An organic and delicious option for your next lunch is located at 177 Hilltown Village Center in Chesterfield, Missouri. StLouisHolistic member and restaurant owner, Leah Mensey, gave us the inside scoop on her plant-based and all organic vegan menu at VegaDeli.
Vegan food made by Vegans – Leah, her husband and co-owner AJ, and employees practice vegan lifestyles and bring their knowledge to their customers’ plates. VegaDeli is the only vegan restaurant in St. Louis, but the media judges it as a vegetarian restaurant, which broadens the competition. Guess what? Even without the fish or eggs, Vegadeli still won Best Vegetarian Restaurant in both the Riverfront Times and St. Louis Magazine.
With her original vegan recipes, such as the marinated kale wrap, vegan burger and salad with lemon-based dressing, Leah keeps her menu fresh and always offers something new. In fact, when she first opened VegaDeli three years ago, Leah overhauled her menu every week. She now keeps the menu pretty consistent while changing or adding about two or three items per week.
“Our menu now is pretty much composed of our most popular items from over the years,” Leah says. “And we still keep it fresh.”
Leah adds her goal is to promote health benefits of a plant-based, nutrient rich diet. She does by using whole foods, making everything on her menu from scratch and never buying any food items with unrecognizable, hard to pronounce ingredients on the label.
“Lots of foods have so many chemicals, additives and other toxins,” Leah says. “I always tell people, ‘If you don’t know the ingredients, don’t buy it.’”
Leah claims that adding a vegan, plant-based meal just once a day for a week will instantly improve one’s health, with benefits including better overall energy, wight loss, lower cholesterol and greater mental clarity. Leah should know. When she started her vegan diet in the mid 90s, she was facing some potentially serious health issues. But once she eliminated animal products from her diet and consistently ate whole foods, she says her health problems went away and she’s been healthy ever since.
Having already created a successful restaurant that has found a loyal niche market, Leah is opening a second restaurant, PuraVegan, by the end of April in the Central West End. This location will offer a raw vegan menu and café atmosphere. She also stays busy by teaching vegan cooking classes at VegaDeli to educate and consult with her customers about plant-based and raw vegan food choices. Soon her consultative work will be available in one spot at veganatomy.com to keep the community informed on smarter food choices.
“We’re more than just a restaurant,” Leah says. “People email us for advice. We develop relationships in the community. We have more of an impact on these people’s lives than just serving food.”