If you’re like the average American, you’re probably just coming out of the food coma caused by that last bite of your Thanksgiving dinner. Considering the amount of turkey, chicken, duck and other meat consumed over the holiday break, what better time is there to discover vegetarian options in Orange County? It seems only right to bring back some balance to this carnivore-populated world of ours. Plus, there’s more to vegetarianism than avoiding meat. It’s not simply about a switch from turkey to Tofurky or hamburgers to Boca burgers. Once you open your mind to the vegetarian diet, you’ll find foods, options and combinations that you would have never considered otherwise. However, this is not to say that these options are second-rate; they’re oftentimes just as good, if not better.
For those unfamiliar with the vegetarian world, it’s easy to get lost in the various types of vegetarian diets and the differences between them. So here it is, broken down for your convenience:
– Ovo-lacto vegetarian: You don’t eat meat of any sort. However, eggs, dairy and honey are allowed.
– Lacto vegetarian: Like the above, just subtract eggs from the equation.
– Ovo-vegetarian: Like the ovo-lacto, except dairy isn’t an option.
– Vegan: No dairy, no eggs and no honey. Basically, no animal products whatsoever are eaten. A true vegan lifestyle also excludes clothing and other animal products.
There is also pescatarianism, which is considered a form of vegetarianism. However, I would argue otherwise because the diet allows for the consumption of fish and other seafood. They’re living creatures too, no?
So it’s apparent that there are restrictions with the aforementioned diets. Switching to a vegetarian diet, no matter which you choose, can often lead to cravings and probably an odd sense of nostalgia. The easiest answer is to get over it and move on to tasting some of the vegetarian foods that you’ve probably never tried before. After all, there was no reason not to try them when your plate was already weighed down with that New York steak or pepperoni-packed pizza.
A great place to check out good eats is Native Foods, conveniently located in our neighboring city of Costa Mesa.
This vegan-friendly restaurant is located in The CAMP, which, along with The LAB, is considered to be Orange County’s anti-mall because of the design and the shopping options at the outdoor center.
Even before ordering at Native Foods, it’s apparent that the restaurant is a bit different from the average eatery because of its circular layout. It’s pretty amazing to look at and even better to dine in.
The menu is surprisingly well-rounded. You’ll find the usual categories: appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, pizzas and the list goes on. There is even a ‘kids rule’ menu for the little ones (even if they do not yet understand the politics and beliefs behind their vegan-friendly meal at Native Foods).
Looking for a quick bite, I opted for their Native Nachos, which took even my mom and me by surprise. We’re big nachos fans