Uptown vegan restaurant helps Minnesotans achieve new diets for the New Year

With a new year comes the chance for a fresh start and for a lot of people, which means a shift in how they eat.  

In 2019, you may find yourself hearing more about going vegan, but before you make all kinds of big changes to your diet, there are some things to think about.

A recent article by the Economist called 2019 the “Year of the Vegan.” Jay-Z and Beyonce also recently challenged their fans to “Go Vegan” as a way to eat healthy and help the environment.

Michelle Courtright opened “Fig and Farro” in Uptown a year ago as a vegetarian restaurant.

Within the last few months, though, the menu has taken a turn and is now completely vegan. You won’t find any animal products on it, not even honey.

For her, the change was simple. It was delicious, plant-based food with a gentler impact on the environment.

“We’re a mission-based restaurant and basically what that means is we are educating our guests on the impact of food and climate change,” Courtright said.

“Most people don’t know that a plant-based diet has a 70 percent lower carbon footprint than a traditional American meat diet,” she added.

Courtright is excited for the New Year and new talk about veganism going more mainstream, including in Minnesota.

“It’s definitely a trend that’s popped up every day in the restaurant,” she said. “We’re seeing four or five people who recently switched to vegan and maybe they were a vegetarian before or were eating meat and trying to be vegan.”

She says it’s about better health and being a good steward of the environment.

Local dietitian Susan Marschke, of Park Nicollet Clinic, said “There’s a lot of recommendations for Americans to some environmental extent to try vegan or a more plant-based meal once a week.”

Marschke said veganism is a healthy way to eat, but if it’s not for you, there are other options, too. Marschke advises people to eat fresh foods, stay away from anything processed and slow down.

“My recommendation is to take time to eat,” said Marschke. “You sit down to make an event of it not that you have to make it as fancy as a holiday meal but that we’re mindful of eating.”

Fig and Farro said the restaurant will go a step further this year to help reduce its carbon footprint. The restaurant will plant a tree for every customer that comes through its doors.