Inspiration from a Lifelong Vegetarian
– Writing and Photos

Unwinding in Valle de Guadalupe

Unwinding in Valle de Guadalupe

For those exploring the north end of Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe is a must-see wine valley approximately an hour from coastal Ensenada or about a two-hour drive from San Diego. There are over 100 wineries in the region, but you don’t have to drink alcohol to soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful mountain landscapes. Fellow plant-based friends and I found cauliflower steaks and delicious pizza at the lovely, open-air Coraza Restaurante. Later we watched the sunset and walked around the attractive property at Casa Frida, which has various mostly outdoor restaurants/ bars. Getting a dose of nature, tranquility, and local culture is worth the drive.

Chocolate for a Cause

Chocolate for a Cause

Rescue Chocolate is not only organic, vegan, and fair-traded, but the company gives 100% of the net profits to animal rescue groups around the U.S.! Each delicious flavor represents a different rescue issue, and the chocolate bar names are creative, such as Foster-iffic Peppermint, educating people about the need for pet foster homes. Or try Forever Mocha, a bar highlighting that pets require a lifetime commitment.

Within the eco-friendly packaging, you’ll find some crafty snacks. The Mission Feral Fig bar has big, beautifully visible pieces of almonds and dried figs. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Rescue Chocolate can cater baby showers, weddings, or other events. Buy the products online or contact the company regarding mail orders. You can even have the tasty products shipped to Canada and some countries in Europe. Sarah Feoli, the founder of Rescue Chocolate, also actively plans vegetarian events around the U.S.

 

Vegan Heaven in Playa del Carmen

Vegan Heaven in Playa del Carmen

Updated January 5, 2021:

Playa del Carmen, a hot and humid city in Mexico’s Riviera Maya known for gorgeous beaches and its buzzing La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), is like a vegan utopia. One could go out to eat regularly and find meals, snacks, and drinks to enjoy, whether in fully-veggie eateries or at mainstream restaurants and cafes designating vegan meals on their menus. Many tasty spots are within walking distance of the center of town.

There are places with vegan pizza, tamales, tacos, homemade bread, Thai food, gluten-free waffles, and smoothies galore. Cafes regularly offer alternative milks (“leche vegetal”) from coconut to soy to almond as well as acai and other fruit bowls.

Note: as of January 2021, there have been various changes to the veggie-friendly eateries in Playa del Carmen. It’s best to check with the businesses directly, but here are a few updates. Clorofila Green & Vegan has shut down. La Senda Vegana and Madre Milpa, its successor, have closed. Visitors can enjoy Panneria at its new location on Calle 34, and the establishment has started serving pizza along with a range of delicious vegan keto treats. Ta’consciente is only selling packaged products to go for the moment.

These photos represent a sampling of all the great spots in the area! Also check out The Pitted Date, Fresco Habito, Jonny Como Pizza, Basic Foodie, Bajo Cafe, Ah Cacao (for Mayan chocolate treats), Sushi Playa, and Fritxs (delivery only), along with many other places listed on HappyCow.

Magnificent Mexico

Magnificent Mexico

Mexico is highly enticing. Not only are the people warm and the landscapes beautiful and diverse, but the tasty food is famous worldwide. The colorful, vibrant streets and plazas are just some of the charms the country offers.

Amazing Kauai

Amazing Kauai

There aren’t words to describe the outstanding scenery in Kauai, Hawaii!

Even after having been there numerous times because my Los-Angeles based family made the island home many years ago, it is always incredible to see a rainbow and the lush green mountains pouring down into the sea filled with colorful fish. It just brings calm to your soul and is so much more than what it seems in the movies.

One of my favorite places to eat on the island will always be my parents’ Postcards Restaurant (formerly Postcards Cafe) in Hanalei on the island’s North Shore, not far from Princeville. They serve international dishes, many with fish, and the place is very veggie-friendly; just ask the server for options.

Marveling at Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato

Marveling at Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato

Reprinting a favorite from a lovely trip.

Venturing through Mexico is doable, though it takes some research and resourcefulness, especially as a vegan. Efforts are needed to avoid lard, chicken stock, and other animal ingredients while also dodging stomach issues that may arise from local unbottled water or produce that has not been cooked or disinfected. Speaking Spanish helps with asking waitstaff questions, though there are no guarantees.

In enormous Mexico City, I was mainly fueled by beans, avocados, and steamed vegetables. Charming Coyoacan, the area in which Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, offered a tasty grilled vegetable meal at Anselma Parilla Mexicana, with a broad view of the surrounding plaza and fountain. We soaked up other sights too, walking down Avenida Madero in the historic center and climbing the incredible ancient Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, said to be the third-largest pyramid in the world.

The colonial towns San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato were captivating and had some decent vegan options. From Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende was about three hours by bus, and worth the ride for its gorgeous scenery filled with churches, plazas, and a European feel. Via Organica at Calle Margarito Ledezma 2 was our mainstay, a peaceful environment with many expatriate clients, an organic garden, a natural foods store, and a pretty upstairs patio. I enjoyed their tamales, soup, salads, and green juices. La Media Naranja at Hidalgo 83 is a small and bright spot that prepares a yummy “Mexican Eggs without Eggs” breakfast of spinach, beans, potatoes, and pico de gallo, and nutritious juices with ingredients like beet, ginger, and celery. They serve falafel for lunch too. Nectar, at Correo #43, which had fish but was otherwise a vegetarian spot, was a refreshing change with a more gourmet touch. In a relaxing outdoor patio, we could choose quinoa, teff, and millet cereals with almond milk, a vegan meatball sandwich, or zucchini soup infused with lemongrass tea, among other unique vegan and gluten-free options.

Guanajuato was about a four-hour bus ride from Mexico City. I was completely enticed by the steep alleys filled with colorful buildings and a tranquil vibe. There were tours of mines, and creepy museums filled with mummies and torture devices used by the Holy Inquisition. Habibti Falafel at Sostenes Rocha 18, a small funky restaurant, became a favorite, dishing up delicious falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and salads. Mandala, 32B Calle Sangre de Cristo, served flavorful Indian food in a cheery environment. They also had vegan brownies! Midi Bistro, in South of France style at Calle San Jose #4, had an appealing minestrone and couscous along with live music and art.

For more nutritionally-balanced trips, I suggest staying somewhere with a kitchen that enables you to prepare your meals and remembering that the joys of travel outweigh the occasional lack of culinary variety.

Photos by Paige Newman

San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato
Tea Time

Tea Time

Photo:  Nejron Photo, Shutterstock

It is worthwhile to take advantage of any techniques that help us slow down and savor the moments in our fast-paced lives. Whether we twist ourselves into unimaginable yoga poses, walk along a beach, or sit still for a few moments of peace, self-care is always beneficial. For thousands of years across the world, sipping on a cup of tea has been one way that people have relaxed. Teas also offer many herbal properties that I love to put to use. Mint and ginger soothe stomachaches, lavender and chamomile calm our nerves, and African rooibos (a red bush) gives a little buzz without the side effects of caffeine. Modern life even has instant water heating devices that make boiling water incredibly easy.

Tea can also have sentimental meaning for some people. Over the years, my younger sister Blair and I have added a personal touch to our letters by inserting tea bags into the envelopes sent across the country. When my other younger sister Tara moved to London she sweetly gifted me with a box, which I immediately filled with various tea bags. Now, something as simple as drinking a cup of the hot beverage feels like a special ritual.  Tea, anyone?

Holiday Madness

Holiday Madness

As festive and magical as the holiday season can be, and as lovely as it is to see an abundance of homes and stores decorated in colorful lights and children eagerly awaiting gifts, sometimes you just have to get away from it all. Christmas music and consumerism everywhere can leave some people worn out and wanting moments of calm. Personally, I am heading to a warm beach “away from it all.”

Veggin’ Out in Tijuana

Veggin’ Out in Tijuana

The Tijuana region is an adventure to explore and has a surprising number of veggie-friendly options. Let’s start off on a sweet note: bakeries are big in Mexico, and two seen locally offer not only the anticipated heavenly smell upon entering but a few vegan treats. Panaderia Integral La Alegria, on Paseo de los Heroes in Zona Rio, sells veggie sandwiches and some alternative meat products. Walking distance from there is La Flor de la Vida — a vegetarian restaurant with a healthy meal of the day, a bakery and store.

Another Panaderia Integral La Alegria on Paseo Ensenada in Playas de Tijuana has a bigger selection of vegan stuff, along with gluten-free and sugar-free items. While in Playas de Tijuana, don’t miss the charming restaurant Aderezo Conejo (pictured above) which serves delicious veggie food in a relaxing setting, with a live DJ at times. Also in Playas, the cute La Veggicheria (update: recently closed) restaurant is lucky to have amazing ocean views for those enjoying their culinary offerings, and stores called Huerto Urbano Organico (try their tasty vegan brownies) and Semilla Madre Organica are filled with snacks and drinks herbivorous folks would love.

Photo courtesy of La Veggicheria

Farther from the beach in Tijuana, in a friendly food court called Foodgarden on Boulevard Sanchez Taboada, enjoy some veggie burgers, fries and other nutritious fare at Veggie Smalls! Down the street you’ll find yummy Indian food at Punjabi Indian Cuisine. If you hop in the car for just a few minutes to Calle Novena, check out Verde y Punto’s desserts, non-dairy yogurts and cheeses, and other goods.

This is just a sampling of the places you will find in this area; using google and happycow.net can work wonders. Don’t miss out on journeying just across the border from San Diego–you will have fun, find beauty at the lively beaches, and encounter numerous dining options.

Note: Here’s a more detailed version of this article on The Vegan Atlas!