Tag Archives: vegan restaurants

Vegan Sins

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Tomorrow I start my last two weeks of my freshman year of college! But with that, I am also completely swamped by homework, final papers, preparing for finals, attending meetings for events next fall (already!), and figuring out my summer work and living plans; I haven’t had a whole lot of extra time, and when I do, I usually spend it napping away my sleep deprivation rather than typing out a nice, thoughtful blog post. That being said, tonight I have a moment as I wait for my laundry to finish drying to revisit my recent trip to Austin, Texas (note to self: never do laundry on Sunday nights ever again since apparently everyone in the entire building also chooses Sunday night to do their laundry).

Last weekend I met up with my parents and my dad’s side of the family for my cousin’s wedding in Austin. I had a little anxiety about the trip, since I knew Texas is the land of cheesy Tex-Mex and meaty BBQ, but I was also excited to see what traveling vegan style would be like. It turns out that traveling vegan is actually pretty easy when going to larger cities, since usually you can find a vegan restaurant in there somewhere. Upon arrival we went to this wonderful vegan place called Counter Culture where I happily devoured a vegan pizza spread with rosemary hummus, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cashew cream. As we left, I noticed a card near the door labeled “Vegan Guide to Austin,” which listed all of the vegan restaurants in town. GENIUS!! Every city needs one of these! We grabbed one on the way out and it turned out to be quite helpful for the rest of the trip. I’m now planning ways to make one of these for Salt Lake, since we have quite the assortment of vegan options.

However, I also sinned: I was not 100% vegan, despite the lovely Vegan Guide and Austin’s array of vegan options. That’s the thing about weddings, they usually aren’t catered to vegans. Luckily, the bride and groom are both vegetarian, so I wasn’t completely stuck, but I still indulged in an impressive amount of dairy with butternut squash ravioli, an avocado bisque soup, and, sad but true, 5 cheese mac ‘n’ cheese. The mac ‘n’ cheese was completely unnecessary since I had the ravioli as well as the soup and some roasted veggies, but honestly I had already accepted my non-veganness for the night and it was just sitting there pleading to me to be eaten, so I could only agree and proceed to pile it on my plate. Also, i indulged in not one, but two, cake pops for dessert (they are so small, one just wouldn’t cut it). Yikes.

But guess what? It’s okay! One day full of some delicious, dairy-laden vegetarian food may have momentarily increased my environmental impact, but it also allowed me to enjoy a wonderful time with my family without freaking out about what I would be able to eat. Veganism is very important to me, but flexibility is also crucial. We are still all humans having a very imperfect human experience, and no matter how set we are on our goals and how perfect we would like to be, we also have to take a step back and appreciate the big picture for a minute. One day sacrificed for a pleasant celebration of love with my family is worth it to me. There will always be a tomorrow to start fresh and get back to that lovely plant diet.

On a completely different note, since I haven’t blogged in forever, here are a few noteworthy moments from the past week or so:

  1. I gave my mini “pitch” of a presentation on veganism for the Westminster Thinks Big coordinators on Thursday! It went very well and it seemed like they were all very excited about my topic, but there are also many students who want to give talks. I should find out by the end of the month.
  2. My summer job with the Outdoor Rec program is in the final stages of planning, so I should hear back this week sometime! I am so excited to get all this good trip leader experience over the summer and get my foot in the door with the program in general. It seems like our directors are pretty stoked about it, so prospects are looking good!
  3. Yesterday I did the SLC Marathon Bike Tour with Bridger and his dad, where we got to ride the SLC marathon course before the runners started. Our start time was 6am, and Bridger and I had to get up at 4:30 so that we had enough time to ride our bikes from campus to the start. It was a really lovely way to see some neighborhoods of SLC that I hadn’t been to before, especially as the sun rose over the mountains. To top it off we went and got an almond milk chai latte and tea afterwards in downtown.
  4. Tonight I went to Evergreen House, which is a bit of a hole in the wall asian food joint. However, they are known for their vegan sushi, so Audrey, Bridger, and I all ordered some rolls to see what the hype was all about. Turns out, the hype is completely justified.

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Powder, Comfort Food, and Movie

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Today was stupendous! Last night, 8 inches of beautiful Utah fluff FINALLY fell on the Wasatch mountains, including my lovely Snowbird ski area. This morning my parents and I jumped in the car, along with my two friends Seamus and Bridger, and we made a run for the mountains. Unfortunately, every other powder-starved person in the Salt Lake area also got in their car at the same time, because the normal 30 minute drive up turned into a good hour or more of bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. However, once we got up on the mountain, the poor traffic was completely wiped from our minds by the expanses of silky powder that awaited us. I think that was my best ski day this season by far. The turns were stellar. The pow delivered.

Around 1:20pm, we were doing a lap on the Road to Provo run, and Bridger, who is an exceptional skier, decided it was time to “ride the wave.” In other words, it was time to gain lots of speed going down so that he could jump a ridge in the middle of the slope and clear the top so he could land on the back side of the ridge. We all watched from the top, and it was really one of the greatest jumps I’ve seen in quite some time. We all shouted and whooped, because it was that awesome. However, we didn’t see his landing, since it was on the back side. Unfortunately, his landing resulted in a chin-to-knee collision where the impact split a nice gash in his chin, as well as a mild concussion. But, being a typical guy, we had to thoroughly convince him that he really did need to go to the medical clinic, as he dripped blood onto the snow. Here’s a shot of him looking smiley as ever, but a little dazed and oozing some gore out of his chin. And yes, it turned out the clinic was a good choice, since he got a few stitches.

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After today’s adventures on the slopes, we went to yet another vegan place for dinner, this time the Vertical Diner. I’d heard of this diner a couple times before, but still had not experienced it. As opposed to our other vegan meals this weekend, the Vertical Diner is known as “vegan comfort food.” I ordered a California burger made with a black bean and corn patty, and it came with veggies and guacamole on top. Also, I chose the 7-grain bun which is a MUST: soooo yummy with all those crunchy seeds and grains in it. Mom got a burger too, but with a different patty and more of a french dressing on it, and dad went all out and got the American Diner meal which was fried “chicken” (seitan) on top of a heap of mashed potatoes and gravy. Talk about classic comfort food. We all decided that the Vertical Diner was a very interesting experience compared to Sage’s and Omar’s. The other two places seemed to be going for an independent vegan style, creating dishes that work well with plants and vegan ingredients, whereas the Vertical Diner is going for a vegan take on very un-vegan foods. I still liked the Vertical Diner quite a bit though, and the price is definitely right for the college crowd. It is truly amazing how normal you can make things taste, such as bean-based burgers and fried seitan “chicken.” Of course, we also indulged in dessert, this time a Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Sundae. Oh my, it was to die for.

IMG_20150221_195627_100On the left: a soy chai latte for starters     IMG_20150221_201552_203

On the right: our burgers and classic American fried chicken dish

Below: the peanut butter chocolate dessert heaven.

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After our delicious meal, we went and saw the Imitation Game at the independent theater in downtown SLC. It was an extremely interesting movie, and I highly recommend it. The film was about Alan Turning, who was the main guy behind cracking German code during World War II, which saved the Allies a lot of lives and time, and helped determine the final outcome. However, Turning was gay, so he never really received the proper recognition for his brilliance until recent years. Go watch it, if you have a free night. It will be well worth your time.

Parents in Town = Good Eats

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This weekend is Westminster’s Winter Weekend, where parents are invited to come out to Salt Lake to visit their kid(s) and enjoy some discounted ski tickets, among other events. My parents came out on Thursday, and the best part about visiting parents is that I get to dine off campus. Ok, maybe not the best part, but definitely one of the best parts; I actually do like spending time with mom and dad too. Yet, this round of restaurant exploring is even more special than normal, because we get to discover all of the exciting vegan options that Salt Lake has to offer us.

Last night, per recommendation from one of my classmates, we dined at Omar’s Rawtopia, which is a 100% Raw and 100% Vegan restaurant right here in Sugarhouse. The place has a lovely, hippie-dippie down to Earth vibe, and they play very Zen, relaxing music while you eat. I have never really dabbled in raw foods, neither cooking nor consuming, so this was a whole new world of veganism I hadn’t even thought of. It turns out raw vegan food is spectacular if prepared well, which was definitely the case at Omar’s. I had the Raw Pasta dish consisting of zucchini “noodles”, nut-alfredo sauce, marinara, and a lovely pile of veggies. The dish was served cold, since nothing is cooked, but it didn’t even strike me as odd to be eating a cold pasta-type dish until later. It was THAT good. My mom got a combo of Coconut Curry Rice and a Creamy Kale Salad, and my dad got the Nut Burger. We also took my lovely roommate Audrey along, and she went for the Raw Pasta too. For dessert (because of course you have to try vegan desserts!) we got both the chocolate caramel cheesecake and the berry cheesecake, both of which were made from a cashew and coconut base. Everything was divine.

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On the left we have the Raw Pasta

On the right is dad’s Nut Burger

Moving onto today’s culinary adventures, we decided to try out Sage’s Cafe this evening, which is a pretty well known vegan eatery in SLC. Tonight, I discovered why it is so well known: because they have some incredible food!! We skied today at Deer Valley, so naturally, we went all out tonight and went for an appetizer, entrees, and desert. For the appetizer, we had a Cashew Chevre in a tangy marinara sauce with artichoke hearts, olives, capers, and mushrooms, served with crostinnis. Different from Omar’s, this dish was served hot, and the chevre melted in your mouth. After that, for the main course, I had the Magic Wok, which is a curry that you can choose your preferred protein and carb sources for. I chose brown rice and tempeh: YUM. Mom got a polenta ragout with applewood smoked tempeh, and dad got a baked pasta dish with a light sauce and vegan cheese melted throughout (gasp, vegan cheese!). For dessert, we got the Black Coconut Sticky Rice that was served with a pineapple marmalade and some kind of white sweet drizzle that reminded me of whipped cream. I was so in love with my meal that I forgot to document it until the very end, so here’s a picture of the dessert perfection.

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So to conclude: SLC has some awesome vegan cuisine! If you are ever in the area (especially with your parents), I HIGHLY recommend both Omar’s Rawtopia and Sage’s, as they both delivered gourmet, delicious food that is healthy for the planet and for you. I know I will be going back to both for some more.