To begin, I figure I should let it be known that a vegan is someone who does not consume (eat, purchase, wear, etc) anything that comes from animal. That means no meat/poultry/fish, no butter, no eggs, no gelatin, no leather, no wool... I think you get the point. Needless to say, this is easier said than done, but over the years I've embraced this lifestyle as a way to care for myself, the animals, and the planet.
Secondly, some stats: 1. Yes, my real name is Sky. Hippie parents. 2. I am married to an omnivore (sad but true). 3. I have next to zero close friends who are vegan. 4. Contrary to some beliefs about vegans, I shower daily. I do, however, have dreadlocks, occasionally hug trees, and eat only organic produce (at least at home). Oh, and yes, I drive a Prius. 5. I am very rarely preachy about veganism, though I may let some of it out on the blog. Consider yourselves warned. 6. I adore San Francisco and all its (thousands of!) dining opportunities.
Thirdly, I'd like to list my favorite all-vegan restaurants just to get it off my chest. This blog will mostly focus on dining in non-veg establishments, but these are some places everyone should try at least once in their lives.
In SF: 1. Millennium Fine dining, casual atmosphere, great wine list, food to die for. It's the best of the best. It's easy to lay down some serious cash at this place, but it is oh-so worth it. 2. Herbivore Awesome food in generous portions for not much money. With a few locations to choose from, you can't really go wrong. The service is sometimes spotty, but I've never eaten a bad meal here. 3. Cafe Gratitude Now would be a good time to mention that I was a raw foodist for 2.5 years. This place, however, stands up regardless of your dietary preferences. It's amazing what one can do without heating food about 114, and at C.G. the tastes really shine. You will, however, have to get past the fact that all menu items are affirmations. Want guacamole and flax chips? Say, "I am honoring." Pretty cheesy by my standards, but I got over it. 4. Cha-Ya Oh my god, is this place good. I love veggie sushi, and being able to eat it in a place that doesn't reek of fish is fantastic. Plus, the flavors are incredible. I never have a problem convincing my omnivorous friends to join me here.
Okay there are lots more and maybe I'll mention them later, but let's head to other parts of the nation, just for fun.
In NYC: 1. Caravan of Dreams This is the cutest place and I can't help but love it. Steps below 6th Street, this tiny space is complete with homey accents and chalkboard specials. It's New York, so you'll pay a bit more that other towns, but I think it's totally reasonable. Plus, they have an extensive raw menu, and they make kick-ass smoothies too. 2. Quintessence Another hold over from my raw days, but they have the best raw burger (the "Big Moc") ever. Not nearly as heavy and nut-laden as other raw burgers I've had. Yum. 3. Counter Vegan and biodynamic wine is another favorite thing of mine, and this place has a wine list that makes me swoon. So much so that I can forgive the fact that this place is merely vegetarian and not all vegan. The vegan offerings are severely delicious though, and the ambiance is sophisticated yet welcoming.
Again, so many more in NYC, but let's move on:
In LA: 1. Real Food Daily I flock to this place like Mecca whenever I'm in L.A. One word - nachos. I can't even bring myself to think about the other LA restaurants right now because I'm salivating too much.
In Portland: Portland is vegan heaven, and there are way too many great vegan places to name them all, so I'll just give you my favorite - Blossoming Lotus Cafe. Try the monk bowl for a healthy and filling meal, but don't forget to save room for the organic vegan soft serve ice cream. Yes, you read that right. Like I said, heaven.
At the Jersey Shore, baby: Being a jersey girl who goes "home" pretty frequently, I'll be sure to talk about dining experiences in my beloved Garden State, but one of the yummiest vegan breakfast spots in all the land is at Kaya's Kitchen in Belmar. Lunch and Dinner are pretty fantastic too, but if you want some fluffy vegan pancakes and waffles, you won't be disappointed.
Well I don't know about you, but I'm hungry and off to scrounge up some dinner. I look forward to recounting my dining discoveries as time goes on, so stay tuned for my musings on actually eating with the "others" coming up soon!