Famous California vegan restaurateurs under fire over revelation they eat meat

The California-based husband and wife founders of celebrity-endorsed vegan restaurant group Cafe Gratitude say they have received death threats after it was revealed last week that they are raising, slaughtering and eating animals on their farm north of San Francisco. (Gasp!)

Matthew and Terces Engelhart, both in their sixties, who opened the first Cafe Gratitude in 2004 and whose celebrity followers have included Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyoncé and Sacha Baron Cohen, countered the firestorm of criticism with a defense of the “regenerative agriculture” methods they now use on their Be Love Farm in Vacaville, calling it a personal choice made in the privacy of their home.

We started to observe nature and what we saw is that nature doesn’t exist without animals,” says Matthew Engelhart about his “transition” into meat products after nearly 40 years of vegetarianism.

People have taken up the mob mentality,” he opined, after protestors gathered outside their restaurants holding signs such as “no animal is grateful to die.”

Meantime, none of this seems likely to mollify the outraged vegans and it is unclear how this will affect the Engelhart empire, which serves 28,000 meals a day.

Photographs: Alex Vasilescu/Getty Images (top); Adithya Sambamurthy for the Guardian (bottom)