Is California the best place to be a vegan? Yes, it is! I’m actually half vegan myself (‘half’ because I eat cake!) and when I’m in situations when I can’t be too fussy – like being in Spain, or France. Terrible places to be a vegan. San Francisco on the other hand, is a cow’s dream. VEGAN HEAVEN.
Forget India, sunny-Cali is where vegans should live. I have never seen ordinary supermarkets stock such a wide selection of dairy-free produce: vegan cookies, vegan ice-cream, vegan toiletries, vegan brownies, muffins and cakes, all manner of cruelty-free and eco-friendly cosmetics and skincare, and several shelves of very delicious vegan cheese and vegan Ravioli. The choice is almost endless.
MEXICAN Mexican food is huge in California too and while it’s relatively easy to eat dairy-free in this cuisine (just hold the sour cream and cheese) it was much more fun going to vegan Mexican, Gracias Madre where the food is also organic. Grilled potato cakes topped with salsa verde, avocado and cashew cream? Yes please. Sweet potato and caramalised onions in tortilla with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa was another great eat. RAINBOW GROCERY The best place shopping destination was a health food mecca called Rainbow. This was a mammoth-sized, Ikea-style superstore with dizzying heights of health produce and endless rows of every niche food item you can ever imagine. The health and beauty section required an hour alone. Suffice to say, it was impossible to get out of there without feeling poor.
I left San Francisco feeling like it’s easy-peasy to live with whatever dietary requirement you wish and still be fed and nourishd but most of all, excited and enticed by food. And I think that’s what’s missing here in the UK.
I find it easy (ish) to be to be vegan because I’ve been a vegetarian since I was nine years old and it was a natural transition about 5 years ago to drop diary. Mainly because I’d read up about the diary industry and realising how much antibiotics, growth hormones and chemicals animals are fed, decided that I didn’t want to consume that or support it in any way. If I ate diary I would always choose organic and always tell people that’s what they should buy.
It’s also find it manageable to eat vegan because I love food, and enjoy being creative with ingredients. I also love eating out so I’ve perfected the art of smiling sweetly at waiters and requesting a completely different meal that’s on the menu. You just have to ask nicely!
Also, because our ready-made food selection for vegans is almost non-existent it’s a relatively healthy way to eat; I make 95% of meals from scratch and eat limited processed foods. I do however eat cake – the full fat non-vegan kind usually when it’s home made by friends or my sister (a brilliant cake-maker and author of Tea and Cake London).
We are still a long way off from having good vegan baked foods – cakes, cookies, etc – and if we had the kind of choice San-Fran has then I wouldn’t need to eat non-vegan cake – I could be fully vegan and still get all the sweet delights everyone else gets. I just might weigh a few pounds more!
If you want more vegan tips, just let me know in the comments box – happy to help.