Over ten years ago, one of my friends took me to Real Food Daily before the restaurant became the Grandmother of the organic vegan world, and vegan restaurants started proliferating like sprouts. I usually order their burger with avocado, tempeh bacon, and cashew cheese, which I've bet meat lovers they would love once they taste it (and I end up winning the bet). If you have never had vegan food, they have familiar Mexican plates, like a burrito with Spanish rice, black beans, tempeh bacon, peppers, jalapeno cashew cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and tofu sour cream, as well as creative pasta dishes that are good starting points for a journey into this new world. Their philosophy of environmental awareness and consciousness extends to nearly everything they do; they even use water that has been purified with filters and by reverse osmosis, so no plastic bottles here. Their green bent does not detract from the tasty food; this is one of the few Vegan places where I actually like the chocolate cake they offer for dessert.
The Veggie Grill is a new chain that started in Orange County and has moved north to El Segundo and soon to Hollywood, bringing a fresh taste to Los Angeles. Their healthy food is a great alternative when you want a quick lunch or take out without worrying about getting a fast food hangover later. Their plant based proteins are tasty and they offer them in salads and sandwiches which mimic animal meat with dishes like their Chipotle Veggie Steak, which is served with chipotle BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce and tomatoes. If you order a salad, they are a bit heavy handed in their saucing, so order your dressing on the side. My friend Cindy loves the Don't Be a Chicken Sandwich which is their version of a grilled chicken sandwich (without any antibiotic or hormone ridden chicken). They even have a kid's meal, so you can introduce your children to healthier eating habits that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Urth Cafe is my favorite health food restaurant chain, originally known for its' organic coffees and teas. They were one of the first (and only) places to sell organic, fair trade, shade grown, sustainable crop coffee. Like all good things, it started with one location that was (and still is) so wildly popular and packed that there was never any parking or tables available without requiring a lot of patience. Now with three locations around Los Angeles, they have expanded their menu to include delicious soups, sandwiches, and salads. Even their drink menu has grown to include choices like chai and boba teas. You may order their coffees and teas online, but you must go to them to taste their wonderful food. I crave their vegetarian chili and chicken noodle soup on cold days (a rarity in Los Angeles). They are famous for their desserts (if you want to have a spectacular Thanksgiving pie, you have to order their pumpkin and pecan pies weeks in advance); their coconut pound cake is probably my favorite dessert in Los Angeles. They practice what they preach about sustainable growth and ecology; their newest location in Santa Monica was built to use solar energy to power the restaurant and there is a meter on the wall that shows the energy the restaurant gets and uses from the solar panels on the roof.
Help the planet and your body by eating your veggies!