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This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.


NYC Restaurant Pivots To ‘Pay-What-You-Want’ Lunch

The additional unemployment benefits that many received have come to a halt. However, one New York City restaurant is looking to do its part to help out its fellow citizens.

Every Wednesday from 5-10pm ET, Short Stories head chef Jeanne Jordan is preparing vegan curry bowls for those who need them and she’s only asking that you “pay-what-you-want.”

“Our aim is to make this something really sustainable so we can increase how much we do each week, and do it forever,” says Short Stories head chef Jeanne Jordan. “We didn’t expect such a huge response. Don’t get us wrong it is crazy tasty but is even more obvious now there is a big need for help and the state is failing. “

Previously, Short Stories packed up some meals for protestors in New York City. Now, they’re servicing their community in another noble way, ensuring that folks that need a good, healthy meal are able to enjoy one regardless of what they can afford at the moment.


These Vegan Breakfast Tacos Are As Good As The Real Thing

Mexican food, though one of the most delicious cuisines on the planet, often heavily incorporates animal products, leaving vegans who crave it hanging out to dry. Though the term “Mexican food” is indeed broad and covers thousands of dishes, it’d be remiss to ignore the prevalence of ingredients like lard and cheese in most dishes. It’s in this respect that Sugar Taco has been moving to shift the culture, by working to prove that delicious, plant-based Mexican food is entirely possible.

Earlier this month at the Vegan Brunchdown presented by Java Monster, the stars of Los Angeles’ vegan scenes were out to play, including Sugar Taco, who showcased a drool-worthy breakfast taco.

As quite a few of their menu items are, these tacos use a homemade, hand-pressed tortilla as their base. They use a vegan scramble as a hearty egg substitute and compliment that with a scoop of their savory black beans. Topped with a drizzle of pico de gallo and a handful of cilantro, the color on these tacos pop off the plate, especially when paired with a healthy scoop of Sugar Taco’s Just F*ck Me Up Guacamole.

The tacos are light, fresh, and won’t leave you feeling bogged down in the morning. In this sense, they pair perfectly with the new Java Monster Farmer’s Oats drink. Made with real coffee and oatmilk, this drink aims to do the same as the tacos: provide a plant-based start to your day without leaving you drained later on.

These breakfast tacos can be purchased from Sugar Taco during the weekends, where they’ll be selling breakfast until it sells out for the day, so make sure to get there early!

Created in partnership with Monster Energy. 

Cravings Culture Fast Food Features Restaurants

‘Munchies’ Is The Vegan Diner Bringing Indulgence To Plant-Based Food

For a good number of years, veganism has gotten a bad rap for lacking indulgence and fun in their plant-based offerings. But as innovation has helped press the lifestyle forward into the mainstream these days, so too has the level of quality and variation in vegan offerings. Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have spearheaded such innovation leading to near spot on iterations of meat in plant-based form.

Benefiting from such newfound notoriety and aggressive innovation are spots like Munchies Diner in Santa Ana, CA. Here all the classics found in the greasy spoon diners are given the vegan flip, resulting in indulgent plant-based versions of the tuna melt, Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, and even the McGriddle.

“It’s extremely good for your tummy, but it feels a little naughty as you’re eating it,” described owner Skyler Tanksley. So if you’ve been looking for that particular decadence and excess missing from vegan food, Munchies is here to fill that gaping void with some plant-based treats that stand up to the classic diner fare.

Plant-Based Theme Parks

Disneyland Named ‘Most Vegan-Friendly’ Theme Park

Little by little, the world is becoming more vegan-friendly or aware of the lifestyle. With Disney recognizing that, they have gone above and beyond as of late to accommodate vegan’s dining choices at their theme parks. Because of that, PETA has named them the most “Vegan-Friendly Amusement Park.”

According to the organization, Disneyland offers vegan friendly dining options like egg-free waffles that are shaped like Mickey Mouse, a vegan gumbo dish, and even BBQ jackfruit sandwiches.



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Earlier this week, Foodbeast’s Constantine Spyrou broke news that Disney California Adventure would debut a 100 percent vegan meatball sub at its Food and Wine Festival. The sub will be made with Impossible meatballs, which further solidifies their effort to make more plant-based options available at the parks.

While PETA can be a bit off-putting to some with its notoriously aggressive marketing tactics and has been criticized for their in-your-face method of spreading their philosophy, their site is still a great resource for vegans and the vegan curious who need a little help finding good eats when out and about. If you need help finding vegan food in the wild, from Jack in the Box to Disneyland, PETA usually has your back.

For a full rundown of vegan options at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, PETA has a full list, categorized by each land.

#foodbeast Culture Fast Food Features Packaged Food Plant-Based

This ‘Vegan 7-Eleven’ Wants To Change Perception Of Indulgent Plant-Based Food

Photo: Peter Pham

From the 1990s even until now, the main perception of vegan food was akin to a diet of bark and leaves, with little to no crave worthy traits and void of flavor. Later in that decade the concept of plant-based food began to trickle into the mainstream, yet was still relegated to a misconception of having to eat dirt and tofu. If you wanted a burger, it was soy mayonnaise with soy cheese on a soy patty and all you really did was eat a block of tofu on a piece of bread.

Fast forward to now and there’s nut-based products, pea protein, isolate-based products, and mung bean that contribute to a flourishing movement of vegan cuisine. There are now developed flavors, textures, and consistencies that to vegans, are just as good as the “real thing,” yet better because it’s plant derived. But it doesn’t mean vegans can’t have some fun and dive into some junk food. Cue Bestie’s Vegan Paradise in East Hollywood, California — the vegan answer to 7-Eleven.

Photo: Peter Pham

Taking a unique approach of vegan convenience store, Bestie’s was co-owner Alison Shead’s foray into providing a plant-based alternative to mainstream junk food and the convenience of corner stores like 7-Eleven. Along with other co-owners Asia Phoenix and Matt Fontana, Bestie’s Vegan Paradise was a concept that was their niche to fill.

“I’ve always loved grocery shopping. And so for me, to have a place where you can go in and you don’t have to pick up the label to see if it’s something you could eat or to be able to go into a place and not have to walk by meat that’s packaged on the shelf is really awesome. I figured it’d be a perfect fit. It’s a dream come true,” shared Shead.

Yet beyond those initial reasons grew a need to address the whole convenience factor of shopping for vegan products as well.

“We just thought that was something that hadn’t been covered yet. You know there’s other vegan grocery stores around the country or around the world. We just thought something convenient would be beneficial. We’re also only carrying vegan brands so it’s a little bit different. But it’s evolving,” said Shead.  And such vegan brands like Karma Baker and Vegan Hooligans, along with local vegan businesses are stocked at Bestie’s, rounding out an impressive selection of vegan snacks, desserts, and pastries. So think plant-based alternatives to corner store favorites like jerky, Pop-Tarts, chips, and milk, and even unlikely vegan offerings like protein shake powder and smoked salmon.

Photo: Peter Pham

But what 7-Eleven comparison would be complete without hot dogs and mozzarella sticks? And wow does Bestie’s come through in the clutch with plant-based offerings of such beloved convenient bites. Their vegan chili was fantastic and an unabashed topping on their vegan hot dog courtesy of Beyond Meat. As for the mozz sticks? A brilliant cashew-based cheese filling along with a flavorful breading made for one of the best ones I’ve ever had — vegan or dairy-based. So picture the infamous hot dog bar we all are used to, just with plant-based perks.

Though the ubiquitous frigid altars at every 7-Eleven that are the Slushie machines weren’t around, Shead assured me that a vegan soft serve machine was on the way.

Photo: Peter Pham

Alright, so everything checked out on the 7-Eleven correlation, at least from the vegan offerings side of things. Yet the overall appeal with 7-Eleven is their near-universal presence in neighborhoods, something that Shead hopes Bestie’s will be able to address soon when asked about possible expansion plans in the future.

“We’d love to have Bestie’s all over the country. Part of our mission is to provide healthy options to the community. So why stop at the community right here [in Los Angeles], when there’s people everywhere that need healthy options?”

#foodbeast Adventures Cravings Food Festivals FOODBEAST

11 Indulgent Vegan Eats Even A Meat-Lover Can Appreciate

I love meat as much as the next carnivore, but I’ve recently discovered a new guilty pleasure: indulgent vegan food. Skeptical? I was at first, too, but hear me out for a sec. When I eat vegan I’m not munching on just lettuce and nuts and seeds. I prefer to go all out with whatever my cravings are telling me — in vegan form — because, I’m not gonna lie, I feel less guilty.

We can go on and on debating whether vegan food is actually better for you another time, but I’m here today to tell you about some beautiful, gut-busting vegan food I experienced at Eat Drink Vegan a few weeks ago.

Eat Drink Vegan started back in 2009 as a tiny fest in The Roxy Theater parking lot for likeminded vegans, and has grown to one of the largest vegan food and beer festivals in the country. I’m not joking when I say there were hundreds of food vendors, over 10,000 attendees, and vendors from around the world. Forget about the food for a sec and you can also call Eat Drink Vegan one of the largest craft beer festivals in the United States.

Drawing vendors from Minnesota, New York City, and even multiple from London, Eat Drink Vegan really opened my eyes to how vegans get down ‘n dirty with rich, cheat day-esque food. Here are 11 memorable items I tried, from hot dogs to nachos, and even CBD DESSERTS!

1. Vegan Sumo Dog from Sumo Dog

This thing’s got pickled peppers, wasabi relish, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, minced onion, furikake, kizami nori. All the flavors of Sumo Dog’s namesake, without the meat.

2. The Veggie Shack from Shake Shack

The Veggie Shack has black beans, brown rice and roasted beets and topped with provolone cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles, and vegan mustard mayo. Shake Shack is pretty new to the Veggie Burger game, but this crispy beet-based burg is nothing to scoff at.

3. Veggie Garden Dumplings from Ms Chi Cafe

Owned by Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung, these sautéed kale, caramelized onion, and edamame dumplings hit the spot.

4. Latke Poutine from Berben & Wolff’s

Fried potato latkes, vegan gravy, green onions. This dish took poutine to the NEXT LEVEL and I loved every bite.

5. Allllll the Kombucha from GTS Kombucha

I’m obsessed with kombucha, and there’s nothing better than seeing what’s up GTS Kombucha’s sleeve. Tried several new flavors including one inspired by Pinot Noir!

6. Vegan Egg Taco from Just Egg

Vegan egg replacement “Just Egg” is made from mung beans and cooks in a way that makes it look just liked a scrambled egg. Served with potatoes, salsa, and red cabbage in a corn tortilla, it was freaky how these looked, tasted, and felt just like real eggs.

7. Country Fried Steak Double Down from Herbivorous Butcher

Modeled after the infamous KFC heart attack dish, this Double Down is completely vegan. The crispy breaded “steak” provides the perfect vessel for rich gravy and yumminess in between. Herbivorous Butcher came all the way from Minnesota for the event! Definitely share with a friend, because each bite is heavyyyy.

8. CBD Blue Majik Blondie Sundae from Charlie’s Brownies

What a beauty. This is a CBD vanilla blondie donut with Blue Majik Icing, vanilla ice cream, coconut Blue Majik sauce, hemp seeds, and goji berries. Gotta love how the CBD frenzy is catching on!

9. Munchie Matcha & Strawberry Coconut Scoops from After’s Ice Cream

Rich matcha and fruity strawberry pair together for a cone with double the flavor. This was the first time I’d tried vegan ice cream from After’s, and it was DELICIOUS. Each scoop was flavorful, but not too sweet. Definitely would come back for more.

10. Barbacoa Nachos from Cena Vegan

Just imagine tearing into this jackfruit barbacoa simmered in rich adobo with onion on corn chips with refried beans, Pico de gallo, and cashew chipotle crema. Hands down my FAVORITE item. I could eat these every damn day.

11. Vegan Double Decker Donut Burger by Modern Times Dankness Dojo

This dish is insaneeee. Modern Times created a beer with a strawberry Donut Friend donut. Then, Donut Friend took the donut beer and made a beer donut out of it. FINALLY, Modern Times Dankness Dojo made an epic vegan donut burger with the beer donut as the bun! Whoah, that was a lot.

#foodbeast Adventures Brand FOODBEAST Health Restaurants SPONSORED

5 Unexpected LA Restaurants That Dish EPIC Vegan Food, Including A Steakhouse

If there’s one area of food we here at FOODBEAST have yet to fully explore, it’s vegan food.

In an effort to become a bit more educated, we invited our friends Margarita and Natalia to show us the best spots for vegan food in Los Angeles.

Margarita and Natalia, a.k.a. “Las2winZ” are twin sisters and Spartan Race athletes. They also own their own gym! Super legit. While we wish they could just be our full-time personal trainers, we learned a lot about eating vegan and general health as we trekked around Los Angeles for this vegan episode of Chomping Grounds.

First up is Sweetfin Poke. You might be thinking…isn’t poke made with fish? Sweetfin is actually one of the only poke spots in LA that offers vegan poke. We chowed down on their Miso Eggplant & Mushroom bowl with the twins after a workout.

Margarita & Natalia mentioned the hearty veggies in the bowl, along with the electrolytes in their go-to FITAID are perfect for restoring muscles after going hard at the gym.

Next on the list is Beelman’s in DTLA. Beelman’s has a cool and quirky bar vibe with an Asian twist. The twins’ favorite thing to eat here is the Viet-nom-nom Wrap. The star of the show in this dish is the vegan “citrus spare rib.” It’s crazy how this tastes just like meat!

Because even fitness gurus need to indulge time to time, Natalia and Margarita’s next spot on the list is Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.

Van Leeuwen invests a lot into their vegan ice cream, and use pricey but worth-it ingredients like coconut cream, cashews, cocoa butter, and organic cane sugar to make sure their treats are rich and creamy.

The twins were craving savory food again, so they took us to By Chloe in Silverlake for their signature Guac Burger. You can’t go wrong with fresh guac, right?! Pro tip from Natalia & Margarita: don’t forget the fries!

Last but not least, the twins showed us their favorite spot for a nice dinner before a night out with their friends – Boa Steakhouse. Surprisingly, this steakhouse has a pretty substantial vegan menu, making it the perfect spot to eat with other friends who might be meat-eaters.

Before arriving, the twins guzzled a PARTYAID to prepare for a fun night out.

Natalia & Margarita’s favorite here is the Nidi Bolognese. Boa starts with homemade vegan pasta, layers it with almond ricotta, wraps it up in a nice little bundle, and tops it all with their rich mushroom bolognese.

After lots of eating and hanging with the twins, it’s safe to say there really is some incredible vegan food out there. Thanks for showing us around, Natalia & Margarita! Kick butt at the Spartan Race next week!

Because we’re feeling extra generous, we’re giving you the chance to try LIFEAID for yourself! Just head to and get two cans of your choice for only 99¢.

Created in partnership with LIFEAID Beverage Co.