Donald Lemperle: Chef Goes Plant Based to Confront Cancer; Opens Vegan VegeNation Restaurant in Las Vegas, More
A visit to the doctor’s office changed Donald Lemperle’s life. With over 30 years as a chef and now restaurant owner, he has cooked in some of the best eating establishments in New York and beyond. About nine years ago he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. It is a form of bone marrow cancer.
After hearing the news, Chef Donald went in a new direction. He changed his entire diet by only eating things that are plant based. He also decided to change his work environment. In April of 2015, Chef Donald opened a vegan themed restaurant VegeNation in downtown Las Vegas. The healthy food establishment has received numerous accolades since opening. Last year, Las Vegas Weekly said it was the best vegan food in the entertainment capital of the world.
It is one thing to change a diet to improve your health. It is another to completely immerse yourself in a plant based lifestyle as your profession. His story shows us how one experience can change your life for the better.
You can read the highlights and hear Chef Donald’s entire CYInterview at the link below:
Listen to the entire Chef Donald Lemperle CYInterview:
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Speaking about how being diagnosed with multiple myeloma changed his diet and work life, Chef Donald Lemperle shared this:
“Well, approximately nine years ago I went to the doctor for a physical and when I came back, the results were from the blood test that my protein levels were very high. And the doctor said to me, ‘This could be some form of cancer and I’ll need to send you to an oncologist.’ So I went to the oncologist and doctor said, ‘Looks like you have beginning stages of multi myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood. So we said we’re gonna take a blood marrow biopsy on you and we’ll see what’s up.’ And they took a biopsy and the results came back of it that it was the beginning stages of multiple myeloma. So it wasn’t really a shocker because I was in my mid 40s and I still feel that my story wasn’t told.
So it made me very anxious and I kind of examined my lifestyle and some of the things was I went to a plant based diet. I just heard this theory that a lot of vegetables, a lot of green vegetables essentially add a lot of chlorophyll to the blood and the oxygen is an enemy of the cancer. So I changed my lifestyle, and kind of like, walked the straight line where I exercised and meditated and I stayed away from like diet sodas and sugar. I use to drink a ton of diet coke every day. …
I’m not saying that going to a vegan diet cured the cancer, but so it’s been nine years right now and it’s totally under control. Last time I was at the doctor he said I’m getting better without treatment. So I’m just gonna continue with it. I’m really passionate about it. I think our food system is badly broken, a lot of people make wrong choices, so I want to try and give them an option where they can come to my restaurant, eat some good food that tastes good hopefully and was good for you.”
His life changing experience made him see the food industry in a completely different light. It is what inspired him to open a planet based vegan restaurant in downtown Las Vegas called VegeNation. He is now surrounded, daily, by the food he has chosen for his own meals, every day at work:
“Our bodies are complex machines and in order for us to operate in the utmost fashions, you need to eat really good foods. To me it’s a no brainer, it’s common sense, but not too many people look at it that way. … I tried to find jobs where, you know, I could work in kitchens that just feature like a plant based diet, but there wasn’t, especially here in Las Vegas, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for that. So like I knew the only path was to open my own place and be able to complete my own vision by myself. …
The great thing about VegeNation and our menu is we like to call it a global cuisine where we use dishes from all over the world because all cultures have different varieties of Vegan dishes. So it really leaves like a wide open field and gives me a lot of time to have fun and experiment. … We’re a 100 percent plant based restaurant serving global foods that really makes you feel good. So this is a restaurant you can come to and really if you’re the biggest carnivore in the world, you can come in and feel satisfied and you know and you’re gonna feel good about it. So come down to Las Vegas and say hello please.”
There have been numerous studies about how a plant based lifestyle can improve one’s health. Mr. Lemperle agrees that a plant based diet has no doubt changed his life for the better:
“This is one of the greatest changes I’ve made in my life. I have a lot of energy. I feel good, I mean especially with a new restaurant. Every day I’m putting in 12, 13 14 hour days. So I have a lot of energy and I feel good. I’m able to wake up and recover well and go through the next day. So absolutely! I’m a firm believer in what you eat matters not only to yourself, but to the environment. To me it’s a win, win situation.”
One of our past CYInterview guests is celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck [see here]. This is Chef Donald’s Wolfgang story:
“When I initially started in the restaurant business in New York City, I was working at a hotel called the Berkshire Place and I was a breakfast cook opening the restaurant in the morning. So I came in one morning and there was a guest that got in the kitchen and they were trying to pry open one of the refrigerators, the walk in refrigerators. I mean he was really upset and almost trying to break the door down. And I said, ‘Hey! What’s going on?’ ‘I need to get my food. I need to get my food.’ In his German accent.
So I called security and they came down and later on the chef had told me that it was Wolfgang Puck. This was before he started the restaurant Spago. He was a chef at this restaurant Ma Maison in Beverly Hills, California and he came to New York and he was doing some kind of a food demonstration or something and he was friends with the chef. So he was staying in the hotel. So he was pretty cool.”
The photo of Chef Donald Lemperle used in this piece is credited to Barefoot Sanctuary.
You can find more information about the Las Vegas restaurant VegeNation at their official website clicking here.
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com
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