In recent years there has become a notable increase and growing trend in those turning to a healthier lifestyle and diet, with veganism becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for varying reasons.  

Reno Ciantar, owner of Cayman’s first and only fully dedicated vegan restaurant, Bread & Chocolate, shared his insights, tips and health benefits of a fully vegan diet.  

How long have you been vegan and what made you decide to become vegan?  

I was vegan before I even knew what it meant which started when I was in university (1990-ish). It was when I found out lactose intolerance was a “thing” which explained why I had so many digestive issues at the time.  I just started paying better attention to what I was eating and excluded foods that disagreed with me and eventually became vegan through a long term process of food inclusion and elimination.  I’ve fallen off the train many times over the years but with my wife, Agata’s help, in addition to the clear health benefits, I became more in tune with the ethical and compassionate aspect of a plant-based lifestyle, so from that point, there was really no turning back.

What inspired you to open a fully vegan restaurant? 

Options were slim in Cayman when we first opened in 2013.  My wife and I had done a lot of travelling, discovering some amazing vegan food that we wanted to share, so we put together our Bread and Chocolate business plan.  

What would you say are the health benefits of being vegan?

In this day and age, I would hope that the health benefits would be obvious as the information is out there and readily available.  Movies like Game Changers help (highly recommend!), but I would like to think it is just common sense with the bonus being kinder to the planet.  What’s not to love?  There are good vegan diets and bad ones, so you have to really do your research.  Focus on spending most of your time shopping in the produce section and eat a fresh diverse range of fruits and vegetables to go along with your lentils, beans, grains, tofu etc., and minimise treats and processed foods.  I can say from my personal experience that a balanced vegan diet shreds pounds, greatly improves gut health, provides clean energy, and at 53 I really have never felt better.  I have been a runner most of my life and I have never lost a step as a vegan.  I run five or 10 kilometres and finish without being short of breath.  More importantly I seem to bounce back very quickly from any banging the road does to my joints, especially on longer runs.  Game Changers brings that point (inflammation and recovery time) into focus and it seems to be consistent with my personal experience.

Bread & Chocolate’s vegan version of a Big Mac.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming vegan? 

Do it!  It’s better for the planet, and it’s better for you.

However, I would suggest taking things one step at a time.  Do your research and make small steps to help you reach your goals.  Learn about where your food comes from and what it is doing to your body and the environment.  Ultimately you may have to unlearn what your perception of what food is supposed to be and become far more open-minded.   A vegan meal does not have to be a starch, vegetable, and a protein, but it certainly can be if that’s what you want (and what will help you get over the initial transition), but the possibilities, you will soon find, are endless!  In my experience variety, freshness and flavour is absolutely everything.  Lastly, I found that what made my transition permanent was the compassionate and ethical aspect of adopting a vegan lifestyle.  If your journey takes you to a place of kindness, caring about, and the preservation, of life then I think you will find your transition will be fulfilling and complete. 

To find out about Bread & Chocolate’s exciting daily specials, email to be included in their daily mail out!

Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8am-3pm and Saturdays 8am-2pm. 

Closed Sundays. Delivery available. Tel: 1 345 949 2272


By Juliette Heath

Juliette Heath is a Caymanian foodie, weddings and events planner, and author of children’s books.