Memphis Restaurateur Goes Vegan

For South of Beale owner, Edward Cabigao, February 1st isn’t just a reminder to begin planning for Valentine’s Day; It marks his “Vegan Anniversary.” Two-and-a-half years ago, the 33-year-old restaurateur committed to changing his diet and bettering his health. When starting this lifestyle change, Ed weighed in at 225 pounds and often felt sluggish and low on energy. “The first week was rough since my body was adjusting, but from there things improved.” Over the next eight months, he whittled himself down to 180 pounds, with minimal physical activity.

One year into eating vegan, Ed took up running. After his first five miles, he was hooked on the sport. Since then he’s completed several half marathons, including the recent Greenline Half Marathon. He’s lost an additional 20 pounds after upping his fitness. Ed runs five times a week—a mix of short, long, and intervals. He also cross trains twice per week. “This really has been a lifestyle change and not a diet,” he says. “I’m healthier and more active than I have ever been in my life.”

On a typical day, Ed eats oats with bananas and blueberries for breakfast. Snacks consists of nuts and smoothies throughout the day. He lunches on a big bowl of grains, vegetables, and sometimes tofu. Dinner is usually a large salad with raw vegetables.

Inspired by his commitment to a healthier lifestyle, Ed and his wife, Brittany, have opened Zaka Bowl at 575 Erin Drive in East Memphis. It’s a fast casual restaurant where patrons can put together their own veggie bowls. “I wanted to open a restaurant that would be healthy, but not intimidating,” he says. People can choose from different grains, vegetables, hot garnishes, cold garnishes, and house made sauces.

Ed has also made small changes to the menu at South of Beale, a gastropub serving new American cuisine. It now features seasonal vegetarian options and almost all of their sides can be made vegan.

By Christin Yates. Photos by Philip Murphy.

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