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Posted May 11, 2016 by The Argonaut in News

Founders of vegan restaurant Café Gratitude face death threats for eating meat

By Christina Campodonico

Vegan activist Lola Korneevets protests outside Café Gratitude on Rose Avenue

Vegan activist Lola Korneevets protests outside Café Gratitude
on Rose Avenue

The founders of a popular vegan restaurant in Venice say they are facing death threats after announcing that they now eat meat.

The “100% organic plant-based restaurant chain” Café Gratitude has been at the center of a media firestorm since a February 2015 blog post by owners Terces and Matthew Engelhart recently spread online.

The couple, who had been vegetarians for 40 years, wrote about eating beef from a cow raised on their private farm in Northern California. They started receiving death threats in April after animal rights activists started circulating the post, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Local vegans have picketed outside the Café Gratitude location on Rose Avenue twice in the past two weeks, each involving about a dozen protesters.

“A lot of vegans go to this ‘vegan restaurant’ thinking that they’re supporting a business that aligns with their ethics. For [the Engelharts] to be promoting that behavior … it’s hypocritical,” said Chase Avior, who organized an April 30 demonstration.

But the Engelharts’ PR rep Diana Hossfeld says that Be Love Farm is the couple’s home — a private entity that does not supply food to Café Gratitude or sister vegan restaurant chain Gracias Madre, save for an occasional surplus of peaches or butternut squash. She also said the farm ascribes to the Engelharts’ “no waste philosophy” of farming and regenerative agriculture, which aims to restore soil health by mimicking the natural processes of nature.

“The cows being raised on the farm aren’t being raised [specifically] for consumption. They are there as part of the sustainable farm,” Hossfeld told The Argonaut. As for the Engelharts, she said, “It’s not like they’re eating burgers daily.”

Lola Korneevets, who along with Sarah Jane Hardt co-organized a May 7 demonstration outside the Rose Avenue location, said the Engelharts “have betrayed the vegan community, which had supported them over the years under the impression that we were helping a vegan business thrive.”

Others are standing by the Engelharts.

Rainbeau Mars, a family friend and author of “The 21-Day SuperStar Cleanse,” said the vegan community’s
ire is counterproductive to the plant-based food movement, in which the Engelharts’ restaurants continue to play
a leading role.

Mars is also on the board of the Venice-based soil regeneration advocacy nonprofit Kiss the Ground, cofounded by Matthew Engelhart’s son and Café Gratitude co-owner Ryland Engelhart.

“We get our groceries somewhere, maybe Whole Foods or the Co-op, but you don’t know if the CEOs eat meat. It would be weird if you stopped supporting someone because they did. The real problem isn’t eating meat, but the psychology of anger,” Mars told The Argonaut. “If you don’t want harm on the planet, then why are you being harmful and why are you choosing to harm and attack?”




    Vegans, get over yourselves!

    Pamela Bennett

    We raised and butchered our own cow and pigs in the 1970’s when our children were 4 and 6. The 6 year old grew up to be a veterinarian.


    It’s not about their diet. What people eat is their business, but who they eat is not a personal choice. We speak for the victims of their actions and that’s exactly who the non-human animals in this situation are. Veganism isn’t a trend or a diet, it is a moral baseline. It is our duty not to harm or exploit sentient beings regardless of which species they belong to. The Engelharts have made a mockery of both the suffering of non-human individuals they exploit and vegans who fight against this violence. Furthermore, their claims that killing animals somehow helps them ‘know the Father’ is simply ridiculous. Contrary to their claims, animals do not sacrifice their lives willingly. They fight till their last breath. All sentient beings want to live. Killing them for profit, taste or tradition is barbaric and unethical.


    Shame on the Engelharts for betraying the animals.

    The reporter should’ve done better research on this story. The protests are not about personal choices or diet but that harming and killing innocent animals is wrong.

    It’s simple. Animal cruelty is wrong. Don’t eat, use or sell innocent animals.


    We raised and abused our children in the 80s when there were 6 and 5. The 5 year old grew up to be a pediatrician.

    jon spear

    I think the outrage and disappointment from the vegan community has to do with the hypocrisy of the owners, and betrayal of their own former statements regarding veganism as part of their own spirituality.

    Also, their blog makes some outrageously insincere statements about how their killing a cow somehow is done with love. There is no such thing as humane slaughter.


    last line says why you choosing to harm and attack referring to someone protesting while people are literally killing innocent animals… lol

    Elliot Yung

    Clearly the entire family is completely unethical, hypocritical, and of course greedy. This has nothing to do with sustainable farming. This has to do with an older couple getting closer to the end of their life wanting to eat burgers, cheese, creamy desserts – whatever they’re eating – and somehow justifying murdering and consuming the cows they’re raised since they were babies along the way. Any intelligent, logical, moral person sees that it is unethical to raise, slaughter and eat animals and own vegan restaurants at the same time, especially restaurants that were considered by many to be the flagship restaurants of our community and our movement. Shame on you – all of you Engelharts. Including you Mollie. If you don’t agree with what your father is doing – why are you still getting produce from your father’s farm from Sage? And why hasn’t Woody Harelson whom we all love come out and said anything about Matthew and Terces’ unethical behavior. Either stop killing animals on Be Love or sell the restaurants. But I doubt the greedy, blood thirsty Engelharts will.


    The owners of both places do a disservice to the cow they slaughtered, and the community that supports them, their farm, and their business by being hypocritical in their behavior. Their ethics do not align with the values of our vegan community. Its a shame they cannot stand by vegan principles 100%, both in their personnel AND professional lives. I do not frequent Gratitude for it is out of my price range, but restaurants like these ARE the lesser of the evils when it comes to healthy safe food. I would now, however, eat there knowing the owners, who eat meat, may also be compromising other things too, like the ‘organic’ nature of the food served to me. We are so duped in our political system, we’d hoped that Gratitude was at least one pure refuge from the duplicity of the rest of the world. That cow they ate will not have died in vain, if we are all now examining this issue in a public forum.


    Vegans don’t have enough energy to kill anyone lol


      Best comment award


      All this nonsense about killing animals is wrong is beyond me.
      Thats nature. Everything has a predator to predate on. And it amazes me, how us, humans in some eyes are exempt from consuming “innocent animals”.

      Everyone has their own opinion, so needles I won’t say more

    Omm garden

    What a bunch of poser’s it’s there Sustainable Farm, they are an integrated cycle of the most natural kind, and a very key part of the whole process, your organic farms that produce your vegan salad depends on a rich fertile soil that composted manure provide for the soil. Get out of your comfort zone and check out commercial organic farming for your self you may be surprised.

    Belle Tempkin

    You can’t kill a cow to eat it, but vegans are so loony they’d kill the owner of a restaurant for LYING TO THEM!??


    Let’s not forget that some people do have serious conditions that do not allow them to be on a meat diet. However besides being unethical,Vegans don’t have to kill anyone to prove their moral/health choices; meat eaters are killing themselves by eating meat.. Good luck!

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