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L.A. Vegan Restaurant Owners Get Death Threats for Eating Meat

The husband-and-wife proprietors of a California-based vegan restaurant chain have received a deluge of death threats and calls for a boycott after it was discovered that the pair slaughter and eat meat in private at their upstate working farm.

Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of the Café Gratitude vegan restaurant group, told the Hollywood Reporter that they have received death threats and threats against their business after it was discovered that they consume meat in the privacy of their Be Love Farm in Northern California.

“People have taken up the mob mentality,” Matthew Engelhart told THR. “It saddens me that the choices we made in the privacy of our home would lead people to feel so betrayed that it’s elevated to threats on our lives. I’m very discouraged.”

Last week, an animal rights group unearthed a 2014 blog post from Terces Engelhart in which she wrote that she had resumed eating meat as part of her diet and posted some photos of homemade beef broth and packages of frozen beef harvested from their own dairy cows.

“After being vegetarian for over 40 years, [the Engelharts] have now decided to kill the animals on their farm, package them up, and eat their bits and pieces. On the very same land that grows produce for their vegan restaurants, and their daughter’s restaurant, Sage Vegan Bistro,” wrote My Vegan Journal’s Jackie Day.

The backlash was almost immediate: in addition to the death threats, the restaurant’s Yelp pages have been flooded with one-star reviews, and a Facebook page has been set up calling for a boycott.

Carrie Christianson, who started the Facebook boycott page, told THR that vegans have a right to be angry at the restaurant owners, “because veganism is a belief system.”

“You are patronizing a restaurant that you think has that philosophy, and it turns out it doesn’t,” she told the outlet. “Vegans should know that this restaurant has a farm that slaughters animals.”

But the Engelharts have fired back, telling THR that “natural farming” can’t exist “without animals,” and that even the organic vegetables that vegans eat cannot be grown without fertilizer made from animal residue. The Engelharts also say that they never set out to be the “mom and dad” of the vegan movement.

“We never signed up for that,” Matthew Engelhart said. “It’s crazy. Do [the protestors] check in on the diets of every other vegan restaurant owner? Do they check in on the diets of the owners of Whole Foods? We are baffled. And believe me there are lots of vegan enterprises where the principals are not vegan, or they have other enterprises that are not vegan.”

Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum

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