Asheville, already well-known for its vegan-friendliness, is taking the plant-based culinary experience in the city to the next level. The 1st Annual Asheville Plant-Based Face-Off, presented by Asheville Vegan Outreach and No Evil Foods and sponsored by VegFund, challenges Asheville restaurants and chefs to put their creativity to the test by offering innovative new vegan dishes. Up to 15 Asheville restaurants are participating, each creating a new menu item free of animal products and offering it to guests for the month of October 2016. Guests will spend the month in a delightful food coma after visiting participating restaurants and trying all the different dishes, and will then vote for their favorites in three categories: Best Overall, Most Creative, and Best Interpretation of a Traditional Dish. Winners (both chefs & participants) will receive prizes and recognition at an awards ceremony following the Face-Off.
Interest in vegan dining is growing, with more and more Americans reducing their consumption of animal products and increasingly turning to plant-based meals, according to food industry website Food Navigator USA. Restauranteurs are finding that there is a demand for plant-based options not only from people who have fully embraced a vegan lifestyle, but also from those who seek to reduce their intake of animal products due to concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare. As part of its Asheville Vegan Outreach campaign, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is encouraging plant-based eating by partnering with the Asheville ‘Plant Meat’ purveyor No Evil Foods to present the first-ever Asheville Plant-Based Face-Off.
Similar competitions have enjoyed great success in many other cities, including Durham, NC and Sacramento, CA. Participating restaurants have experienced increased business, favorable publicity and rave reviews for their vegan offerings, with many reporting that they often sold out of the featured vegan menu items. In many cases, the restaurants have added the vegan items to their menus permanently. Some restaurants have also started offering additional vegan-themed dinners and specials to meet the growing demand for plant-based meals.
The roster of participating restaurants in the Asheville Plant-Based Face-Off so far includes: Gan Shan Station, Dobra West, Corner Kitchen, Chestnut, Strada, Social Lounge, Plant, Mellow Mushroom, Rezaz, The West Village Market, Green Sage Cafe (all 3 locations), Zia Taqueria and Posana. No Evil Foods will extend a 20 percent discount to any participating restaurant that features the company’s plant-based “meats” in a Face-Off dish. No Evils Foods’ products include The Prepper (vegan chicken), The Stallion (Italian sausage) and El Zapatista (Mexican chorizo). Brother Wolf Animal Rescue will promote the Face-Off and help steer guests to the participating eateries, giving the participating restaurants great exposure and increased business.
As part of its ethic of “uncompromised compassion,” Brother Wolf Animal Rescue encourages everyone to consider the impacts of their food choices. The organization’s very successful annual VeganFest event, recently held in downtown Asheville, drew an estimated 8,000 attendees, with many traveling from out of town to attend the two-day festival. The Asheville Plant-Based Face-Off will build on this record of success, offering area residents and out-of-towners the chance to experience some tasty new dishes while also giving participating chefs the opportunity to let their creative juices flow. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Rowdy Keelor is the Director of Asheville Vegan Outreach, one of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s newest programs. He is passionate about changing the world and believes a planetary shift towards veganism is a vital part of that change. He also loves nature.