Why Philly Chef Rich Landau Steers Clear Of the Word “Vegan”


Photo via Facebook // Vedge

Photo via Facebook // Vedge

A few months ago, when we asked a bunch of local vegans to dish on the most drool-worthy vegan foods they’d ever had in Philly, a big chunk of them named concoctions made by the well-known vegan chef Rich Landau. Listing off everything from the grilled seitan and vegan cheesecake at Vedge to the barbecue seitan “wings” at the now closed Horizons, these Philly folks made it clear that Landau is quite the vegan-cooking mastermind. So, it’s surprising to hear that the chef actually shies away from the word “vegan” when it comes to describing the food at his Rittenhouse restaurant, Vedge.

In a Washington Post piece titled”Vegetables: Are They the New Bacon? José Andrés and Other Chefs Think So,” Landau explained, “We shun the word ‘vegan’ because it comes with a lot of preconceived notions. They think there’s a bunch of stoned hippies back there listening to the Grateful Dead, stirring vegan chili and kale salads.” And probably wearing hemp shoes, too. Okay, okay, he has a point.

But with meat-loving Philly chefs like Scott Schroeder adopting vegan diets for their health, and with a slew of all-vegan spots like HipCityVeg, Grindcore House, P.S. and Co. and more popping up all over Philly and doling out nothing but plant-based dishes minus the hippie vibes, has the term “vegan” taken on a new, less I-eat-granola-and-wear-hemp-shoes image than what Landau describes? What do you guys think?

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