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First vegan/vegetarian restaurant opens in Aiken

After starting nine different restaurants over the years from Colorado to South Carolina, when Andrew Kraull moved to Aiken a year ago, he circled back around to his roots with a place offering a mostly plant-based menu. He has a master’s degree in nutrition and recently opened the Veg Out Café at 1619 Whiskey Road.

“At first, I had a food truck but based on the popularity of vegan and vegetarian dishes, I knew a brick-and-mortar was what we really needed. I stumbled across the health food store that was formerly Foods for Better Health and took over,” Kraull explained.

Vegan food and restaurants are on the rise. Even fast-food joints like Burger King, Del Taco, and KFC now offer vegan versions of burgers and burritos. Almost $4 billion is spent on plant-based foods and more than one in three Americans now identify as flexitarians, a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.

Concerns with animal welfare issues, health risks from eating too much meat, and the ever-growing cost of meat and dairy products, have contributed to the rise in vegan restaurants like Veg Out.

“We started renovating the space on New Year’s Eve and held a soft opening on January 24. The reception from the community has been great because there are no other completely vegan restaurants in Aiken. Most days there is a line out the door.”

The Fantastic salad is made with mushrooms, walnuts, garlic, and served over a bed of mixed greens and quinoa

The Unburger and Fantastic salad are two of the most popular offerings at Kraull’s restaurant.

“We also have bulk herbs including burdock and dandelion root, smoothies, and the only organic fruit juice bar between Columbia and Atlanta.”

Augusta restaurants, Uprooted, Humanitree House, and Soca Vegan Kitchen all offer vegan and vegetarian dishes but there is a difference between the two types of cuisine. A vegetarian doesn’t eat any animal flesh such as meat, poultry, or fish. A vegan is a stricter vegetarian who also avoids consuming dairy, eggs, and any other ingredients derived from animals.

Juices and detox teas are also a popular choice for Veg Out customers.

Across the river in Aiken, you’ll have to head to Veg Out to get your veggie fix. There is a website, Happy Cow, that lists vegan or vegetarian dining options for most cities across the U.S. To learn more about the menu for Veg Out, visit their Facebook page.Across the river in Aiken, you’ll have to head to Veg Out to get your veggie fix. There is a website, Happy Cow, that lists vegan or vegetarian dining options for most cities across the U.S. To learn more about the menu for Veg Out, visit their Facebook page.

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