© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plant-based restaurant options, lifestyles grow on St. Louisans

Left, Caryn Dugan and Dr. James Loomis discussed plant-based diets with host Don Marsh on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio
Left, Caryn Dugan and Dr. James Loomis discussed plant-based diets with host Don Marsh on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.”";s:3:

While in 2014 just 1 percent of U.S. consumers claimed to be vegan, in 2017, about 6 percent made that claim. With a 600 percent increase in just three years, and veg-friendly options becoming more commonplace in St. Louis, it is safe to say that this diet trend is not just a fad – it’s here to stay.

However, there is often confusion when it comes to the associated terms.

“Typically vegetarians will eat dairy and eggs, sometimes fish too – but no meat,” Caryn Dugan explained on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “Vegans … [consume] no animal products whatsoever.”

Dugan, also known as STL Veg Girl, continued to distinguish between vegan diets versus vegan lifestyles.

“People who follow a vegan [lifestyle], absolutely they do not eat any animal products at all … but also they don’t wear any animal products.”

In recent years, the term “plant-based” has sprouted, to which Dugan defined as a “healthy vegan diet.”

“So no animal products at all … but people who follow a plant-based diet typically are not eating Oreos – they’re vegan; Skittles – they’re vegan; potato chips – they’re vegan; but they’re not helping you health-wise.”

Host Don Marsh spoke with Dugan and Dr. James Loomis about the July 14 Plant-based Nutrition Summit at Washington University, of which they are organizers. Loomis is the medical director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine at Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and spent the 25 years prior in St. Louis at St. Luke’s Hospital and Wash U.

“Despite being a highly-trained professional … physicians today, we’re not taught anything about nutrition, frankly,” said Loomis, who shared a personal testimony of improving his health after switching to a plant-based diet.

“What we call healthcare today is not healthcare – it’s sick-care,” Loomis remarked, referencing the amount of pills prescribed before any thought is given to what a person’s diet looks like.

“We do add years to your life, but we’re taking away life from your years every step of the way because we’re waiting for you to get sick, we’re giving you drugs that have side effects and are expensive,” Loomis explained. “The only way you can practice true healthcare – which is really where you add years to your life, but sustain life in your years – is look at the root cause of these chronic diseases … the food we put in our mouths, how much exercise we get, how we cope from stress and recover from stress through sleep, and then what environmental toxins we expose ourselves to, primarily tobacco and alcohol.”

The Buffalo Blue burger is one of many veg-friendly options available at Lulu’s Local Eatery.
Credit David Kovaluk | Sauce Magazine
The Buffalo Blue burger is one of many veg-friendly options available at Lulu’s Local Eatery.

Two editors from Sauce Magazine – Catherine Klene and Heather Hughes – also joined Marsh to dish the dirt on the best veg-friendly food in town.

Although not specifically a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, Vicia was mentioned for its vegetable-forward menu, using meat as a secondary item on plates.

“They are moving to put plants in the forefront, using meat more as a condiment than as the main show,” Hughes said.

Klene also recognized the creations of the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger. “They genuinely taste like beef – it’s weird, but good,” she noted.

With more than 30 restaurants on Sauce’s list of regional veg-friendly places, standouts include Lulu’s Local Eatery, Small Batch Whiskey & Fare, Frida’s Deli, Pizza Head, Sacred Grounds Café and more.

Klene said people should also speak up if they do not see the necessary dietary options for them on a menu.

“Always ask,” Klene advised. “Most places with advanced notice can easily modify dishes or make something awesome for you.”

Diverging slightly from the pro-plant topic, Hughes and Klene then offered a list of four new places that are on their radar this month.

  1. Barg Continental Restaurant6417 Hampton Ave., St. Louis
  2. Maypop Coffee & Garden Shop803 Marshall Ave., Webster Groves
  3. Earthbound Satellite1921 S. Ninth St., St. Louis
  4. The Corner Street Food2605 Washington Blvd., St. Louis

Related Event:
What: Plant-Based Nutrition Summit
When: Saturday, July 14, 2018
Where: Washington University (1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63130)

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Stay Connected
Caitlin Lally is thrilled to join St. Louis Public Radio as the summer production intern for "St. Louis on the Air." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Caitlin also freelances for area publications like Sauce Magazine and the Belleville News-Democrat. In her career, she's covered topics such as Trump's travel ban, political protests and community activism. When she's not producing audio segments or transcribing interviews, Caitlin enjoys practicing yoga, seeing live music, and cooking plant-based meals.
Ways To Subscribe

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.