Cambridge, MA– Whether it’s borne out of a personal set of ethics or health concerns, more Americans are now turning to a vegan-based lifestyle. A 2018 data commission conducted by Nielsen revealed a 20 percent surge in plant-based food product sales in 2017 alone, bringing the revenue of vegan foods in the U.S. to over $3.3 Billion. And if you thought it was simply a niche market, think again. Celebrity endorsements of vegan lifestyles from the likes of Paul McCartney, Peter Dinklage and Wu-Tang Clan’s irrepressible Bobby Digi… er, RZA, have featured prominently in social media campaigns from PETA and other advocacy organizations. It seems going vegan is as much a big business as fast food or retail apparel.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will catch on like wildfire. A 2018 poll from Gallup indicated only 3 percent of Americans self-identify as vegan. Locally, the market for plant-based lifestyles has been historically isolated to a handful of retail stores and isolated outposts. It’s not that Bostonians aren’t conscious of the health implications of eating meat or concerned about humane treatment of animals. It’s just that radical changes in diet have never particularly been part of the culinary DNA of the Commonwealth.
But with the successful introduction of items such as the coveted Impossible Burger into the local mindset, as well as the expansion of local menus to embrace formerly specialized dietary requests, the question many residents might wonder is what’s next? Beer gardens?
Local restaurant Rewild answered that previously in October of last year when they opened up a moderately successful pop-up beer garden in downtown Quincy, replete with a fully vegan menu of… well, typical beer garden fare. But due to an obscure clause in local permit issues as well as city development efforts, the restaurant was only granted a temporary license, and a further caveat that alcohol could only be sold on the weekends limited the business of what could have been a virtual mecca for the thousands of Massachusetts residents who had grown tired of limiting their choices to a marginally small number of predominantly Asian restaurants in the state.
Now, owners Pat McAuley (who also co-founded Weymouth’s Barrel Z Brewery in 2016) and Marissa Hughes are seeking to establish Rewild in a more historically comfortable environment: Central Square in Cambridge.
The proposed site of the expanded Rewild would be a 4,700 square foot lot located on the grounds of the former Cambridge Community Television studios at 675 Massachusetts Ave, complete with an outdoor patio, the same plant-based “impossible pub grub” menu from last summer, and space for local art exhibitions and musicians.
McAuley, who refers to Rewild as “social plant-based dining,” was inspired to turn to a vegan lifestyle out of health concerns over three years ago. He started the Rewild concept after noting there was no such thing as a vegan brewpub in Boston. Or anywhere in America, for that matter.
“I realized that as a regular Boston dude, there was no vegan place to eat in a way that didn’t feel like you were walking into a juice bar,” McAuley told Boston magazine at the time. “The goal was to make it approachable to everyone, and to make it a place where you can eat without any real stigmas.”
Rewild is hoping to raise $200,000 for their proposed $2 Million relaunch in Cambridge via a Kickstarter campaign by June 6th. As of February, the original location in Quincy appears to have closed indefinitely.
For more information, visit https://eatrewild.com/
Image via Kickstarter