Years ago, I used to have a little blog called “Veggie Girl,” about being vegan in Dallas, Texas. As one might guess, Dallas isn’t exactly a vegan hotspot (except for the fabulous, all-vegan Spiral Diner, whose biscuits and gravy I still yearn for), so the blog had a lot to do with which dive bars fried their French fries in vegetable oil.
In Santa Fe, it's much easier (and far more culturally accepted) to be vegan, but it's still a bit of an adventure.
I doubt I have to explain this, but just in case, here's the deal: no animal products (cheese, meat, butter, eggs, etc.). Some people go so far as to eschew leather boots and the like, but I'm not that much of a purist.
This month, I committed to three weeks of eating vegan—which, when I don't make time to prep, can sometimes leave me feeling starving, exhausted and cranky. That is, until I unearthed Santa Fe's secrets to vegan-friendly hog heaven.
Breakfast: Even when I'm not on an austerity program, I love the huge, tofu-rich (yet still under $4) vegan breakfast burritos at La Montañita Co-op (913 W Alameda St., 984-2853). Body of Santa Fe (333 W Cordova Road, 986-0362) makes great smoothies and baked goods, and 317 Aztec (317 Aztec St., 820-0150) oozes the veg-head vibe, with reggae music, colorful Indian-inspired décor and tons of vegan and GF menu options. On a recent morning, I sprang for "The Bomb"—a smoothie aptly named for its explosion of über-healthy ingredients: hemp, cacao, maca (an aphrodisiac!), mangoes, bananas, blueberries and green superfoods. The 16-ounce portion ($8.95) was plenty; it's almost thick enough to require a fork.
If full-time vegans are virtuous, then raw foodists are downright godly. Most avoid anything cooked over 115 degrees, which takes veganism to a whole new level (I’d starve). Most of the food at
(1722 St. Michael’s Drive, Ste. D, 471-3265) is both vegan and raw. This week, I tried nori rolls stuffed with raw wild rice, cucumbers, tomatoes and sunflower paté ($10.75). Unfortunately, $10 worth of light-as-air seaweed rolls quelled my hunger for exactly 10 minutes; luckily, the more affordable
Annapurna's World Vegetarian Café
(1620 St. Michael’s Drive, 988-9688) is right around the corner. I, however, hoofed it over to
(1291 San Felipe Ave., 988-2100), where $6.50 got me a hefty salad topped with tempeh, sprouts, tahini dressing and earthy roasted mushrooms. Another cost-effective option: the ramen bar at
(505 Cerrillos Road).
Many of the Asian restaurants in town offer vegan options, even if they’re not explicitly identified on the menu—especially
Mu Du Noodles
(1494 Cerrillos Road, 983-1411). For a more varied selection, don’t miss
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen
(1512 Pacheco St., Bldg. B, 795-7383), which labels its menu items as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free and, within reason, will alter dishes to make them vegan-friendly. Order the shaved salad (cabbage, pumpkin, radish and apples; $9.50) without the Gruyère, and you’ll feel cleansed and sated.
Both Body and 317 Aztec offer decadent vegan chocolate truffles; the Co-op sells a fudgy vegan brownie; and the treats at Revolution—vegan (and gluten-free) macaroons, chocolate-chip cookies, fruit bars and more—are surprisingly delicious. But best of all are the vegan, GF cupcakes at
Momo & Co.
(229 Johnson St., Ste. A, 983-8000), where the icing is a dead ringer for real buttercream.