Furious vegans have made death threats against the founders of a chain of renowned vegan restaurants in California after discovering that they had begun eating meat and were raising animals for slaughter on their farm.

Matthew and Terces Engelhart had previously enjoyed a rarefied level of acclaim among vegan foodies for their influential Café Gratitude, which has drawn celebrities including Beyoncé, Jay Z, Sacha Baron Cohen and Gwyneth Paltrow, to its Los Angeles branches with its “organic, plant-based dining” and New Age ethos.

“People have taken up a mob mentality,” Mr Englelhart told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the internet-led campaign against him and his wife had included death threats as well as a stream of one-star reviews of their restaurants and small protests.

“It saddens me that the choices we made in the privacy of our home would lead people to feel so betrayed that it’s elevated to threats on our lives. I’m very discouraged.”

The outrage began when blog posts written by the Engelharts more than a year ago resurfaced. In them they announced their “transition” to meat-eating after 40 years of vegetarianism.