By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jul 31, 2019 at 6:01 PM

Mainstream demand for plant-based cuisine has resulted in 2019 being declared "Year of the Vegan." Growth in flexitarian diets means plant-based alternatives have gained mass-market appeal, and even long-time meat-heavy markets like Milwaukee have seen exponential growth in access to vegetable-based fare.

This week on FoodCrush we chat with Melanie Manuel, chef-owner of Celesta, about the growth of vegan fare. Along the way, she shares her thoughts on restaurant ownership, the inspiration behind her approach to plant-based fare, her success in making vegan food accessible to customers and her thoughts on the increased popularity of plant-based proteins like the popular Impossible Burger.

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Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.