Published on March 26th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Diana Edelman On Las Vegas Living, Being An Entrepreneur & Running The “Vegans, Baby” Blog
A prolific writer, award-winning blogger and a noted public relations professional, Diana Edelman is working on a lot of different projects at any given time. Now based in Las Vegas, Edelman is the founder of the popular blog Vegans, Baby, which provides vegan-friendly content about Vegas. In turn, as Edelman has a lot of knowledge about local culinary offerings, she is the author of the recently-released Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide 2018. Edelman also makes time to host local events, including the vegan dining month known as Veganuary, which brings together dozens of local vendors.
While this Hype Magazine contributor is not a vegan or a vegetarian, he is very intrigued by a creativity-oriented entrepreneur that can make a difference in their local scene. Edelman’s contributions to Vegas are undoubtedly recognized by locals — she also provides consulting services for restaurants to extend their outreach to the vegan community — and continue to make an impact on a daily basis. More on Edelman and her various projects can be found online at www.vegansbaby.com.
What brought you out to Las Vegas?
Diana Edelman: Well, this is my third time in Las Vegas; I credit wanderlust and the old desire to run when things got unhappy as the reasons I left the first two times. This third time I came here because it felt like the right thing to do. I had been living abroad for almost four years and wanted to come home. The city that felt closest to a real home for me that was in the U.S. was Vegas. Since I’d lived here previously and had friends and a network here, and was in a far better place mentally than I’d ever been, I decided the third time would be the charm.
When you first moved out to Vegas, were you vegan?
Diana Edelman: The first two times, no. The third, I was transitioning as I moved. Vegans, Baby was in the back of my mind when I decided to come home, and I knew as soon as I arrived back to the States, I would become vegan because there wouldn’t be any barriers to making the transition back in a place where I speak the language and can effectively communicate. For example, when I lived in Madrid, I told them I was vegetarian and didn’t eat meat and was served an eggplant sandwich with ham. When I questioned it and reminded them I didn’t eat meat, the server shrugged his shoulders and informed me it wasn’t meat, it was jamon.
Who or what initially inspired you to go vegan?
Diana Edelman: I spent almost three years living and working in elephant conservation in Thailand — 2012 through the end of 2014 — and was exposed to a lot of horrific realities not only elephants endure, but also the realities of animals in captivity and being used for food. I was returning one afternoon from the elephant sanctuary I worked at and saw a truck filled with pigs being taken to slaughter and decided then and there I’d never eat meat again. The move to vegan took a few years, and I was inspired not only by the people in my life who were vegan, but also because I finally made the connection that I can’t work with animals and love them and still consume them or their byproducts.
Are there any foods you miss from your pre-vegan days?
Diana Edelman: I thought I would, but honestly, anything that I ate in my pre-vegan days can be veganized and taste delicious. For example, pizza was a staple in my diet. Staple. That was the hardest thing for me to let go of, but the options for vegan cheese these days are incredible and you can toss some on. My favorite is NUMU, which is about to make it’s move from local New York to the rest of the U.S. — or just load up on spices and veggies and have some incredible pizza without missing dairy cheese.
Vegans, Baby is Vegas-centric. Are there plans to launch other city guides or cities?
Diana Edelman: Yes! Right now, I travel and put together small vegan guides to other cities and feature them on my site under “Guides,” but my goal is to expand Vegans, Baby to other smaller market cities where the vegan scenes are just starting to take shape. I feel that Vegans, Baby has really helped push Las Vegas along in terms of restaurants finally understanding the depth of the vegan and plant-based consumers out there. As a result, they have begun to expand their offerings and cater more towards us. I’d love to be able to serve as a catalyst in other markets, too.
You penned the Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide 2018. How long did it take to put together?
Diana Edelman: Aside from two years of dining out — and continuing to do so in order to keep Vegans, Baby up-to-date and serve as the definitive resource for vegan dining in Las Vegas — it took probably about a month of compiling, reviewing, scouring photos and editing to get the first edition wrapped. The second edition — things change so rapidly in Vegas and I wanted to make sure people were getting true value from the guide — took a lot of time, too.
Has Las Vegas always been vegan-friendly? Or has it become more vegan-friendly in recent years?
Diana Edelman: There were some early adapters here, but it really has only become truly vegan-friendly the past five or so years. In the past year, the scene here has grown dramatically. When I moved back from Spain, we had about five or six restaurants that were all-vegan. It’s more than doubled since then and there are a lot more restaurants now reaching out to me to assist them in going vegan and reaching the vegan audience, and ultimately, adding vegan menus to their offerings. It’s my goal with Vegans, Baby to make it easy to be vegan here and to show how vegan-friendly the city is.
What do you wish more people knew about Vegas?
Diana Edelman: So many things! There is an incredible community of people here and the city is so dynamic and passionate. Las Vegas is so much more than The Strip and the tourist attractions — it’s a place people live and thrive.
Most people seem to think that Vegas is just the main strip, much like tourists think of Times Square when they first go to New York. Are there any spots you can recommend indie-minded Vegas visitors go to?
Diana Edelman: I am a huge fan of the Arts District Downtown. It’s currently getting a facelift, but there are some great restaurants and bars there, along with some vintage stores, which I love. Also, Fremont East area is wonderful. We’ve also got some breweries popping up where you can sip craft beer, the Las Vegas Distillery and even a winery. If you’re a fan of the outdoors, Vegas has some gorgeous places. I love to go to Mt. Charleston — its perfect temperature’s in the summer when the Valley is baking — Red Rock Canyon, and the breathtaking Valley of Fire.
Website and book aside, any other projects that you are working on? And can talk about?
Diana Edelman: I’m always working on events in Las Vegas and bringing attention to restaurants that are working to reach the plant-based scene. I just started the initial planning for Veganuary Las Vegas 2019. I launched the city’s first month-long vegan dining event this January, and had about 20 restaurants participate and offer special vegan dishes and donate a portion of the proceeds to a local animal organization. The international Veganuary organization runs a month-long vegan challenge every January. I’ve also got a few other things I’m working on and will be talking about soon.
When not busy with food, how do you like to spend your free time?
Diana Edelman: Honestly, as someone who is self-employed and has their hands in so many projects, there isn’t that much free time. I think I suffer from Entrepreneur Guilt — if that’s not a phrase yet, I’m coining it — it’s the feeling when you have free time, you should be doing something, anything, to keep going. I try really hard to have boundaries though, so I work hard to keep my weekends for me to spend with friends, get outside and write. I’m working on a memoir right now about my travels around the world and working with elephants.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Diana Edelman: The Vegas Strong Benefit Concert in December.
Finally, Diana, any last words for the kids?
Diana Edelman: Live kindly, compassionately and passionately. And when you’re ready to make the jump to vegan life, let me know. I’m always here to support anyone interested!