revealed last week that they are breeding, killing and eating animals on his farm north of san francisco.

matthew and terces engelhart, both in their 60s, who opened the first gratitude cafe in 2004 and whose famous followers include gwyneth paltrow, beyoncé and sacha baron cohen, countered the storm of criticism with a defense of “regenerative agriculture.” methods they now use at their be love farm in vacaville, calling it a personal choice made in the privacy of their home.

Reading: Cafe gratitude meat

“We started looking at nature and what we saw is that nature doesn’t exist without animals,” matthew engelhart told the hollywood reporter last week after animal rights activists unearthed and circulated entries from spring 2015 blog from the farm’s website, including photos of a freezer full of beef, gravy jars, and matthew enjoying a burger, with posts about his “transition” to meat products after nearly 40 years of vegetarianism.

“people have adopted the mafia mentality”, he opined, after protesters gathered in front of his restaurants with signs saying “no animal is grateful to die”, he started a boycott page on facebook and posted frantically screaming reviews of a star.

“Cows make an extreme sacrifice for humanity, but that is their position in God’s plan as food for predators,” Matthew Engelhart added in a statement about his decision. “we can be part of that sacrament.”

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But the vegan purists who frequented the cafe’s various branches in Southern California, despite their irritatingly named “affirmation” dishes like “acceptor” sushi bowl and “grateful” kale salad , or maybe because of them, they won’t calm down so easily. . “Damn hypocrites!!!! I hope they are burned with flames and eaten by carnivores,” shouts a post on the Facebook boycott page. “They are cheating vegans to support their animal slaughter,” says another.

The Engelharts spawned an entire industry with a carefully marketed message of peace, love and sharing, including a sister vegan Mexican restaurant, Gracias Madre, in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The couple has written several books, including Sacred Trade: Business as a Path to Awakening and Kindred Spirit: Fulfilling Love’s Promise. Their personal website is called Eternal Presence and references the board game they created in 2004, called the Bountiful River Board Game, which was on every table at their San Francisco flagship; and that they said it would train players to adopt “an unknown view of being abundant” and develop a “spiritual foundation” for looking at money.

A be love farm blog post from February of last year highlights the “big week” when they transitioned to meat products.

“that transition is happening deep within us, we know it is a necessary and important part of our growth, as well as the sustainability of our farm… as we open our hearts more to the presence of love …the page features photos of their new meat products along with a bucolic shot of their cows “sitting to chew their cud in the warm spring breeze.” the couple is no stranger to controversy.

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In 2011, they cited a series of “aggressive lawsuits” by disgruntled employees as the reason they had to close or sell their eight gratitude cafe restaurants in the Bay Area. the lawsuits challenged the restaurants’ tip distribution practices and alleged unpaid overtime wages. at the time they wrote on their facebook page that it would cost them too much to defend themselves in court.

Another lawsuit was filed by an employee, alleging he was fired after refusing to attend the San Francisco-based Historical Forum’s controversial self-improvement course and an offshoot of Werner Erhard’s self-actualization program.

In the end, the Engelharts struck a deal, selling or giving away some of the restaurants to family members, including their third son from a previous marriage, Matthew, who works at La Restaurant. The couple reportedly met at a historic forum seminar after Terces (which is “secret” spelled backwards) fled a conventional life in Santa Cruz with her husband and children, manager of IBM, sold all her belongings, loaded up a caravan and set off. supposedly heading to durango, colorado.

That was in 1992. Their daughter Mollie, from that marriage, now runs a vegan beer garden in Los Angeles with business partner and actor Woody Harrelson, as well as Kindkreme, a vegan ice cream parlor.

mary cummins, los angeles-based activist, founder of animal advocates, says the engelharts have been influenced by the controversial views of allan savory, the zimbabwean ecologist and author of holistic management, who advocates the use of livestock on grasslands as the only way to reverse climate change and prevent widespread destruction of these lands. (The idea has its detractors – George Monbiot in The Guardian – and supporters – Hunter Lovins in The Guardian as well.)

meanwhile, none of this seems to appease outraged vegans and it’s unclear how this will affect the engelhart empire, which serves 28,000 meals a day and offers a variety of events and packages for families and corporations alike in love. . farm. It’s unclear if parents will still want their children to pet Carmella and Cinnamon, two of their cows, after learning the freezer is full of meat.

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  • this article was updated on May 6 to change a reference to werner erhard’s self-actualization program

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