When Ravi DeRossi decides to belly up to the bar—or the stove—he doesn’t do it halfway.
The Big Apple restaurateur recently dropped all animal-based foods from the menu of his East Village tiki bar, Mother of Pearl, right down to the cocktails. Then he really had foodies licking their lips when he announced that he intends to make his 14 other bars and restaurants cruelty-free, too. That caught PETA’s ear, earning DeRossi its Compassionate Business Award.
The new menu at Mother of Pearl has a Polynesian flavor, with dishes like coconut rolls with coconut miso butter and black lava salt and green mango poké with tomato, jicama, crispy rice, and macadamia. Hungry yet?
DeRossi, who got into the business about 11 years ago, feels strongly about how serving meat at his restaurants harms animals and the environment, so he decided to put his money where his mouth is.
“If we’re going to do something to help this planet, it needs to start,” he said. “It needs to be me not just preaching, but me just doing it. I’m in the position to do it.”
Next on his to-do list is the first place he opened, The Bourgeois Pig. The cheese plates, fondue, and charcuterie will be gone by this summer when it reopens as LadyBird, a vegan wine and tapas bar. After that, he plans to expand his popular vegan restaurant, Avant Garden. (Don’t you love the name?)
DeRossi opened Avant Garden last year, about the time he launched Benefits to End Animal Suffering Today (BEAST), a nonprofit dedicated to ending cruelty to animals by raising money for like-minded organizations.
But it was last Christmas, when his cat Simon became terminally ill, that the vegan ball really got rolling. DeRossi spent a lot of time with Simon—and a lot of time thinking about what he needed to do. Once he decided to act on his goal of pursuing more vegan projects, he didn’t look back.
“I’m more worried about my [conscience] and living without the weight on my shoulder of the damage I’m doing, and the suffering of animals,” says DeRossi.
While you digest that, here’s something else to chew on: If it’s going to be a while before you can get to New York, we’ve got a restaurant guide listing places around the country that have passed the PETA taste test. And if you’re the DIY type, check out our vegan recipes and vegan cocktails. We even know where you can get vegan wines.
Add candles, a linen tablecloth, and the fancy china, and you’ll be good to go.