September 26, 2023

Adventist Church in Colombia Launches Vegan Restaurant in Bogotá

Leaders hope the facility will soon become a center of influence in the city.

Laura Acosta and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
More than 100 Seventh-day Adventist pastors and church members in Bogotá, Colombia, met for the inauguration of Green Food, a vegan restaurant, on September 5. [Photo: Upper Magdalena Conference]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Colombia recently inaugurated a newly renovated restaurant in the capital city of Bogotá. Dozens of church leaders and members toured the restaurant and sampled the healthy dishes on September 5.

Named Green Food, the restaurant’s focus on vegan dishes and healthy bites is part of the Upper Magdalena Conference’s strategy to highlight a healthy lifestyle with a spiritual ambiance, church leaders said.

“This launch is about the continual commitment of the Adventist Church here to promote wellness and conscious eating,” Roberto Carvajal, project director of the Upper Magdalena Conference of the Adventist Church, said.

The church opened the vegetarian restaurant 26 years ago in the same location, but after studying, refocusing, and restructuring it, conference leaders decided to invest funds to expand, renovate, and convert it into a vegan restaurant with gluten-free, lactose-free, and sugar-free offerings.

“For us as a conference it is very important to have developed this project because we want to eventually turn it into a center of influence where the entire membership in Bogotá can bring their friends,” Fredy Martínez, president of the Upper Magdalena Conference, said. “[We want them to] learn about living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy foods and learning more about God’s love.” Leaders are dreaming of expanding the space to include a healthy lifestyle center, he said.

Abner De Los Santos, vice president of the General Conference, and Roberto Herrera, stewardship director of the Inter-American Division, participated in the inaugural ceremony and congratulated the church leadership for the visionary healthy lifestyle impact that will make a difference in the life of the city.

Green Food Leaders

The restaurant is run by a married couple, Marta Zabala and Javier Villamarín, both vegan chefs.

“We want for everyone who visits the restaurant to learn what is the proper diet because sometimes it’s not about the quantity but the quality of food,” Zabala said. She has helped restructure the menu and incorporate diverse and nutritional flavors during the four months of the restaurant’s reconstruction and remodeling.  “The idea is for customers to find different options each day. We don’t generally repeat the menu,” Zabala added.

Green Foodoffers a buffet style menu, an à la carte menu, daily specials, and fast dishes like pizza, hamburgers, and desserts, Villamarín said. “God will help us encourage others to eat better,” he said. The restaurant is designed to have several spaces to promote family togetherness and spiritual enrichment, leaders said.

Villamarín shared his perspective about gastronomy and the mission behind the restaurant. “The truth is I like to do everything,” he said. “Some say that we are like the ideal couple, so we are always together, I am always helping her, adding flavors, creating dishes, innovating.”

In addition to focusing on culinary excellence, both see this project as an opportunity to carry out missionary work. “I really like the whole missionary emphasis. We are very united in that. We like to teach,” Villamarín added.

In just the few days that the restaurant has been running, customers have shared how much they love the food, Martínez said. “People say that this is the best vegan restaurant in Bogotá, and we are very proud of all the investment made in it and are excited about the message it carries with respect to the mission we must fulfill as a church body.”

The restaurant is the only church-operated restaurant in Bogotá. The dream is to have a full-time chaplain onsite every week as church leaders move forward to impact the lives of thousands of people in the coming months and years.

“This rebirth of this Adventist restaurant represents a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle, hospitality, and the mission to positively impact the community,” Carvajal said. “We want to continue being a center of influence and a space where we can daily share the values of love, health, and well-being.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.