Meatless Monday Weekly Series: Sage Organic Bistro

Street tacos platter at Sage Organic Bistro
Street tacos platter at Sage Organic Bistro
Christine Chiao

With a long civic history, Meatless Mondays remains as relevant a strategy used to curb the ever-growing list of public health and environmental issues as ever. In fact, last November, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution approving Meatless Mondays, making this the largest city in the U.S. to do so.

Meatless Mondays began as a way to conserve resources during World War I, and was revived in the second World War for similar reasons. A decade ago, the weekly observation was reintroduced as a public campaign for awareness by a real-life former Mad Man named Sid Lerner, who logged 50 years of experience working on Madison Avenue. His proposal was backed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for a Livable Future, along with 30 other schools of public health.

In L.A., going meatless has become increasingly easy, with restaurants -- including Mozza -- officially incorporating it into their menu. That's why we are kickstarting a weekly series to highlight various restaurants, recipes, chefs and purveyors who are expanding the ways in which we can go meat-free. For this first piece, we visited Sage Organic Vegan Bistro on a busy corner of Echo Park.

Owner Mollie Engelhart is a lifelong vegan; her father is co-owner of Café Gratitude. With her restaurant, she decided to depart from his approach by featuring a menu with greater comfort food selections. As she describes, the menu is a hybrid of influences informed by her own Italian background along with members of her team.

The menu is comprehensive, with appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, tacos and entree bowls. There's a selection of Engelhart's line of Kind Kreme ice creams for dessert, along with pastries and shakes. Engelhart designed the menu to be one third gluten-free, one-third nut-free and one-third soy-free to accommodate various allergies. Up to 50 percent of the ingredients are sourced from local farms. She schedules a thrice-a-week farmers market run to keep up with what fresh and seasonal.

Since opening two years ago, the restaurant has established a loyal customer base as well as a reputation outside of the vegan community and Los Angeles itself. A recent survey Engelhart conducted among her visitors revealed that up to 80 percent are not vegans; Engelhart tells of how a British rock musician recently stopped by for a meal based upon a tip he heard in London.

Engelhart will be opening a second location in Culver City in June.

And in related news:

- The Undercover Vegetarian: Alma

- Top 10 Famous Vegans, 2012 Edition

- 10 Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in L.A.: Happy Earth Day


Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Follow the author on Twitter at @chrstnchiao.

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