Vegetarianism in L.A.

by Gavan on January 19, 2010

Vegetarianism. What exactly is a vegetarian? You talk to any old school chefs and they’ll balk at the idea of someone not eating meat. My Missus is a veggie but she eats seafood and…..bacon. I know. I gave up trying to figure that one out ages ago. I still pull the piss though. Believe it or not she’s not alone, we know a couple of these types. (The bacon eating variety). Even though she labels herself a ‘fishetarian’ I still find it funny. Back when I was a yut, being a vegetarian meant you didn’t eat any meat, dairy or eggs. Seems the definition has had several rounds of changes since then and the term Vegan started the rounds as the more strict version of vegetarianism.. I found this great article about the meaning of vegetarianism. To quote:

Vegetarian

This is a general term. About 5 percent of the current U.S. population considers themselves to be vegetarian, although a number of varying dietary habits fall into this category. Usually this term refers to someone who doesn’t eat any kind of meat, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and seafood. However, there are many people who don’t quite match this description, but still use this label.
These include …

Pollo-Vegetarian
Pesco-Vegetarian
Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian
Lacto-Vegetarians
Ovo-Vegetarians
Vegan
Macrobiotic
Fruitarian
Raw or Living Food Diet

Fruitarian? The first time I heard this term was in the film Notting Hill when Hugh Grant’s prospective girlfriend said picking an apple from a tree was murder. Have we lost the plot? I’ve heard of  Lacto/Ovo….can you just imagine being at a cocktail party and someone asks you why you’re not eating and you say, “I’m lacto-ovo-vegetarian”? Now, that wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility here in La La land but anywhere else, you might get a slap.
While I’m certainly not any of these, I do appreciate delicious food, even ‘vegetarian’ food. I’m a meat eater who loves veg and while having a penchant for stuffing meat, (Mr. Keyes!) I also have a penchant for soy proteins especially seitan. Strange? Not if it tastes good!

Los Angeles, being “The mecca of health and fitness” (according to Gold’s Gym), has a lot of delicious vegetarian/vegan/macrobiotic restaurants around town. I like eating at said restaurants not just because they’re healthy but more often than not, they’re using organic, sustainable & seasonable ingredients, which is a major plus in my book. While I’ve only eaten at a few of these restaurants I thought it worthy to write about them, especially since I hit up two this past weekend.

I mentioned recently about the Real Food Daily restaurant here in LA, which is my #1 go-to healthy place, which I frequent about once or twice a month. I’ve been going there for years and overall I just really like their food even though it’s totally vegan. If only I could learn to cook these soy proteins as well as they do! Tacos, meatloaf, burritos, soups and desserts—everything is meat, dairy and egg free using foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. The owner, Ann Gentry must be doing something right ’cause the place I go to in Santa Monica is always jointed.

Last weekend we also ate at M Cafe de Chaya in Culver City, which serves macrobiotic food without any refined sugars, eggs, dairy, red meat or poultry. They have everything from sushi to salads & sandwiches to soups and of course healthy desserts. Being a macro eatery they serve fish but I’ll let you read up on that yourself. This was my second time going there and I really liked it, especially their Seitan Katsu Bowl. I don’t know what katsu sauce is but it was tasty!

Another macrobiotic restaurant we’ve tried, which came recommended to me by Meg, a fellow blogger, is actually in my Venice hood. Seed is both vegan and macro and serves delicious curries, tempeh burgers, salads and of course, amazing desserts. Now that I’m thinking about it we’ll have to pop in to try their seitan. I’m telling you, this protein is tasty. Don’t believe me–try it with my jerk recipe and you’ll be sold!

I love having the option of going to a restaurant like these and getting the type of food I want at the drop on a hat. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a drive thru with these healthy, vegetarian & sustainable options?

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