Along with being the name of chef Carmen Foy’s vegan restaurant, Sprout & Lentil alludes to her inspiration for opening the Middletown business. A passionate animal rights advocate, Foy also named the two pigs she helped rescue a few years ago Sprout and Lentil.
“There were two runts that were discarded by a backyard breeder,” she explains. “I got a call from a young lady saying, ‘can you help?’ I ended up getting them to a micro sanctuary in Sherborn, Massachusetts, and they’re now living their best lives.”
When Foy has had a long day, she thinks about the two pigs as the “why” behind her hard work. A love of animals not only inspired her to adopt a plant-based lifestyle but also share it with her community in the form of delicious and innovative eats. Foy began Sprout & Lentil by selling prepared food – mostly soups and burgers – at farmers markets around Newport in 2018. Bolstered by the demand for her food, she opened the brick-and-mortar on Aquidneck Avenue with her husband, Matt Sole, in late 2019.
The pair was able to keep the restaurant running throughout the pandemic by focusing on take-out. “We just kept our heads down and kept working through it and actually grew our customer base during that time,” Foy recalls.
At Sprout & Lentil, diners can expect scratch-made vegan comfort food, including five different types of burgers: spicy black bean, sweet potato spinach, curry cauliflower, hearts of palm, and jackfruit. Also on the menu is a selection of vegan hot dogs, pizza, and sandwiches, plus baked goods. “My main goal is that my customers do not have any FOMO [fear of missing out],” Foy says. “I want them to feel as if they’re never going to miss out on things they gave up because they decided to move to a plant-based diet.”
Foy points out that not all of her customers are strict vegans; the restaurant also attracts those who are looking to reduce their meat consumption for health, animal welfare, or environmental reasons. “Often a meat-eater will come in with their vegetarian partner and say, ‘wow this is actually really good,’” Foy relays. “That’s kind of the goal: to offer things that everyone will like.”
Foy, now in her 50s, shares that she discovered her passion for cooking vegan food later in life. After spending her 20s and 30s working in the corporate world for companies including Mobil Oil and Pfizer, she became a private yacht chef. That work brought Foy, who grew up in upstate New York and Spain, to South Florida. While living there, she began rescuing dogs and cats, and then started saving other animals, including ducks, goats, and pigs.
“The more I connected with animals, it became impossible for me to ever cook traditionally again, so I had to figure out a way to
transition my skills,” she says. Foy and Sole, a former yacht captain, moved from Florida to the Newport area, where they owned a house they had been renting out. Around the same time, Foy attended an event where food was served, but none of it was vegan. Rather than let the experience defeat her, her frustration planted a seed for Sprout & Lentil – and it’s blossomed into a world of meat-free possibilities.
796 Aquidneck Avenue, Unit 3, Middletown
SproutAndLentil.com • 401-426-0500
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