HEALTH-conscious people can now breathe a sigh of re-leaf. A new restaurant in this restaurant-rich city caters to a growing segment of individuals with weird habits that include 1) walking many yards to look for the “right” restaurant, 2) picking at their food to make sure that there is no meat hidden there, 3) asking the waiter annoying questions about ingredients, and 4) being at home among cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, fruit bats, and a few amphibians.

These odd humans are also known as vegans. Vegans differ from vegetarians in that vegans strictly abstain not only from meat but also from other animal products such as eggs and dairy. In other words, they do not eat anything with a mother.

Those who experience the pure joy of biting into a hamburger, or the ecstasy of that moment when a spoonful of divine leche flan meets the tongue, might think that life is hell without steak and cheesecake, do not appreciate the paradise that is a stable blood pressure, a lower cholesterol level, and a guilt-free conscience.

Welcome to Vedge Health Hub, a “no MSG, no dairy, no eggs” restaurant that meets the challenge of providing vegans delicious restaurant food without violating their dietary commitments.

Vedge opened in October 2016 with the concept of offering exciting vegan food using innovative recipes. Vedge’s “mayonnaise,” for example, is made of tofu, while “parmesan” is from cashew nuts.

One of the business partners of Vedge, Chenchen Au, suffered from a high cholesterol level despite her young age and slim figure. This prompted her to go vegan from just being a vegetarian. Genetics plays a significant role in health and one cannot be too careful.

Vedge Health Hub has 17 items on its menu that includes starters, salads, pasta, burgers (uh-huh), and rice meals.

In the way of drinks, Vedge has 10 and this includes smoothies made creamy, by the way, with bananas to replace milk. Dishes are regularly-priced and to demonstrate this, here are the items I had at one serving per order. Hint: these can be shared, the sneaky devils.

The Fiber Boost Smoothie (P88) has beets and chia seeds. This is so filling and makes for a convenient breakfast-on-the-go when one is pressed for time. The Thai Spring Rolls cost P75 for two vegetable rolls in the clear wrapper. This is spicy, but, of course.

There’s the Nori Burger (P99) which is a purely vegetable patty with shredded nori (seaweed sheet) served in a bun. Interesting flavors here are a smear of basil pesto and a dash of kimchi catsup. If you prefer rice, have the Veggie Bulgogi which is a topping of veggie-meat, sliced shiitake mushrooms, garbanzo beans, sliced beans on a firm mound of red rice, P99. Last, is their Mushroom Chicharon which seems to be a rising trend among restaurateurs. Whole oyster mushrooms trimmed of their stems (P95) dipped in a batter and fried for that sound effect we so love in cracklings.

If you are in the neighborhood, you might want to drop in and get freshly baked bread supplied by the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center (BAMC). Vedge Health Hub is open every day except Saturdays because the business owners are Adventists.

Going meatless is not really difficult. After all, it is a lifestyle choice. I, for one, am a pesco-ovo vegetarian and allow rare occasions to eat red meat at parties. I am never overweight. In fact, gaining weight is the problem.

Chenchen the vegan does not look deprived at all with her glowing complexion. To see her, drop by Vedge Health Hub at the ground floor of the VSB Building by the 6th St. entrance. It is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Fridays. If you are a heavy meat-eater, don’t feel ba-a-a-a-d. It is never too late for a lifestyle change. Now, moooove it!