There's A Vegan Grilled Cheese Fest This Weekend (With A Side Of Controversy)


There is going to be a vegan grilled cheese festival this weekend in Culver City. However, this celebration of non-dairy sandwiches is apparently controversial for some.

The Vegan Grilled Cheese Invitational goes down Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sage Organic Vegan Bistro, according to Eater LA. Several sandwich masters from area eateries will each craft their own spin on the dish. Five judges will determine who is the grilled cheese champ, and ticket proceeds will go towards PETA. For $15, you will get to sample all of the sandwiches and may vote for your favorite. You'll also get one free beer or kombucha, plus deals on appetizers in the restaurant.

If you are a vegan or lactose intolerant, it sounds like a pretty fun afternoon, right? Well, not so fast. According to Eater, some vegans will be spending their money elsewhere this weekend. To understand this controversy, we must go back to April.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro is owned by Mollie Engelhart and actor Woody Harrelson. Mollie is the daughter or Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre, two popular vegan restaurants. Back in April, the vegan community discovered that the Engelharts were no longer vegan and had in fact been eating meat since 2015. The couple owns Be Love Farm in Vacaville, and decided that maintaining a sustainable, organic farm meant they needed animals to produce manure. This led to eating cows, which Matthew wrote was okay, because Jesus was fine with the cow's sacrifice.

The farm occasionally supplies produce to the restaurants, while the restaurants themselves have continued to only serve organic, vegan food. Chaos, nevertheless, ensued. Many vegans felt betrayed, saying that the Engelharts had preached the vegan lifestyle for a long time and should have been more open about their decision, versus hiding the announcement on their personal blog. Many (including Moby) took to Yelp and Facebook to give the restaurant one star and declare their plans to boycott, while the Engelharts claimed to be receiving death threats. (We were unable to find any specific death threats against the Engelharts themselves in the sample of comments we perused, but the comments were decidedly not nice.)

Mollie Engelhart has maintained that she is still a vegan and takes no part in raising animals for meat. However, the blood in her veins is still enough to have some vegans saying they will not enjoy this grilled cheese invitational, no, siree.

One man writes, "Are you associated with Cafe Gratitude and their owners that raise slaughter animals?" Others seem more concerned with sample sizes and if the sandwiches will be gluten-free.

Anyhow, if you're willing to overlook your issues with Mollie's parents, then it sounds like a good, gooey, meat- and dairy-free time.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro is located at 4130 Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. Get your tickets here.

Related: The Best Vegan And Dairy-Free Frozen Treats In Los Angeles