Photo by Jackie Sobon
“I’m not Vegan!” was my exact thought when I was first given the assignment to cover Vegenation in Las Vegas. I was, however, excited to learn more and get to know what this diet is all about. Also, to see if you “have” to be Vegan to eat it! We all have friends that are Vegan or Vegetarian, (Yes, there is a difference), and I am sure that I’m not alone in having thought about diving into the transition that is: plant-based eating. My visit to Vegenation was the perfect opportunity to see what that diet change would be like for a day, and to discover a new and exciting palette I’ve never tried.
For whatever reasons people have made changes in their diets, the one common denominator is people want to feel good and maintain their daily routines while continuing to live our best lives. We’ve come so far from choosing frozen food from the grocery store or cheap drive thru windows. We’ve learned the price to pay is not worth the convenience. These days we meal prep, we look at what ingredients are in our food, and we are educated on it all.
Chef Donald Lemperle, Owner and Executive Chef of Vegenation, has been in the fine dining industry for over 30 years. “Food is like fashion,” says Chef, as he’s seen all the trends. The shift to make healthy choices is seen worldwide today. Fifteen years ago, Chef Donald made the choice to change his health through changing his routine. As he made the changes, he learned Veganism wasn’t just changing the food he would eat, but it would also make an impact on the environment. Becoming Vegan was different from any trend he saw from coast to coast. Veganism is a lifestyle.
One of the misconceptions of being Vegan is that your diet is simple, lettuce, salads, carrots, and more lettuce. That couldn’t be further than the reality. When I asked Chef Donald what his favorite food was, without hesitation, “Pizza!” You really can have all your favorites, while spoiling yourself at the same time. Vegenation presents dishes that we love to indulge in, like grilled cheese, burgers, Buffalo cauliflower chicken wings, sushi and, yes, PIZZA! We were invited to come into Vegenation and have our usual favorites. I was alone on my first trip in, as I wanted to make sure I could focus on the menu and the feel of the restaurant. Chicken and waffles, and my favorite adult beverages (yes- they serve alcohol!) with a Vegan twist? I was sold. Not only on the menu, but on the welcome I received from my server who was more than ready to help me with all the questions I had. I left happy and found myself craving my new favorite, Food Not Bombs Bowl for at least two weeks. The Breakfast/Brunch bowl features their house spiced Tofu, along with black bean chili and breakfast potatoes, topped with cheese and avocado. On my second trip, I had the kids join along. Their kids’ menu is short and to the point for the little ones who might be picky eaters, and they certainly cleared their plates for lunch. You’ll find a lot of the younger generation becoming Vegan and Vegetarian these days, as they too are surprisingly very aware of the health and environmental benefits.
Vegenation’s menu is seasonal and always packed with a variety of different cuisines. This fall, Chef Donald wanted to incorporate awareness of the plight of the oceans by offering a lobster roll on the menu. With the holidays around the corner, you’ll be happy to find some holiday favorites on the menus as well. Being at the Henderson location myself, the ambience is the perfect setting for all meals, with a rustic, comfortable feel, yet chic appearance inside. Pricewise, Chef Donald wants to make coming back easy on your wallet and has made all items on the menu very affordable. Even more reason for us to have Vegenation in our diets as we try to make our own health changes throughout the house. Chef Donald is also more than willing to share a recipe for you to try at home!
Needless to say- I’m hooked. After several visits back to try everything on the menu, I left agreeing that, maybe we all could give up our normal recipes at once. We sure could substitute things throughout the week with a few visits back to Vegenation. Like all things, all it takes are baby steps! I left every time with a full stomach and feeling the “good” type of full. Vegans and Non-Vegans alike can agree that this is their new favorite spot!
Thank you to Chef Donald, Owner and Executive Chef of VegeNation for the taking the time to meet me!
Restaurant Review by Andrea Pacelli
Downtown Las Vegas
616 E Carson Ave, Suite 120,
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Sunday - Thursday 8am-9pm
Friday - Saturday 8am-10pm
10075 Eastern Ave,
Henderson, NV 89052
Saturday And Sunday 9am-9pm