Vegan In Vegas
There are many things that come to mind when I think of Las Vegas. Rarely do I think of good vegetarian food. It wasn’t until I read an article about highly successful vegans that I discovered that Steve Wynn — owner of the famous Wynn Resort in Las Vegas– was vegan and served vegan food in his hotels.
My travels rarely take me to Vegas. There is so much there that is bothersome and degrading to the mind and spirit, that I find very few reasons for wanting to visit. Sometimes, as I child, our family stayed over for a day or two when heading to the Grand Canyon or when my brother and I accompanied my dad on work-related trips. On occasional road trips from California to Michigan, I drove through, but never stopped. However, recently, on a trip out west: Judy, the boys, and I met my side of the family in Vegas for a Mother’s Day get-together. We took some extra time to visit some top veggie-friendly restaurants and compare the creative approaches of the nation’s best chefs with Adventist Cuisine.
With little time and money to spend in Vegas, I was trying to figure out the best approach of maximizing both. Thankfully, I came across a blog by Las Vegas vegan expert Paul Graham. I emailed Paul to get advice on places to go, places not to go, and anything else that would be helpful in making decisions on where to eat. He replied with two emails, allowed me to drop his name at key places, and led me to some of the best places to eat. I’m planning on purchasing his book.
Although this adventure had fun components, I was very serious about trying to learn more about the role of vegan/vegetarian food in today’s society and how Adventists can make an impact using tools we’ve had for decades.
I realized several things:
1. Food plays a large role in ministering to today’s generation. People are more fascinated with food today than ever before. Personal YouTube videos of amateur creations are very common — especially now that media has allowed trained chefs to share with fans how to make great dishes. Food is very much a part of the young professional culture and this culture will have a long life.
2. Adventists should study how to take more advantages in using health as a form of ministry and outreach. For whatever reason, there aren’t many successful classically trained chefs who are Seventh-day Adventists and who specialize in making the Adventist health message more available to the masses. I wish that more young people would read what Ellen White says about starting restaurants and resorts near Adventist hospitals, gaining inspiration to think outside the box. I also wish that more business people would invest in fresh ideas that include health ministry.
Adventists have done little to contribute in product creation. Loma Linda, Cedar Lake, and Worthington have their place. But where are the taco trucks, classy restaurants, and community centers? Others have taken advantage of these ideas and are experiencing high success.
3. Now is the time. Whether you are a classically trained chef in charge of a large kitchen or just someone who likes to cook, there are so many resources available to help kick up Adventist involvement in vegan/vegetarian cooking. Vegan cheese doesn’t have to be made using grandma’s recipe. Veggie meat doesn’t just have to consist of burgers and hot dogs. There are options and preparations that can assist even the weakest-skilled enthusiast who has a desire to cook good healthy food.
4. With all of its negatives in relation to Christian values, Las Vegas is a major player when it comes to gourmet vegetarian cooking, easily taking its rightful place with other culinary cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Future blog posts will highlight my experience eating at some of Vegas’s best vegan spots.