Vegan and gluten-free restaurants have become increasingly popular in recent years. Food trends seem to come and go, but this has become a lifestyle for quite a few. According to The Vegan Society, 14,262 vegan products were registered under The Vegan Trademark in 2019, an incredible 49% jump from 2018. And the vegan trend is thriving in the Washoe County area.
For many vegans and gluten-free eaters, specialized diets are a health choice: They may suffer from celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or they do not believe the way meat products are produced is ethical. For a long time, there wasn’t a market geared towards these people, even though it’s a large group. However, that is not the case anymore.
Richelle Snodgrass is a Reno native and has been a vegan for 14 years.
“It used to be super hard to find places to eat,” Snodgrass said, “But now I feel like a new [vegan] restaurant opens every week.”
Mountain High Sandwich Company in Incline Village is a popular choice for consumers with alternative diets. It has been open for about seven years and it offers a plethora of vegan and gluten-free options. Any of its sandwiches can be made vegan or gluten-free upon request, along with many already vegan sandwiches. It also offers things like soups, chocolate mousse, coconut pudding, mac and cheese, and muffins which are all vegan and gluten free.
“We have been in the food industry for a long time and constantly see people out for a bite with friends or family and can’t get anything because of their diet restrictions.” said John Brim He and wife Ashley Brim are owners of Mountain High Sandwich Company.
They believe that there should be options for everyone to enjoy a meal together. They decided to open up their shop for that reason. Not to mention they are vegan themselves.
Kameron Jury has been an employee for more than a year at Mountain High and loves all of the food options at the shop.
“I put the vegan cheddar on my sandwiches and I’m not even vegan, I just think it tastes so good,” said Jury.
“I’ve definitely had to defend my choice of being vegan, which doesn’t make much sense to me,” Snodgrass said. “I’m not sure why it bothers people, It’s a personal decision that doesn’t affect them.”
Many people that stop eating meat do so because they disagree with the cruelty of killing animals and the way the product is made. Or the fact that many animals are becoming extinct or endangered due to poaching for meat.
“I’m not just vegan because it’s cool nowadays, it’s about the principal,” Snodgrass said. “With all the veggie proteins out now, meat isn’t a necessity to stay healthy, yet humans still kill thousands and thousands of animals because steak tastes good.
“To me it just seems selfish.”
Many companies believe that is an honorable choice to make and have made huge efforts to make vegan and meat free food mainstream in food markets. Even some of the most popular fast food joints such as McDonald’s and Burger King are now carrying veggie-based meats like The Impossible or The Beyond Burger.
Vegan and gluten-free restaurants are becoming more and more popular every day. According to Plant Proteins Co., United States vegan retail sales went up 11% between 2018 and 2019.