Thirty-one days and DONE! With the month of July coming to an end, I have to say its been a crazy ride. From challenging myself and going plant-based, badly cutting my hand (I now affectionately call the incident “avocadogate” but its apparently widely known as “avocado hand”…insert emoji slapping forehead), oh and some other instances that I’m not quite used to but adjusting to nevertheless. So I’m happy to say, with all that has occurred this month, I am quite happy to bid adieu to July. Although there was much to gain from all of my experiences, I have decided that I am dedicating this blog post to the things I am “letting go of” ( a recent “question of the day” from a restaurant I visited that coincidentally came to me at a most opportune time) in regards to the month of July and over the course of this diet evolution. I’ll also be including some fun insights at the bottom of this post from some new restaurants I’ve experienced over the last 31 days.
First, I must admit that I was a bit confused and somewhat torn when I initially, in essence, strapped on my hiking boots to begin this uphill journey towards the mountain of plant hood. I have realized as I navigate through this adventure that I cannot profess to being a vegan (oh sadness and despair fill my eyes) but this is a FACT, as I have not eliminated honey from my diet (although I don’t consume much of it anyway) and for the time being I have not omitted prior leather purchases from my wardrobe. Gasp I know! Eeks, please don’t call the PETA police! I do love animals but my choice to go plant-based was really due to the direction my diet was going in, the fact that I have a TON of food allergies, the “on trend” documentaries that have enlightened and inspired me to question my current eating habits since the beginning of the year, and because I like putting myself through new experiences and exploring new ways to improve my overall awesomeness. Ha! Yes, I did just say that but it was either that or some cliche spiritual “new age” mumbo-jumbo about the mind, body and spirit. So again, as usual, I digress but this all brings up a good point. I have a new question (yes, other than where’s my protein coming from) that plagues me these days. I’ve had multiple curious people ask me why I’ve decided to go down this extreme path towards eating only things that are plant-based and my response is really the following: it was a multitude of influences as well as health reasons that inspired me to change my current routine, to step outside the norm. I have noticed a difference in energy and overall a better feeling. So, if I’m reaping positive benefits from this change, then why not continue on this path, right?
I’ll admit, I went onto this trail with a helping hand, someone that inspired me as we helped give each other the extra nudge we needed to open ourselves to something new and challenged each other to do this diet change for at least 30 days (well, 31 to be exact). And, like all things, I took this new journey on like any other challenge I’ve willingly taken on in the past…with utter excitement and complete determination! Along the way, I’ve had to “let go” of that hand, do things on my own, make mistakes…for which I have learned from, and let go of a few other things along the way. For example, although not an everyday occurrence, seafood, charcuterie and cheese have been a slight struggle throughout this journey. Quickfix, unhealthy snacks have gone to the wayside along with tummy aches, heavy meals and a closed mind. I’ve let go of judgemental thoughts towards those individuals that are vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, etc. and become more open minded regarding the differences in peoples diets and what they themselves decide to put inside their bodies. I’ve also learned even more so, to let go of the opinions of others. The decision to go plant-based was for my body and no one else’s, so nothing can slow this explorer down.
Ultimately though, it really doesn’t matter who or what inspires you. What matters is that you’re being inspired. I’m lucky in the fact that, for every person that’s given me a bit of ridicule for turning plant-based, there has been someone who has given me inspiration, direction and encouragement. If we don’t question our current path, explore new opportunities and allow ourselves to be inspired, then how can we evolve? Whether it’s food or life in general, to those of you who push me every day (you know who you are), thank you for helping me navigate through this journey. I love your passion, recommendations, insightfulness and pure enthusiasm, which coincidentally tends to mirror my own. I will not be letting you go nor my new plant-based ways.
Now for the food portion of this post! Here’s a list of the resaurants I have tried thus far and how they have either adapted to fit my vegan tendencies or lived up to their expectations.
Shojin – a cute place in an unexpected location (a mall in DTLAs Little Tokyo district), this restaurant explores Japanese food with a vegan/macrobiotic twist. My favorite appetizer was the potato-like (because of the texture and the fact that it’s deep fried) gyoza, a sushi cut roll called Kiss of a Spider Woman and their desserts. Definitely worth going back to do a further exploration of their menu.
RICE -one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan Beach. If you live in Los Angeles you have many options as a vegetarian or vegan. But if you’re new to a plant-based diet and you used to love sushi then you’re bound to struggle struggle struggle. Now I’m not saying that you’re ever going to have anything that taste exactly like sushi but MAN, this one comes close. Get the dynamite cut roll, volcano and yellow brick road. Although the dynamite was and still is my favorite with its delicate texture and slight smokieness, I could/will go once or twice a week for their kabocha pumpkin. The spicy miso vegan ramen option was neither spicy nor a favorite of mine but I have high expectations when it comes to my noodle soups.
North Italia – although this restaurant does not tout itself as being vegan/plant-based, I felt compelled to add it to my list as they were so fabulously accommodating. Their pastas are all made in-house, without eggs and can be combined or adapted to whatever dish you like. I literally took one of their pasta dishes (the burrata tortelloni), told them to hold the cheese and added mushrooms, spinach and pine nuts. It was amazing to say the least. Especially since I hadn’t had a pasta dish like this since becoming plant-based. They also mentioned that they can adapt any salad and can make pizza without cheese (although if you are vegan, I would like to mention that they do use honey in their pizza dough).
Veggie Grill – what can I say. I used to cringe whenever a coworker would suggest going to the Veggie Grill when my office was in Santa Monica and now that I’m a plant-based girl, I was dying to check this place out. Someone had mentioned to me that they have the Beyond Meat burger and encouragement me to go for it. Now I will mention that I can’t remember the last time I did have a burger (was probably at The Tripel in Playa Del Rey since it has the most amazing pretzel burger) so when I put my lips to the Beyond Meat burger, I was actually completely satisfied. It doesnt hurt that it also has all the typical fixings. Now, I just need the time to go back to try some of their other yummy dishes.
Palmilla – Wow, everything pretty much is made with lard at this place but their corn tortillas. I did hunker down and have their guacamole and street tacos with mushrooms, which wasn’t bad. Not one of my favorite meals for the month of July but doable. It’s funny to me because there are definitely Mexican options that can easily be made into vegan dishes but sadly, they are not on the menu yet. The spicy margaritas at this establishment is really what draws in the crowd though.
Cafe Gratitude – overall ambience and service were great. The avocado wasabi toast (made with fermented sourdough bread that’s to die for) and quinoa and black bean taco plate will keep me going back for more so its a good thing this place isn’t within walking distance to my house! The only issue I have is the fact that they put cashews in A LOT of their dishes and I happen to get a reaction that’s not so fun. rThe sister restaurant to Gracias Madre does have a cute “question of the day” that’s a fun conversational starter while waiting for your dishes. If or shall I say, when I go back, I would get the banana and almond butter toast again just minus the honey.
Happy Veggie – when I’m in need of a soothing noodle soup, I will be going to this place. In a strip mall in Redondo Beach, Happy Veggie literally serves a pho soup that rivals its meat- based broth counterparts. Fresh, light and absolutely amazing. I can’t wait for cold days in the winter when the temperature is a balmy 65 degrees (harr har, it’s why I live in LA) so I can have this soup EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Araya’s – in Hollywood off of Beverly, this hole in the wall Thai gem literally has not failed me with a single dish. Delicious spring rolls, dumplings, yellow curry and pad thai (that I crave on the regular) make this resaurant one of my favorites in Los Angeles. Everything taste super fresh and is cooked to perfection. I would, hands down, recommend this restaurant to anyone. It really doesnt matter if you’re an omnivore or herbivore…you just need to be a lover of good food!