Welcome to the second installment of interviews with vegan and vegetarian folks in Salt Lake City. Please meet Francesco Perri, a very healthy vegan!
1. In one sentence, why are you vegan?
The health benefits, hard to argue against a diet that provides protein through plants.
2. Why do you think Salt Lake has such a big vegan scene?
I'd say in Salt Lake City there are many health conscious people and many active people, or usually a combination of the two. There is also a movement in society as of late towards simplicity. You can see this occurring in running equipment, in health care tactics, and of course in food production. People want to know what is in their food, they don't want all the processed junk. I always heard it growing up and it still holds true, you are what you eat, so why not eat right?
3. Do you consider yourself an activist? How so?
No, I won't be flour bombing women in fur coats anytime soon. For me veganism is first and foremost about personal health, however I can't ignore the many positive byproducts that come from a plant based diet, ie less animal cruelty, less factory farming and a better environment. I read Fast Food Nation in college, it didn't make me stop eating meat, it certainly made me more aware of what was going on around me but it wasn't until I read The China Study that I made drastic dietary changes.
4. Where is your favorite place to eat the following?
I'd have to say for breakfast, lunch, or dinner I really love Vertical Diner, though I've never been there for breakfast but they do serve it all day. It is a place where you can get just about anything you are craving, healthy or comfort food.
As for sweets I love Cakewalk and City Cakes, both do all vegan sweets, and both are great places to indulge in the occasional sugar fix.
For groceries I typically go to Whole Foods because I know I can find about everything I need, though I do want to make more of an effort to buy what I can from Cali's Natural Foods and the local farmers markets which are obviously seasonal. I think it is important to buy local, which Whole Foods does provide to some extent but not quite what you'd find at Cali's or a farmers market.
I'm not a coffee or caffeine guy so that not something I seek out. I have been getting take out from Kathmandu lately though, because it is tasty and also within walking distance of where I live, and sometimes I'll get the vegan bbq pizza from the Pie. I suppose in Salt Lake it's not too difficult to get to a good vegan restaurant or restaurant with vegan options, 15 minutes tops and you're there.
5. What restaurants have surprised you with vegan options?
A few months back some friends were in town and wanted to go to dinner with me but of course knowing that I was vegan made it difficult to find a place that accommodated everyone. We were downtown, near Squatters so I checked out their menu and sure enough they had denoted some vegan items on the menu. I'm not sure they make a lot of money off having the vegan and gluten free options but it is certainly a very pleasant surprise.