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8 Vegan Restaurants Foodies in Los Angeles Love

Whether you’re a resident Angelino or just popping in for a visit, there’s practically no better city for incredible vegan dining than Los Angeles. From the heart of Venice Beach to East LA, plant-based menus, are popping up everywhere and showing no signs of slowing (woo hoo!). From fast food joints to a variety of cuisines, such as delicious Ethiopian, Japanese, and Cuban options, Los Angeles pretty much has it all.

So whether you’re craving some comforting soul food or a creative take on the traditionally meat-laden Cuban classic, ropa vieja, here is our list of the top vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, in no particular order:

Crossroads

West Hollywood

 

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Crossroads has made countless “Top Vegan Restaurant” lists across the nation for years, and with good reason. This high-end vegan staple is known to satisfy all palates, herbivores and omnivores alike. Owner and chef to the stars, Tal Ronnen, has revamped the meatless meal into an art form, with innovative flavors and combinations that are sure to make your mouth water. In fact, he is so creative that most patrons don’t even make the connection that the menu is entirely plant-based. Reasonably priced and served in an intimate, upscale setting that draws everyone from LA’s most fashionable and youthful to the older, business-clad crowds on the regular.

From the hearts of palm “crab cakes” and artichoke heart “oysters,” to the more substantial Funghi Misti pizza and spaghetti carbonara, which comes with a bursting tomato “egg yolk,” Crossroads truly honed the plant-based Mediterranean fare.

Equelecuá Cuban Cafe

Inglewood

 

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Did you think you’d never be able to enjoy a Cuban sandwich being vegan? Think again! Equelecuá Cuban Cafe proudly boasts itself as only all vegan Cuban restaurant in the world. If that’s not enough to entice you, picture this: arroz con pollo (“chicken” and rice), ropa vieja (shredded “beef”), alitas (“wings” made from soy), and tostones galore— all vegan.

Head chef Julito Ortega and owner Caro Lafaurie and truly brought a highly desired, plant-based slice of Cuba to Inglewood.

Real Food Daily

Pasadena, West Hollywood, LAX

 

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Real Food Daily has been a favorite plant-based option for Los Angeles residents since 1993, and unlike many LA favorites hot spots, it didn’t win everybody over with its hip decor. RFD’s mission to serve a “quality, authentic, creative, and nutritionally balanced menu” is what’s kept people lining up for over a decade. Here, customers dine on full plates of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables paired with their signature house-made sauces, and the menu spans an international gamut.

From Mexican (tacos filled with braised jackfruit, roasted tomato salsa, pickled purple cabbage, pico de gallo, and jicama slaw), to Italian (lasagna made from a creamy cashew “ricotta” with spinach and mushrooms), and even Japanese (ramen made from a spicy sesame miso broth and sriracha grilled tofu). It’s also a favorite spot for brunch, so you can nurse your hangover with their hearty breakfast pizza (topped with tater tots, tempeh bacon, fresh cashew mozzarella, ranchero sauce, and a tofu scramble) or gratify your post-hike hunger with their famed avocado toast (grilled 7 grain bread topped with pepitas, almond feta, and sriracha).

Gracias Madre

West Hollywood

 

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With a mission to “both offer organic Mexican food to the communities we serve as well as honor the mothers who work tirelessly in the kitchens of Mexico and often live without their husbands and children while they work side by side with us in California,” it’s hard not to be inspired by Gracias Madre. From the second you walk in the door you’ll be astounded by their stunning decor, adorned with festive tiles and pillows from the floor all the way up to their gorgeous high ceilings. In fact, Gracias Madre is just that stunning that we’d recommend you go there during the day for the first time to really soak up the beauty of the space.

Carnivores will most definitely forget how much they love carne asada when they try Executive Chef Chandra Gilbert’s fare. From the barbecue jackfruit carnitas tacos to the squash tamales and even their young coconut ceviche, you can’t go wrong. The best part is that each dish tastes better than it looks.

Lastly, you can’t mention Gracias Madre without talking about their libations menu. Their cocktails are epic, and the ingredients are just as unique as their names. The “It’s Because I Carrot, Suzanne” (carrot, coconut, ancho chile, maple syrup, lemon, and tequila reposado) is an unexpected delight if you’re willing to be adventurous, but you definitely can’t go wrong with their house margaritas. If you’re not in the mood for alcohol, however, we suggest going with their creamy horchata or one of their house-made sodas to quench your thirst.

Shojin

DTLA, Culver City

 

 

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Did someone say vegan sushi? That’s right— This eccentric Japanese favorite focuses on the vegan macrobiotic diet and will have even the biggest sushi buffs on the planet questioning their palates, as everything on this bill of fare is divine. Shojin uses tofu and tempeh as the base of their sushi. It’s also quite comforting to see “no chemical preservatives, no artificial color and no chemical seasonings,” promised boldly on the menu.

Their Dynamite roll (a spicy tofu and avocado roll topped with vegan mayo and a spicy beet sauce) is easily the most popular item on the menu, but you’ll definitely want to test out the rest of the carte. Their appetizers are the quiet star of this establishment, so be sure to explore and enjoy.

Flore

Silver Lake

 

 

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After your first bite at Flore, you’ll see why Zagat called it “a vegan lover’s dream,” as they have perfected their menu of healthy vegan comfort foods. Famed musician Moby has publicly raved about their burrito and even admits to coming here weekly because he just can’t get enough! Their menu offers healthy versions of all your favorite comfort foods, from mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy to the classic Seitan pastrami on rye. Flore also makes incredible use of the ever-popular Korean kimchi. Try their kimchi quesadilla with cashew cheese or maybe their kim-possible burger! And while it might be hard, try to save room for some of their delicious pastry desserts.

A final note: as spectacular as the food is, the people watching is just as fun, so we recommend you sit outside on their outdoor patio.

Araya’s Place

Beverly Grove

 

 

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Though LA is flooded with a number of vegan Thai restaurants, none hail in comparison to Araya’s Place. Tucked away, almost hidden, in a tiny Beverly Grove strip mall, this joint is a must for all Thai food lovers. Even diners who think they prefer their curry with meat will be left dreaming about their avocado curry for weeks. While everything on their menu is impressive, people tend to come back for the pot stickers, the drunken mushroom noodles, and that green avocado curry we mentioned. Remember just how spicy Thai food can be, and be very specific with the level of heat you’d like in your dishes to ensure a tear-free meal.

Plant Food + Wine

Venice

 

 

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If you’re looking for fine vegan dining (and we mean very fine) and one of the best patios on the West Side, head on over to Matthew Kenney’s sleek and delicious Plant Food + Wine. This Venice hot spot serves fare that looks almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. Kenney’s locally sourced menu offers incredible vegan takes on the classics— Kelp noodle cacio e pepe, spicy udon, kimchi dumplings, and golden beet crude are some items diners can currently expect to see. We say currently, as the menu is ever-rotating. And of course, every dish is best paired with their organic and biodynamic wine list.

 

And there you have it– 8 vegan restaurants Los Angelinos, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores alike, absolutely adore. Do you have any LA-based vegan restaurants you think should be on this list? Or maybe you’d like to check out another city…let us know, and bon appetit!

mindful

3 Ways to Become More Mindful

Mindfulness.

What is it? How do you become more mindful?

Becoming more mindful has become an increasing focus for people across America. Various media outlets have covered it, and how to live a more mindful life. Huffington Post doubled down on this by saying, “it’s not a trend, it’s a movement.” For those new to exploring mindfulness, it is the exercise of living in the present.

“Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand.” says Mindful.org

So how do we become more mindful?

Be conscious of your food choices.

mindful eating

It is so easy to eat mindlessly, without thinking about how our food was sourced, created and shipped to us. Vegans are inherently conscious when it comes to their food choices. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t fall victim to mindlessly consuming–let’s face it, tortilla chips are delicious.

So before you take your next bite of food, consider taking five seconds to think about the effort it took to get the food to your table. This simple exercise will allow you to appreciate your food, not mindlessly consume it.

Practice meditation.

minfulness

Meditation can be intimidating. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to be on a beach, meditating for hours to find zen. For those exploring meditation, we recommend downloading the Calm or HeadSpace app, which both have seven-day meditation programs to ease you into the practice.

One trick to meditate more frequently is to set up a mental prompt to do so. Similar to how you brush your teeth when you first wake up, you want to set up prompts to meditate. One tactic that’s worked for me is to piggyback it on top of brushing my teeth. So, after I brush my teeth, I spend 3-5 minutes meditating.

But what if meditating isn’t for you?

If you find it hard to meditate, look for other opportunities that allow you to be present. Things like food preparation or exercise are great ways to flex the mindfulness muscle while accomplishing other tasks.

Put your phone away.

Being mindful means that we’re focused on the activity at hand, and devoting our energy to that task.

Managing our smartphone usage is critical for being mindful. Endless notifications and distractions that are enabled by social media and other applications are the enemies of mindfulness. In fact, scrolling through our smartphones can be some of the most mindless activities we engage in daily.

A simple trick to minimize your phone usage is to put it out of arm’s reach, even if just for a small, designated amount of time. For instance, I like to put my phone in my bag or on a different table while I’m at work, as this systematically allows for me to put more focus into the tasks I’m working on.

 

And it’s not just phones that can be a problem. According to recent Nielson research, Americans spend nearly 11 hours a day consuming media, with TV (still) being the biggest driver at 4 hours and 46 minutes daily. By adding in systems to manage our media consumption, we can cut out a lot of mindlessness and ultimately live a more mindful life.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, even little steps towards becoming more mindful can go a long way. These practices can help with coping skills, taking away stress, and adding a new level of appreciation to your everyday activities.

Let me know how you practice mindfulness by posting about this using the hashtag #MindfulVegan.

 

vegan keto guide

The Vegan Keto Diet – Explained

The ketosis diet, better known as the ‘keto diet’, became mainstream in 2018 – it was the most searched for diet. The premise is simple, cut down carbohydrate intake and force your body to rely on fat for energy. In scientific terms, when your body switches from a glycogen (carb) burning state to ketosis, ketones will be released into the blood as an energy source for your body.

It’s important to note, although keto is a popular diet, there is no ‘right’ way to be vegan. Everyone can find a vegan diet or vegan snacks that fit their lifestyle.

*Disclaimer – it is recommended to consult a dietician or your physician before making any significant dietary changes.

The basic formula looks like this:

  • Low carbohydrate intake (less than 50 net carbs per day)
  • High fat intake (between 111–167 grams of fat per day depending on your total calorie intake)
  • Moderate protein intake (0.7 grams per pound of bodyweight)

Keto formula

To figure out your exact macro nutrition amounts for your body, check out this ketosis calculator.

When switching to this diet, it will take your body 1-2 days to get through all of your glycogen stores (energy from carbohydrates), and start burning fat. During this transition into the state of ‘ketosis’, you may what’s called the keto flu, where you may start to experience flu-like symptoms.

How can you tell if you’re in Ketosis?

After a couple of days on the ketogenic diet, you will be in the state of ketosis. However, if you’re eager to see when your vegan diet has kicked you into a fat-burning state by way of ketosis, you can purchase keto strips, which will detect the ketone levels in your urine. This is for those who are very serious about their ketone levels.

What side effects should you look out for?

The main side effects from switching to a vegan keto diet are (i) dry mouth, (ii) bad breath, and (iii) the keto flu (explained above). It should also be noted that you may want to increase your salt intake while on the keto diet to assist with replenishing electrolytes.

What are net carbs?

Net carbs are the total carbohydrates you intake minus the carbohydrates you intake via fiber. Let’s use brussels sprouts as an example:

A single cup of brussels sprouts has 8 grams of carbohydrates, with 3.3 coming in the form of fiber. Therefore, they would give you 4.7 net carbs.

An easy way to figure out how many carbohydrates you’re consuming is to download a tracking app such as Lose it or MyFitnessPal.

But is this healthy?

The jury is still out on this.

Ketosis is a relatively new diet and has literature both supporting it and against it. It has shown promising signs for lowering and regulating blood sugar, as well as positively affecting cholesterol levels, by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

The biggest concern with the keto diet is the lack of data regarding the long-term effects of following the diet.

Is a vegan keto diet possible?

It’s definitely not for everyone. Maintaining a state of ketosis on any diet is a challenge.

If you search for keto diet recommendations online, you’ll be inundated with blogs and information suggesting you eat stark amounts of meat, and cheese–both, obviously not vegan-friendly.

The good news is that a vegan keto diet is attainable and full of great food options. You need to be careful about which fruits and vegetables you put into your diet, as some are full of sugar and carbohydrates.

What vegan foods are keto friendly?

vegan keto foods

Fats

The name of the game with fat intake is to use your favorite dairy alternatives, mixed in with fats from whole foods such as nuts, and avocados. Let’s just say if you like guacamole, you’re in luck.

-Coconut yogurts and milk alternatives

-Vegan cheeses

-Coconut oil, Olive oil, MCT oil, avocado oil,

-Avocados

-Mixed Nuts

Proteins

Your favorite vegan proteins will be essential to you getting the proper nutrition while on the vegan keto diet. If you’re buying any processed meat/dairy alternatives be on the lookout that their net carbs are low.

-Tofu

-Vegan eggs/meat alternatives

-Seitan

-Tempeh

-Vegan protein powder

Carbs

Although your carbohydrate intake will be limited while on a vegan keto diet, you will want to leverage the micronutrients and vitamins included in the food listed below. Things such as spinach cooked in coconut oil is a great side dish for any vegan dinner.

-Spinach, kale, mixed greens, etc.

-Above ground veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, etc.

sauerkraut, kimchi

-mushrooms

Supplementation

We recommend taking several vitamin supplements while on the vegan keto diet. That is to help you cover your bases from a nutritional standpoint as you get used to your new diet. According to Healthline, there are seven must-have supplements vegans should incorporate into their diets.

What vegan foods should you stay away from?

When it comes to vegan foods, even ones that we think of as ‘healthy’ they can be counterproductive to the vegan keto diet. Many of the foods from standard vegan diets, such as legumes, sweet potatoes, and fruits should be avoided if you want to get into a state of ketosis. That means checking your favorite vegan foods and seeing their net-carbohydrate level.

-Legumes

-Potatoes, Yams, etc.

-Most fruits

-Grains

-Carrots

Keto was the craze in 2018, and many vegans took note of it. Although it was popular last year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain a balanced plant-based lifestyle, with some great tasting vegan snacks in the mix.

Ultimately, there’s no ‘right’ way to be vegan. If you’re taking steps towards reducing animal suffering through choosing a plant-based diet, with or without carbs, you’re making a positive impact.

 

Vegan Skincare Guide

Vegan Skincare: Your Guide to Getting Started

The term ‘vegan’ is not exclusive to the food we consume. The increasing interest in veganism has spread far beyond the dietary context; from the clothes we wear and the linens we sleep on, to the household products we use and the cars we drive, has proved that adopting a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to end (or begin) with the food we eat.

Swapping out your regular products for a vegan, cruelty-free beauty routine is another way to make the crossover, and according to Google Trends, more and more consumers are taking notice. Searches for the vegan skincare category have grown by 83% year over year since 2010, and for good reason.

We’ve seen the drastic benefits of a vegan diet, so why wouldn’t the same logic apply to skincare or any other vegan lifestyle change?

Fortunately for you, the environment, and animals around the world, it does. Trading your normal skincare, makeup, and beauty routine for one that is vegan and cruelty-free has an abundance of incredible benefits.                                                                                                               

What defines vegan skincare?

Firstly, let’s define what vegan skincare actually means. They are products that are created without any use of ingredients from animals, animal-derived products or animal by-products. These by-products are the parts of the animal that are not directly consumed by humans. Beeswax, lanolin, collagen, carmine, cholesterol, and gelatin are some of the most commonly used animal by-products by the world’s leading beauty and cosmetic brands, and they are found in an extensive range of items produced by these brands.

Is there a difference between vegan and cruelty-free?

Vegan vs Cruelty Free

It’s also important to note that the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not synonyms, though the confusion is understandable. As stated above, ‘vegan’ refers to products without any animal-derived ingredients, but it does not specify on the production process. Technically, items tested on animals can claim to be vegan. By the same token, ‘cruelty-free’ means that the final product has not been tested on animals in the process, but can contain some of those pesky animal-derived or animal by-products mentioned above.

Both are champions for animal rights and will hopefully be interchangeable in the near future.

Is there a trick to reading the labels?

vegan labels

You’ve probably noticed more than a dozen different logos and seals on your products, all making similar claims about being suitable for a certain lifestyle. It is just as critical to familiarize yourself with labels as it is with ingredients. Here are the labels to look out for and what they mean:leaping bunny

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) is an organization made up of eight national animal protection groups which banded together to make shopping for cruelty-free products easier and more trustworthy through their internationally recognized Leaping Bunny program. Their leaping bunny logo certifies the product is 100% cruelty-free after meeting their uncompromising criteria.vegan society

The Vegan Society is a U.K. based organization dedicated to the worldwide recognition of veganism. Their seal certifies that the product is 100% free from animal products.

certified vegan

The Certified Vegan logo is a registered trademark (think the Kosher trademark) for products that do not contain animal products or by-products and have not been tested on animals. AKA Vegan and cruelty-free.

An extra benefit from going vegan and cruelty-free with your beauty routine is you are one step closer to avoiding ingredients that are toxic, unclean and unsafe. Once you make the switch to vegan and cruelty-free products, by reading labels closely you begin to learn more about the ingredients. One helpful tip from the Beauty Box Curator, “I always crosscheck all ingredients on every product I use as well as Vegancuts features on EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. This helpful site explains less commonly known ingredients as well as lists toxicity levels.”

Now let’s get to the benefits:

It’s a big step for humanity.

cruelty free

Much like a vegan diet, cruelty-free skincare routine is kinder to animals, as it rids the need to use animals or their body parts in any capacity. Fortunately, animal rights have been on the rise in recent years. This put major cosmetic brands under harsh scrutiny for their ingredients and testing processes, and in turn, resulted in a dramatic spike in vegan and cruelty-free options for consumers.

Today’s market makes it easier than ever for consumers to find their favorite, ‘holy grail’ cosmetic item among a vast array of vegan and cruelty-free beauty brands. By consciously buying these products, we are actively lowering the demand for products being produced by animal testing.

You’re helping the environment, too!

Using animal by-products for ingredients affects not only the animals but also our earth’s precious resources. Feeding the farmed animals substantial amounts of grain and water and subsequently killing them, processing, transporting and storing their bodies is harshly energy-intensive. It also releases a significantly higher amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, into the environment.

Plant-based products are a more efficient use of our resources, as they need less energy from fossil fuels, less land, and less water. By removing animal products from our skincare and beauty routines and products, we can play our part in dramatically reducing humanity’s detrimental impact on the environment.

Many vegan brands are also very conscious of packaging. Products that would typically clog our landfills are now being recycled to create packaging. Brands like Pacifica Beauty, commonly featured in Vegancuts boxes, even boast their own recycling program.

In a world where ecosystems we depend on are being challenged by pollution and waste, every bit of conscious action counts— for us and generations to come.

Nourishing, natural ingredients greatly improve skin quality.

skincare

The fewer products you put on your skin, the better. More dermatologists than ever are recommending we stay away from too many ingredients for a variety of reasons. Vegan products are known for having cleaner ingredient lists than non-vegan products.

Vegan brands tend to use high-quality herbs, roots, essential oils, and other high-quality natural ingredients with moisturizing and anti-aging qualities. In fact, plants have been used to treat many skin conditions for centuries. These tried and true ingredients have proven their efficacy in humans long before even our basic face wash. The benefits from mineral-rich clay, for example, range from smoothing to clarifying your skin. Chamomile soothes rashes and other irritations. Jojoba treats acne. The olive leaf is used for hydration, and rose hip for regeneration.

This means you’re packing in tons of extra benefits— without even trying! Depending on what your skin concern is, your vegan beauty products may be preventing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles, eradicating eye bags or dark eye circles or even reducing acne and the scarring that came with it.  

Vegan skincare is suitable for all skin types— even the most sensitive.

Many of the harsh chemicals found in non-vegan products, such as synthetic fragrance, parabens, petroleum, and synthetic colorants, cause minor and major skin irritations. Even worse, these chemicals are often used as fillers, meaning they have no substance or purpose, irritating your skin and harming the environment for no reason. 

Vegan skincare provides long-term support.

face cream

Though you may see quick, even instant, results from chemically-formulated skincare products, you could be causing irreversible damage down the road. The debate is out as to how much your skin actually absorbs into your system, but there’s no question it does. This means that those toxins are, to some degree, being directly absorbed into your system, and we don’t know what those long-term effects are. Vegan skincare products, along with some other non-vegan products, are packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants which have proved for centuries to nourish your skin long-term.

What now?

If you haven’t already, swapping out your regular makeup and skincare routine for vegan, clean and cruelty-free products may seem like a daunting task. However, it’s also incredibly exciting, as you’re about to embark on a wonderful journey for your skin and our planet.

All Vegancuts products are vegan, clean and cruelty-free, taking the stress and time from the research phase out for the consumer. Get started with your Vegancuts subscription box today, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you have regarding vegan skincare products. We’re more than happy to help. Leave a note in the comments, or contact us via email.

 

5 Ways to Detox

 

Vegan Detox and Cleanse Options 

If “eat, drink and be merry” is the mantra of the holiday season, then “get back to business, exercise and detox” is surely the refrain of the New Year. If you’re feeling a little sluggish after the holiday’s indulgences and are looking to give your body a break, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve lined up our top 5 vegan detox picks to help you feel your best.

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Our Favorite Things To Do With Upton’s Jackfruit

Upton's Naturals Jackfruit

The latest and greatest craze in the vegan community is the elusive new savory jackfruit product from Upton’s Naturals. With two delicious flavors, Bar-B-Que,and Chili Lime Carnitas, the possibilities to create delicious meals are endless. Here are a few of our favorite things to do with Upton’s Jackfruit!

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