Imagine There's No Lamb Chop
Thursday, June 25, 1998
If you''re trying to substitute zucchini for lamb, it''s guaranteed that imagination will be the biggest ingredient in every recipe. And while you''re not ever going to talk somebody into squash if they''re licking their chops for lamb, when it comes to improving your relationship with the lower end of the food chain, the reasons are too many to ignore. For bagel mogul Bill Leone, it was learning that he needed to change his diet that prompted an interest in vegetarianism. In fact, he''s become so infatuated with the idea that he''s putting together plans for a new vegetarian restaurant.
There''s a surprise twist to the story. Bill Leone still enjoys meat--on occasion. And, interestingly, his health problems kinda started with--er, bagels. "I still eat bagels," Leone laughs, "just not as many as I used to. I have what''s called gluten enteropathy, a sensitivity to gluten. What happens is that the body becomes unable to absorb nutrients, similar to lupus," he explains. After almost 10 years of feeling sort of lousy, Leone was diagnosed by a local physician, Dr. Abraham Kryger, a noted authority on vegetarianism who specializes in preventive medicine. Long story short, Leone feels great and is embarked on a new set of goals to complement his new lease on life.
It''s almost a case of history repeating itself. "In the beginning, we started with the belief in healthy, high-quality food for a low price," Leone recalls. Launching their first Bagel Bakery in 1976, River Gurtin and Leone charted a course that provided a fast-food alternative to burgers and fries. Twenty-two years later, seven stores now serve what''s become a regular habit among MoCo noshers. "I don''t want to go through another 20 years of all that goes into developing a multi-million dollar business. I''ve already done that. My idea is to get enough people together with enough time, talent and capital to form a corporation," says Leone.
And with a different set of corporate objectives. "Having been in the restaurant business, I have a sense that this is an idea whose time has come. I was recently in New York City and I dined at a vegetarian place called the Zen Palate," Leone recounts. "Now, New York isn''t really known as a healthy place to live, but there''s five or six of these restaurants there now. My thought was that the concept would really be a propos to Monterey--to create a place to serve, first and foremost, as a vegetarian restaurant offering healthy food at a low cost, and secondly as an information center to show people the impact that vegetarian foods can offer to the health of the community and the environment."
The unhappy truth is that it requires 2,500 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain to create a pound of beef. It''s also reported that half of all the antibiotics that are manufactured are fed to farm animals, data that''s served up with all sorts of scary implications.
However, for those of us who aren''t quite ready to embrace the strictures of vegetarianism, hold we must to the mantle of moderation. And Leone agrees. "It''s not an all-or-none situation. It''s just a matter of cutting down what you consume, going from a diet of 70 percent animal products to 30 or 10 percent that can make a huge difference both to our health and the environment''s." cw