Vegan Food & Lifestyle
On the verge of turning 40, all my habits felt ingrained. So I was surprised when, late last February, I became vegan one morning, following an intuitive stab out of the ether. It made no sense, not yet, and Joaquin Phoenix’s viral Oscar speech was still a year into the future, but I’d promised myself to always follow my instincts after, 10 years prior, that little voice within had attempted to warn me to hide my laptop before leaving my apartment. ...
In Santa Cruz, veganism is far from a fringey lifestyle choice. Local restaurant menus and grocery stores abound with options that make plant-based lifestyles simple. Shortly before speaking with Beth Love, Executive Director of the nonprofit Eat for the Earth, I’d been at the Boardwalk with my family, and I gushed to her about the vegan option I found: a Korean-inspired rice bowl with sweet and spicy tofu, edamame and kimchi. Delicious—and indicative of the direction our dietary choices can take.
A perfect day of vegan eating — a trend that has grown surprisingly mainstream — can be every day in Santa Cruz. Here are multiple ideas for an ideal agenda, followed by further options for your every taste and craving. Try a vegan challenge: Eat your way through a plant-based day, and let us know how it went.
In forward-thinking Santa Cruz, with our ample locally sourced plant-based choices and sustainability awareness, being vegan was perhaps never a super-fringey concept. One need only look at our farmers markets and beautiful menus all around town, such as at downtown’s two all-vegan outposts, Cafe Gratitude and Veg on the Edge, to see the bounty of animal-free eating options available to our community.
Akindele Bankole, the man behind Abbott Square’s popular plant-based outpost Veg On The Edge, is being honored with the 2020 Foodie of the Year NEXTies Award.
Originally from Nigeria, Bankole’s West African-influenced dishes and American staples are a far cry from his culinary origin story of working in fast food while attending college at Sacramento State. These days, he is most often found following his passion of preparing award-winning vegan meals.
“Let’s face it, people are afraid of vegans,” Beth Love says with a smile.
Love is a cookbook author and proprietor of two sustainability organizations, Tastes Like Love and Eat for the Earth. On this sunny afternoon in her garden on the Westside, she’s prepared for us some delicious salad, along with homemade sauerkraut and a sampling of her nut-based cheeses.
The way Love sees it, the backlash against plant-based eating has gotten out of hand. “Government and industry,” she half-jokingly opines,
Home to funnel cakes, corn dogs and cheese fries galore, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk doesn’t exactly bring to mind healthy fare. But on Saturday, April 6, it’s being taken over by vegans.
The first-annual Santa Cruz VegFest, a free celebration, will introduce participants to the pleasures and benefits of plant-based, cruelty-free, sustainable lifestyles at the Cocoanut Grove. Organizers hope it’ll be a springboard for a larger audience to get a taste of veganism.