Group goes vegan for challenge

A vegan eggplant panini is seen during lunch on Friday at Foodies Bystro.

A vegan eggplant panini is seen during lunch on Friday at Foodies Bystro.

On Wednesday, Jim Shirk went to McDonald’s for lunch then had steak and potatoes for dinner.

“I have never gone one day without fast food, candy or meat,” he said.

Until now.

At the urging of his daughter Gianna, the Carson City supervisor joined the three-day Vegan Challenge, sponsored by the Foodies Bystro, a restaurant inside the Brewery Arts Center.

“I want to bring diversity to our area,” said owner Rupal Martinez. “I also want to promote vegan food as a cuisine choice.”

The challenge began Thursday and ends today. Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts, then lunch, dinner and a snack are provided through the restaurant. One vegan dessert is also provided daily through Carson City Confections.

“I love cooking for vegans because they don’t get a lot of desserts and fun stuff,” said owner Rebecca Bevans, who will make specialty vegan and gluten-free treats. “And it’s really not that hard. It’s easy to replace certain ingredients and make any dessert vegan.”

Of the 25 applicants, 10 were selected.

Monica Neumann, 52, joined the challenge out of concern for the quality of her food.

“There’s all this scariness with GMOs and Monsanto,” she said. “I just wanted to get healthier and to get my family eating less meat.”

With meals such as eggplant paninis garbanzo and cashew rice with cabbage and potatoes, Newmann said, she hasn’t missed meat and dairy.

“The food is just out this world wonderful,” she said. “I have not felt like I’m making a sacrifice at all.”

Carter Schleicher, 63, was particularly impressed with the double chocolate cupcake.

“It was the most marvelous confection,” he said. “And who would have thought it was vegan?”

Susan McElfish, 58, said she’s noticed a difference in the way the feels after starting the challenge.

“The flavors are amazing,” she said. “It’s fresh and delicious. I feel really good after I eat it — and full.”

Although Shirk said he misses some of his old favorites, he can see making some changes to his diet in the future.

“I think you could incorporate this into at least half of your diet and it would be beneficial,” he said. “But three days with no dairy and no meat in itself should be on my tombstone.”


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