Green’s Damon Brasch wants to bring vegan comfort food to the masses

If Morgan Spurlock, the guy who made Super Size Me, ever decides to do a sequel, I've got the restaurant for him.

A month of splurging on s'mores sundaes, spicy buffalo wings, burgers, and fries would surely expand his waistline as quickly as a diet of Big Macs and Egg McMuffins.

Spurlock would have a lot more options here than at McDonald's. The menu at this place reads like a round-the-world trip in guilty pleasures, from flatbread pizzas to kung pao chicken to a Texas po-boy oozing with luscious espresso barbecue sauce.

Jamie Peachey
Jamie Peachey

Location Info

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Green

2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 8
Tempe, AZ 85281

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Tempe

Green

2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 8
Tempe, AZ 85281

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Tempe

Details

Green, 2240 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 8, Tempe, 480-941-9003 »web link
That's A Wrap, 2022 North Seventh Street, Phoenix, 602-252-5051 »web link
The Center Bistro, 21 East Sixth Street, Suite 114, Tempe, 480-491-5591 »web link

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While eating this food constantly would likely pack on some pounds and, perhaps, push up your cholesterol levels, you'd still be on one of the strictest food regimens around. At Green, a funky two-year-old bistro tucked in the corner of a north Tempe strip mall, the sundae is soy, and the buffalo wings are mushrooms. The burger is ground oats and barley. The fries are still fries, though, because no animals are harmed in the deep-frying of a potato.

Everything Green serves is vegan — meaning it's not only meatless, but also free of milk, eggs, cheese, gelatin, or any other edible animal product.

Comfort food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you say the word "vegan," but this eatery aims to change that.

I'd eat there all the time if I lived a little closer — and didn't care about squeezing into my jeans. But, hey, if I'm gonna blow my diet, this place gives me plenty of reasons to splurge.


Green is the brainchild of 34-year-old chef Damon Brasch.

He also owns That's A Wrap, a sandwich and salad shop in Central Phoenix, and he created the menu for the recently launched The Center Bistro, an organic eatery housed inside a yoga center off Mill Avenue in Tempe.

Those two other restaurants are popular in their own right, with smart, appealing offerings — healthful salads and wraps in the case of That's A Wrap, and organic cuisine for The Center Bistro. But Green is a tour de force, one of those so-simple-yet-so-clever-I-wish-I'd-thought-of-it-myself concepts that comes along once in a lifetime, and makes a guy a millionaire. Brasch has made vegan food downright tasty.

Though the nonprofit Vegetarian Resource Group estimates that vegetarians make up only 2.3 percent of the total U.S. population — with vegans accounting for up to half of that — an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the population "seeks vegetarian options at least some of the time." According to a Mintel market research report, the U.S. vegetarian food market is expected to grow to more than $1.7 billion by 2010. And thanks to the influence of the Slow Food Movement, there's a growing demand for organic local produce.

But let's face it. There's a reason our nation is still the world's fattest. McDonald's sales were up almost 10 percent in February, and although the company recently launched a lower-calorie Smart Choice Program, Mickey D's isn't raking in billions by pushing apple slices and grilled chicken salads. It's the Big Mac that keeps them coming back. And someone's still ordering fries with that.

Brasch knows it. So he took his desire to cook good food, promote his own philosophies, and run a successful business — and he came up with Green.

Instead of going the light, health-conscious route with piles of rabbit food (although you can get a salad to go along with your deep-fried tofu and sweet peanut sauce), Green's menu capitalizes on our insatiable lust for fast food.

Apparently, omnivores aren't the only ones who get hungry for pepperoni pizzas, burgers, and deep-fried snacks, and the vegan versions don't seem to be much more healthful.

"A vegan who eats lots of fried foods, even if fried in what people refer to as 'healthy oil,' is still getting a lot of calories and fat," says Sharon Salomon, a registered dietician from Phoenix asked to study Green's menu. "Balance and moderation are key to any kind of diet."

There's actually an upside to frying foods in canola oil, as they do at Green; it's considered the most healthful edible oil, with high levels of unsaturated fats, very little saturated fat, and no cholesterol. (Cholesterol is found only in animal products, says Salomon. However, blood cholesterol levels can also be raised by certain kinds of saturated fat.)

But that doesn't mean you can gorge yourself with no consequence.

Maybe the pleasure centers in our brains are hard-wired for crispy and crunchy and gooey indulgences, no matter what the treats are made of. Last year, the results of a study at Tufts University suggested that it's common for people to crave foods that are high in calories.

Brasch is no dummy. If fried pita chips and chocolate chip cookies get people eating vegan, even on occasion, then so be it. He's more interested in saving animals than calories.

"Americans need to be stroked into it," he says of the vegan diet. "I want to eat healthy, too, but I'm not gonna go out of my way to eat sprouts if it doesn't taste good."

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16 comments
Work From Home
Work From Home

Great job done,very nice article.Brasch took his desire to cook good food, promote his own philosophies, and run a successful business.

used cell phones
used cell phones

Very nice restaurant for youngsters and children.....having more variety than any other restaurants...There are very few restaurants like this....

Katherine
Katherine

Thanks for showcasing my favorite restaurant! Sadly, I live far away from Green, but I make sure to stop by whenever I come back to my hometown. Their ice cream is especially amazing.

helentroy4
helentroy4

Damn.... I thought this was your april fools story. Excuse me while I go to my freezer and choose a porterhouse for the grill....

Stephanie
Stephanie

Great article - made me hungry and want to get myself to Phoenix! One thing of note however, a vegan restaurant will not add to your cholesterol load. Only animal foods contain cholesterol. So while it may not be fat free - it won't add to the workload of your Lipitor! : )

bill
bill

How come no mention was made of Veggie Fun, the humble vegetarian restaurant whose former location Green now inhabits? It seems like some credit is due to the nice Asian man who ran that place almost by himself in the absence of any trendiness or "buzz". He not only established the location as a place where people can go to get vegetarian food (albeit with significantly less appealing decor), but he also served versions of the Asian dishes that Green now serves (as well as soft-serve soy ice cream). Give him his due!

Tracy
Tracy

I was so excited to find this restaraunt while vacationing in AZ. We thoroughly enjoyed it and ordered a ton of food! It isn't easy being vegan on the road, so were really grateful to find such a great place. I hope to see one in MA soon!CrazyVeganMom.blogspot.com

Miss Fitzpatrick
Miss Fitzpatrick

Special thanks to the lovely Michele Laudig for profiling someone truly representative of the new vegetarian movement in the US. Although, we are not perfect, and there exists some level of hypocrisy in any way of life, the new vegetarian makes a sincere effort to positively change the environment around them starting with the internal. This lifestyle is often accompanied by misunderstanding, jeers and digs from peers, and savory temptations that make it easy to forget what one eats. Damon Brache and Austin Vickers are two exemplary Phoenicians who are not only changing the standard for what we put in our bodies and how we justify those choices in our minds, they are capitalizing on it. Long live �Damon Magic.� And, may it spread to other cities in America soon.

Sedona Cornville
Sedona Cornville

Eating a salad is vegicide. Save the carrots! Save the radishes!

Drake Northpine
Drake Northpine

While it certainly won't make me stop eating meat, the food is actually pretty decent.

Knish
Knish

What a fabulous place! How about opening one in Atlanta. My friends and I would be there constantly. Probably not good for the waistline, but great for the animals. Keep us posted with your openings around the country. And, for all you animal lovers out there, join the revolution.www.savetheknish.org

Matt Ball
Matt Ball

Thanks so very much for this informative article. Many people are horrified when they learn the hidden realities of modern agribusiness, but assume that being vegan means a life of deprivation. But places like Green, as well as new vegetarian meats (like Boca Burgers, Tofurky Deli Slices, Gimme Lean Ground "Beef" and "Sausage") show that this isn't the case. Each one of us can boycott factory farms and choose compassion -- and enjoy great food!

Christy L
Christy L

Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite restaurants! Green is a gem. It's refreshing to be able to eat everything on the menu AND not have it taste like cardboard. I've even brought staunch meat eaters to the restaurant and they loved it. My only gripe is that Green doesn't use environmentally sound products. Disposable forks, paper napkins, and Styrofoam cups really defeats the purpose of going veg for many people. Why contribute to the waste when there's such an opportunity to make a difference?

 
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