Top 3 Favorite Vegan Restaurants

(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.

Pictured Below:

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.

Pictured Below:

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.

Pictured Below:

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!

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Dear Future President, I Need You

trump

Dear Mr. Trump,

Let me start off by saying I believe in you. It took me a long time to get to this place. After the election, I was quite puzzled, honestly. Too sad to cry, too heavy to feel. Praying for our country in a way I had never felt the need to before. No, our household did not vote for you. But that does not mean we’ve given up on our awesome country. I’d like to think there are people out there who may be wiser than me and if half of our voters think there is hope in you, I won’t be quick to judge. We reap what we sow and that also plays into how we invest our love.

I understand that as much as there are reasons for people to grieve, there is obviously a population that is rejoicing. I don’t condemn them, nor do I find their happiness invalid. I get that in this past season of history, there has been an unspoken group of marginalized individuals that us minorities like to find their stories petty. This doesn’t make them any less of victims to feeling true neglect from society. The rural whites whom have felt misjudged, underrated, and shoved under the rug while the urban city folk who know little to nothing about respecting their elders, killing their own food, or changing their own oil are the ones controlling the new media about religion and ethics, gun control, and taxes. Black Lives Matter has shed a new light on how to view whites in general, while having a black president during this time did not help in making these individuals feel like they owe something for the privilege on their skin. Few were to blame, but most weren’t. And all of this chaos mixed with a lot of miscommunication and poor sense of judgement and compassion in many has led to where we are now: a nation under fire.

Though the unfortunate circumstances that many of your supporters have had to face during President Obama’s terms are very real and very legitimate, the wrath that is upon the marginalized now is more vile and tragic than ever. There is a difference between not getting a tax break and feeling misrepresented by the liberal media, and having actual knives pointed at you because of your faith system or your sexual orientation (which, by the way, one cannot simply control or change). I’m not saying these scenarios are new, but I am saying that since the announcement of this year’s presidential election results, a drastic and dark shift has been made on our nation and there are people out here who truly feel unprotected, scared, and terrifyingly alone.

Many of your supporters are confused and upset that “the whiny democrats” are throwing riots and creating an illusion that our country is doomed. They want people to calm down, to stop trying to change what they cannot control, and to simply give up. I first need you to understand that I am not a violent person. I almost always believe that the more peaceful a transaction can go, the better. With that being said, I don’t know how anyone in these individuals’ situation wouldn’t go crazy with the circumstances that are upon them. Though it may seem like an exaggeration, this idea of a doomed life is the inevitable reality of many folks who call this place home. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but since yesterday there have been numerous cases of women getting their hijabs ripped off of their heads and being called unmentionable words. Imagine this is your mother, sister, or even your wife. Wouldn’t you want to do something dramatic so that maybe someone out there with a bigger voice can speak against the disgrace caused upon you and your loved ones? Some say it doesn’t matter at all how they’re treated because they’re “chicks.” To be frank, there have been some nasty remarks on how men can go about their bodies in general because of certain things you have personally done and said. (I understand that this was and is your private life, years ago… but here’s the thing: you’re going to be the president. Everything matters.) There are Mexican children being bullied to the corners of their schools by kids who’ve been spoon-fed ideals, thinking it is okay to tell their fellow classmates to “build a wall” for them. How would you like to hear that tragic tale from your own children or grandchildren as you await at the kitchen table from their day at school? Parents of gay and lesbian children are cautioning their kids not to expose who they really are in fear of unimaginable suffering, and even the most esteemed transgenders are conflicted in their value of life. No person should ever have to weigh the option of taking their own life for the sake of being accepted. For the sake of anything. My own mother who has been legally residing in this country and working her life away for the past 19 years is being scoffed at by new locals at the grocery store as they tell her to learn proper English or go home.

She is home. Or at least she thought she could call this place as such.

I get that there is a difference between the legal and illegal immigrants you’ve spoken about deporting.

I get that you believe you were simply having “light” locker room talk when speaking horrifically about women and their bodies.

I get that you are now having second thoughts about the promises you made regarding ejecting Muslims.

But not everyone whom have followed you can piece that together.

Many are still brewing up hate and loving it, thinking this is what their new president elect is about.

I understand that not every supporter of yours is closed-minded, that many of them chose you for the sake of being pro-life, getting out of debt, or not wanting a decorated liar in the Office. But with the way your campaigns have been ran up to this point, it has brought out a lot of people who’ve been waiting to run along someone who wouldn’t completely frown upon them for thinking certain thoughts about foreigners, women, homosexuals, and every other human on earth who isn’t exactly like them. People are truly, truly scared for their lives. Not necessarily because of what you as a president might do, but because of what the following whom you’ve created might believe and do in your name. The closet racists, sexists, and xenophobes are coming out, believing that they don’t have to feel shame in the awful things they believe about other human beings because they think you are here to back them up.

I need you more than ever, Mr. Trump. I need you to speak out.

I listened to your tone and your carefully selected words during the tired morning of November 9th as you humbly received Secretary Hillary Clinton’s concession. That’s just it — I never thought I’d use the term “humbly” when in reference to anything regarding you. Something about you switched. You no longer had the type of anger I always recalled you having. You didn’t have to put on this ugly mask of running a campaign anymore. You were simply grateful. You were finally being you. Yes, I have faith to believe that  you are so much more than arrogance, pride, and ego. I think it was dawning upon you what a joy and honor it will be to be this person you’ve always imagined. Whether I wanted you in this position is no longer important. I’d like to see more of this new man, Mr. Trump. I will be the first to willingly admit, I may have been wrong about you.

But I need you to defend this country.

I get that this population of folks who needed an unashamed leader was an easy target for you. Like you’ve said yourself, you are a businessman. You see an opportunity, you seize it. But I also have serious hope that you are so much more than what the media and the corrupt society has told me you are. You are a father, a son, a brother, a friend. And soon, you will be our 45th president of the United States. Things are different now. People are looking up to you to be a model for them, a spokesperson for their dreams, a hero for their young ones, a light for us to want to keep lit. You are going to be the president and that means so much more than being rich, powerful, and famous. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt that you will step up to the plate. But in order for me to personally feel okay to introduce children to the truth of this presidential term, I need them to have a president who embodies a true leader.

I need you to apologize for the things that have been said, the hurt that has been spilled, the pain that you have caused, whether or not you thought it would go this far. I am a Christian, Mr. Trump. And according to you, you say that you are, too. If this is true, I would assume that you know that the process of repenting and forgiving is crucial for growth for all involved. We need you to lead by example in the things that can still be managed. We’re all looking for something authentic, something genuine, something from the heart. I need you to be bold and break the loud silence of discrimination and hate. I need you to represent all of us.

Tell the ones who want to oppress the vulnerable that it is wrong. Say that you may have spoken without thinking in the past and have done things without wisdom. Apologize and admit for once in your life that you have made mistakes. Because, right now, lives are literally at stake. You’ve received what you’ve wanted. You’ve won the election. You no longer need to fool people. You are a person who is entitled to make misguided judgments, just like the next citizen. Show these people who think it is okay to spray paint swastikas on the walls of immigrants’ homes that this is not what you stand for. Be the man we hope you can be. Because right now, you have the perfect opportunity to prove me and so many others wrong.

We’re looking to you. We are all looking to you.

We need you, Mr. President Elect.

I need you.

With all due respect,

A Concerned Yet Hopeful American

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