(Usual blog readers, this one’s strictly on the fun that is vegan foods. Just a cordial fyi.)
I get asked time to time how Corey and I find things to eat when going out.
Well, I’m so excited to share with you!
For starters, it really isn’t that hard. I know there are extreme vegans out there who will be quick to shut you down with our “philosophy” (and for that I do apologize), but there are people like us who… I guess, really enjoy food, and different types of it! The reason most of you have that restrictive assumption when thinking about the vegan culture is because there are obviously individuals whom have chosen the plant-based “diet” (I really need to find a better word for that because I don’t mean it as a weight loss program, I literally just mean what we eat) for different reasons. Without getting too into detail, there are individuals whom have chosen this path simply for the sake of caring for our earth and fellow creatures. So, yes, unhealthy/overweight/unbalanced vegans can most definitely exist if they aren’t necessarily concerned about the breakdown of the food, rather just the ethics behind it. There are also those whom have found a great deal in living the healthiest life possible and that not only means being plant-based but being particular within such boundaries. There are those who are HCLF (High Carb Low Fat), WSLF (Whole Starch Low Fat), there are those who won’t consume any oils (fat), there are those whom are raw (no cooked foods), and there are Average Joes like me… who have found numerous beneficial effects from choosing this lifestyle, but won’t limit so strictly on our habits because there is more to life than harsh black and white rules.
With all of that being said, there are definitely options when going to your average restaurant. Yeah, sometimes I might have to become that person I used to judge who will have to be choosy when it comes to the what-about’s in a wrap or excluding a condiment in a sandwich, but it is so feasible. Being plant-based really needs to get out of this stigma we are in of being “difficult.” (Maybe also then, would the vegan culture look like we are encouraging instead of condescending.)
I can make a list of my favorite vegan foods to choose within your everyday eateries another time. But for today, I’ve decided to enlighten y’all my my top three favorite restaurants that offer 100% plant-based foods! Yes! These places exist! Also, more exciting news: A friend of mine recently shared with me that there is actually an app out there (please comment below if you know what it is because the name is slipping from my memory!) that can help you locate vegan restaurants/pubs/breweries! But for real, you don’t have to suffer in bland salads and mono-colored smoothies! What a joke that would be! Do you know how much of a foodie I am? I think eating and cooking are some of the BEST ways to explore and indulge in life; I would never encourage something that limits such experiences and joys.
I have listed below both the menu links as well as what Corey and I have ordered during our most recent visit.
Let the drooling begin.
3. Native Foods Cafe | Denver, Colorado
This place made me a believer of “vegan cheese.” I know, I know, it can get annoying when foods are labeled as items they are obviously not, but I do find it helpful and cute that places like these have gone out of their way to recreate dishes for both vegans and non-vegans to enjoy, discover, and ultimately embrace new horizons of how food can be. The nice thing about Native Foods is they are located in a handful of places around the United States, so do a little research and see if there is one near you that you could venture to! I loved how their walls were splattered with so much encouragement on leading a healthy lifestyle, being creative, and loving the community. It really helps to know that your food was prepared by a heart that cares for the bigger picture.
Avocado Kale Cheese Dip with Corn Tortilla Chips
Reuben Sandwich made with Seitan and Cashew Horseradish Cheese
Lemon Dill Potato Salad
(& we also ordered their Peanut Butter Parfait… but obviously ate that up too quickly.)
You can find their menu here.
2. Next Level Burger | Bend, Oregon
I know that there have been amazing rumors about this new “Impossible Burger” that is exclusive to those in NY and LA, but until I find the courage to go back out into those wild cities, Next Level Burger will tie me over just fine when it comes to my good ol’ burger and fries craving. They are the definition of commitment. Their tables, the paint on their walls, their utensils, their lightbulbs, everything basically in reach within their venue has been and intentionally chosen and has been done so with the most compassionate decision-making mindsets. Corey and I have only been there once since moving out here but we are so excited to go back to try their dogs, brats, and other sandwiches! I know some non-vegans wonder why vegans go vegan if we enjoy these “animal foods.” Truth is, we also are knowledgable on what goes in them and what hazard it has done to our bodies. So, yes, every now and then these splurges happen. And the best thing about it is that we no longer have to be concerned about how it will negatively effect us, or the planet around us. Yes, we have cravings; vegans aren’t robots.
The All-American Burger made with Tempeh and Egg-Free Mayo
Bleu BBQ Burger made with Umami Mushroom and Quinoa
Oil-Free Baked Crinkle Fries & Tots with Organic Ketchup
and for dessert, Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup Shake made with Coconut Milk
You can find their menu here.
1. Zeal | Boulder, Colorado
Yep. This place is hands-down my #1 favorite. I mean, c’mon, they call themselves, “Zeal: Food for Enthusiasts.” COULD A PLACE BE MORE FOR ME?? No, not their entire menu is plant-based, but they are super great about sourcing all of their produce, their plants, their water, EVERYTHING from upright places. Also, important side note: I never believed in “cauliflower wings” until Zeal. Or “vegan ranch”. Or “raw cheesecake”… Or anything so many other recipe books would try to scheme me into believing as far as deceiving my tastebuds go. They’re as real as you can get as far as ingredients go, and their name boldly embodies who they are. The people are so passionate about caring for and nurturing our earth, our own bodies, and each other. There is a… ZEAL (seriously, lacking words but not hating it) that is so contagious when you step inside. Their menu is ridiculously creative and, though it may not seem like it, that coconut curry bowl looking thing Corey ordered was the best thing I have ever tasted (sorry, Mom). I honestly thought… why is something so simple the most invigorating thing in my mouth ever? Would donate personal monies to have them build another one closer to me. Honest.
Cauliflower Wings with Lemon Tahini
Vegetable Rainbow Curry
Plant Burger (in a collard green wrap)
and for dessert, Two Chocolate Shakes (yep.)
and their Raw Cheesecake (…that was CRAZY good, for real. You non-vegans out there, I dare you to take a bite of this and accept the fact that it was and is HEALTHY. YEAH! That can be your life! No shame or guilt for eating CHEESECAKE!)
You can find their menu here.
I hope these posts can be encouraging to you, especially those of you who are curious of innovative ways to improve your health but aren’t certain on how to go about that when there are so many lies and manipulations thrown at us from every which way. Eating plant-based has allowed me and my household to remember what it means to thoroughly ENJOY food, having zero embarrassment in grabbing seconds, thirds, even, and realize that a huge part of knowing who and how we are is knowing what we are putting into our bodies.
Do you have any places worth recommending? Please do! I am always in need of more places to experience when I am on the road with Imogen Works! Let this sister know!