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5 Of The Best Vegan Eateries In The United States

vedge philadelphia cocktails

The number of purely vegan restaurants in the United States is growing exponentially. It is encouraging to see some restaurants commit to a 100 percent plant-based menu, as there are many exciting things chefs can do with produce. These restaurants have menus that fully utilize local and seasonal ingredients and entice diners from all dietary lifestyles. Vegan restaurants show people the multifaceted flavors that come from fruits and vegetables and strengthen the vegan presence in the culinary world. Here are five of the best vegan eateries in the United States you should visit:

Gracias Madre in San Francisco and Los Angeles

Gracias Madre is a Mexican restaurant that is 100 percent plant-based and organic. The restaurant environment feels elevated in its design through a mix of exotic comfort and well-curated decor. Behind a graphic-tiled bar lies a large selection of vegan spirits, such as Captain Morgan, almond milk horchata and tequila blanco.

The restaurant was inspired when the owners, who also own Cafe Gratitude, visited the families of their Mexican employees. They wanted to capture the passion and tradition of Mexican food, but through plant-based ingredients. The food celebrates Mother Earth as well as the beauty of the Mexican culture and cuisine.

The Butcher’s Daughter in Los Angeles and New York

Part juice bar, part cafe, The Butcher’s Daughter is a haven for healthy fare. The restaurant has a produce calendar, which showcases the season’s fruit and vegetable offerings. The restaurant knows that seasonal and local produce tastes the best and enhances the community’s sustainability.

One outstanding juice on the menu is the Goddess of Green, which promotes mental clarity. It includes kale, cucumber, pineapple, fennel, green apple, thyme and blue green algae. Other show stoppers include the tacos verdes, spinach artichoke crock, avocado tartare and raw pesto linguine.

Kajitsu in NYC

Kajitsu is a one-star Michelin restaurant that offers exceptional vegan Japanese fare. Kajitsu’s shojin cooking style originates from Zen Buddhism and is regarded as the foundation of all Japanese cuisine. The multi-course meal is composed of seasonal and fresh ingredients and prepared with methods that enhance the flavor profile of each component.

One outstanding dish is the Takiawase, which is made of cauliflower, pumpkin, daikon, fried tofu, scallion, Nama-fu and yuzu. The dishes at Kajitsu excel in flavor and are beautifully plated for a complete and sensational delight.

Vedge in Philadelphia

Vedge was launched by the husband and wife team, Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby, in 2011. The menu spotlights seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, and it uses zero animal products.

Its winter menu features delectable dishes, like cauliflower cottage pie made of mushroom ropa vieja and whipped and pickled cauliflower. Its sticky toffee pudding is a highlight for any vegan who has a sweet tooth. The sweet toffee pudding is layered in its flavor profile with the addition of cedar ice cream and smoked chestnuts.

Canteen in Portland

Canteen is the epitome of Portland veganism. It is unapologetic in its passionate pursuit and knows how to do vegan food right. The restaurant brings in strong flavors from all over the world, including southern barbecue, curries, Mexican spices and kimchi.

Canteen’s bowls and salads are simple, but strong in flavor. It also offers a variety of fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. The Maca & Friends smoothie makes for a wonderful snack, as its ingredients of banana, almond butter, dates, vanilla, almond milk and maca will thoroughly nourish you.

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Vegan in 2016: Brands & Trends You Should Know About

Veggie beet and carrot burgers with avocado

In a society that promotes unhealthy eating in the form of deep-fried fast food, eating vegan is no easy task. Discipline is difficult if close friends and family don’t support you. However, vegan has finally entered the mainstream and brands now cater to this healthy and more sustainable lifestyle. So which brands should you look at in 2016 for vegan products? Here’s the rub.

Mainstream Data

In the past, brands that provided vegan products had a small market share of 6 percent of the United States population. However, Eric Pierce, the director of strategy and insights at New Hope Natural Media, which is the host of Natural Products Expo West, says data supports a shift in consumer preference. In fact, research suggests 36 percent of Americans prefer milk alternatives, like soy, rice, coconut and almond milk. Vegan products also appeal to 7 percent of Americans who identify as vegetarian, which expands the market even further. Research, says Pierce, even shows that up to 41 percent of Americans have eaten less meat over the last 12 months, instead choosing alternative protein sources such as tofu. If you’re looking to transition to a vegan lifestyle, check out our tips right here on VegKitchen. So what are brands doing with this all this data?

German Vegan Shop Comes Stateside

Jan Bredack went vegan in 2009, and as a German who lived in Berlin, discovered very quickly how difficult veganism was in a country famous for its meats. So Bredack opened Veganz, a vegan supermarket. Since the first shop in Berlin, he’s open two more Veganz in Berlin. Then the chain quickly spread to Munich, Hamburg, and many other major cities in Germany, before opening markets in London, Barcelona, Vienna and other European cities. In 2016, Veganz will open in the United States. While the first Veganz market will open in Portland, Oregon, the homeland of American veganism, don’t be surprised when one opens near you, as statistics support the obvious demand for more such stores in the United States.

Vegan Brands & Brands Going Vegan

It’s difficult enough to find vegan foods when you go out with friends, it’s doubly hard to find drinks on a weekend night. But in 2016, Guinness, the Ireland-based brew company, has vegan plans. The brand will discontinue the use of isinglass, a fish-based product, in its Extra Stout. This isn’t a surprise, as Guinness has been innovative in other ways too, like nitrogenating its first-ever IPA. Hopefully soon, all its beers will be vegan, but for now, look for the Guinness Extra Stout in 2016.

Another brand that will make vegan eating easier in 2016 is Quorn. The meatless UK food producer will release a vegan food line in 2016. Quorn products can also be found across the United States, which makes this shift in vegan food production a win for vegetarians and vegans alike.

With national food producers and breweries providing vegan alternatives means it’s easier to eat vegan than ever before, and as consumers continue to support this trend, it will only get easier in 2016.

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Plan a Summer-Turned-Fall Vegan Dinner Party

outdoor dinner party

The dinner party is a staple of the season. September and October are just starting to blend into fall. You’re enjoying the last of grilling season, chilly evenings and changing leaves. Whether you’re throwing a party to welcome autumn’s arrival or to celebrate a birthday or milestone, here’s a handful of fresh, vegan ideas for your soiree.

Decor Galore

Invitations

Go green with email invitations. Paperless Post has beautiful fall favorites. And Greenvelope lets you customize with RSVP options and even embedded Google Maps.

Tablescape

Use a burlap table runner or placemats as your base. For a summer-gone-fall look, try a festive flower arrangement from FTD as the centerpiece and place soy candles on the runner, or opt for tall candlesticks to fill out the look.

For a deeper-into-fall feel, arrange pumpkins, squashes and other gourds with colorful leaves along the burlap runner. Or arrange edible bouquets — include veggies and herbs like lettuce, kale and chives.

Dinnerware

As an alternative to your dinnerware, you might opt for a night of no dishes. Check out this line of single-use dinnerware from VerTerra. It’s made entirely of fallen palm leaves and is 100 percent biodegradable, so it is very sustainable. 

Foodie Frenzy

Sometimes creating a dinner party menu that can satisfy everyone’s taste buds, vegan or not, can be challenging. And you want to make sure there is enough variety for those with other dietary restrictions or preferences. Whip up a combination of food so everyone will have an option but don’t overdo it. A few options will suffice.

Starters

Vegan Roasted Zucchini and Mushroom Pilaf Bowl

Start with a salad. This zucchini and mushroom pilaf is fall in a bowl. Sweet and savory all in a serving.

Warm + Roasted Winter Salad Bowl

Image: oh she glows

We also love the roasted winter salad bowl from Oh She Glows. Mix hearty potatoes and quinoa with green beans, kale, green onions, pepitas and avocado. It’s festive, uses seasonal veggies and is filling for those who are both vegan and gluten free. Add a squash for a slightly different fall flavor.

Not quite ready to give up summer? Make up a black bean corn salsa, like this one. Serve it with crudites or corn chips.

Main Course

For the main course, consider a veggie burger as a last hurrah for the grilling season. Veg Kitchen presents five vegan burger recipes to chose from. Offer lettuce-wrap style burgers as an alternative to buns for those looking to limit carbs or avoid gluten.

If your grill is already cleaned up and stored for the season or you just prefer to keep it indoors, bake up something like this spaghetti squash casserole. Full of anti-inflammatory ingredients, it’s paleo-friendly, vegan, gluten-free and delicious. This dish will suit almost everyone.

Dessert

Autumn Fruit Crumble2 ricki heller

And now, for what everyone looks forward to most: dessert.

It’s time to use those seasonal fruits for warm fall sweets. Consider this grain-free apple crisp. It’s a crunchy combo of coconut sugar and nuts, with the dashing flavor of lemon and cinnamon on apples.

If you’d rather something chilled, try basil-cinnamon peaches for a delightful bridge between seasons.

Want to go decadent? Whip together a vegan classic cheesecake. The Food Network has a dairy-free, egg-free recipe that’s made with tofu. It’s just as creamy and delicious as the original recipe, so guests, vegan or not, will be sure to enjoy it.

Wine

Wine goes through a fining process which often entails the use of animal products. For this reason, not all wine is vegan. To find vegan selections, check out the wine recommendations from The Kitchn.

If you’re making veggie burgers, pair them with a dry white wine like the 2009 Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Albariño ($16). The spaghetti squash dish calls for a subtle red — a pinot noir or cab — we suggest Kawarau Estate Pinot Noir 2008 ($29). And for dessert, crack open a bottle of Sandeman Fine Ruby Port ($14).

Beyond all the planning and details, tablescape and delicious vegan food, be sure you sit back and enjoy the company. It’s truly the life of the party.

Lauren Topor is a multimedia journalist, freelance writer and editor. She earned her journalism degree from Arizona State University and has been writing professionally for more than five years. Lauren covers food news and the fun stuff happening around Phoenix, AZ for Thrillist. She also writes about fitness and health as a contributor to MoveItMonday.

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Green Smoothies Made Simple

Kale and banana smoothie

Smoothies are an easy way to ensure you are getting your daily vitamins and nutrients. In just a matter of minutes you can have a daily dose of fruits and vegetables whether you are 5 months old or 105 years old. Let your taste and desire for good nutrition determine the best green smoothie recipe for you. Photo above by Hannah Kaminsky. more→

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