With Earth Day 2011 just around the corner on Friday April 22, eating a vegetable-based diet is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. More than 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go toward animal agriculture.
And it doesn't stop there. Animal agriculture also uses up an extraordinary amount of our precious water resources (the amount used is roughly equal to all other uses of water in the U.S.) and depletes the rainforest (we import 200 million pounds of beef from Central America every year).
Want to find out for yourself? Check out this Earth Day Calculator. The first questions all center around diet and meat consumption.
But don't let this get you down -- it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Cutting out meat just one day a week can have a big impact. That's the mantra of Meatless Monday, the popular public service initiative that has been adopted by several cities, school systems, and even featured on Oprah (for weekly meatless recipes published every Monday, check out my blog, Domestic Divas).
Here's a list of our favorite vegan and vegan-friendly eateries around Weho:
Located in the complex on Sunset Blvd and Crescent Heights, smack in between CB2 and Trader Joe's, this is a meat-eater's vegan restaurant. Their playful menu boasts fun offerings like "Chillout Wings" ($6.25), "Bean Me Up Chili" ($4.50), and the "All American Stack" sandwich, which could rival any fast food burger. Even better, all their menu items are priced under $10.
Always a big draw for veggies and non-veggies alike, , or "RFD" for those in the know, showcases an extensive vegan menu filled with yummy treats. In addition to wraps, sandwiches, and salads, other entrees include "Tac-o' the Town" ( $14.25) with veggie tacos, "TV Dinner" ($13.95) with a playful riff on meatloaf, and "Pizza Ya Can Eat-za" ($14.25), which features a gluten-free cornmeal crust. Their scrumptious vegan cupcakes will feed your inner child. It's also great for brunch.
While WeHo hotspot on Santa Monica Blvd. isn't full-on vegan, they make the list for their fabulous "Berkely Vegan" pizza ($17.50/large). Made with marinara sauce, vegan cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers, it's the best vegan pizza in Los Angeles. It's so good, you won't even miss the real thing. Want to veganize a different veggie pizza? Z Pizza will happily sub vegan cheese on any menu item.
Packed eatery Hugo's is our top pick for vegan brunch. Their jam-packed, health-conscious menu is filled with decedent options like "Roasted Pineapple Coconut Pancakes" ($10.65), which are both dairy and gluten-free, the classic "Huevos Rancheros" ($11.15) with tofu instead of poached eggs, and the "Tofu Breakfast Scramble" ($11.65), a tasty concoction of sweet potatoes, green onions, tomato, spinach, garlic, and mushrooms doused in a ginger-soy sauce. In addition to an extensive juice and smoothie menu, they also offer a choice or soy or rice milk with any coffee drinks.
5. Urth Cafe
This celeb-packed Weho destination is the place to see and be seen (it makes frequent cameo's on HBO's Entourage), but it's also our top pick to chow down on vegan dessert. With options like "Vegan Chocolate Chunk Pecan" and "Vegan Organic Oatmeal-Raisin" cookies ($2.75 each) and "Vegan Chocolate Cake" ($5.25), you won't even miss the real deal. And look out for their seasonal menu items like "Victory Vegan Pumpkin Pie" ($5.25) and "Velvet Vegan Chocolate Tart" ($5.25), made with a chocolate pastry shell and rice milk ganache. They're sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.