My zen-like attitude almost disappeared in Salt Lake City. Two servers, in two days, responded to my request for a vegan meal by saying, “We have chicken piccata.” The third said, “Do you eat meat?”
I found establishments in Utah with great names like Good Karma, Buds, Zest, and Sage. Certainly better than In-N-Out, Dirty Dicks, or, I kid you not, La Majada (look up the meaning) which was a popular place in my hometown.
I’ve been meat-free since before the term vegan became common. So, I cut people some slack. But when the former president of the United States gives up animal products in his diet, and Los Angeles adopts Meatless Mondays, you’d think we’re getting closer to mainstreaming it.
Yoga is pretty much on every Main Street in America, but the vegetarian lifestyle that traditionally is a part of yogic practices, (for many) was left in India along with meditation, breathwork, and the other branches of yoga.
I believe yoga must be a personal practice. For some, their bodies may ask for hot yoga. Others, meditation or mantras. Many seem to be attracted to flow. Everyone is different. Go with the flow, of your inner senses to nourish yourself with what’s best for you.
For me, my pathway to yoga began as a young teen and included the vegetarian lifestyle. I felt almost like the Kaitlyn Jenner in my circles. No one understood me. People thought I was “going through a phase.” I was influenced by absolutely no one in my path, except my inner voice. I chose to forego many meals, and fast, rather than eat what everyone else chose, or was served.
I was the brunt of many jokes. In the 1970s and 80s, I lived in Mexico and Latin America, rather than California where healthy and plant-based foods were gaining momentum. In Ecuador, a typical lunch for me was homemade corn nuts or hominy I bought from street vendors.
My diet, over the years, has not always been healthy, or varied. Choices were not always available. Just like at the Salt Lake City Convention Center, where two days in a row, I couldn’t get a plant-based meal. Sometimes, I’ll just ask for an apple. But the ignorant responses from the wait staff sent me to search, and support, vegan establishments.
Just like pretty much every major city nowadays, vegans have a choice in Salt Lake. What may be surprising is that one place, Buds, is on BuzzFeed’s 24 Vegan Restaurants That Belong On Your Culinary Bucket List.
One year prior, VegNews named Salt Lake “The Next Great Vegan City,” beating Austin, Texas, in the magazine’s first “Vegan City Showdown. I think Austin’s pretty hard to beat. It’s a vegan’s wonderland, with most mainstream restaurants offering veggie or vegan items.
Getting back to Salt Lake, in the heart of downtown, Zest is 100 percent vegetarian, gluten-free, and 90 percent vegan restaurant. Zest has a wide assortment of dishes with an international flair. There is a curry dish. A flatbread pizza. Cuban black bean soup. Pasta-free manicotti. A Moroccan bowl. Brussels sprouts to die for, and the healthiest dairy-free, gluten-free cheese bites.
Sage first opened as a food cart in 1998 but relocated to the Central 9th business district. Sage’s Cafe offers a variety of bowls and salads, along with add-ons like blackened tempeh or tofu. Sage’s also serves up several gluten-free desserts including almond flour bars or chocolate peanut butter brownies. Sage’s Cafe is run by the same person who owns Vertical Diner, Cafe SuperNatural, and Cali’s Natural Foods. Both Sage’s and Vertical Diner list when dishes are gluten-free or can be gluten-free (CGF). Back in 2009, Vertical was on PETA’s Top 10 list for best Faux Chicken Sandwiches.
For those who are headed to Park City, while there are no official vegan diners, there are vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. In addition to the ample selections at Whole Foods, there is a Fairweather Natural Foods community market and cafe. Beyond the non-perishables at Fairweather, there are healthy soups and salads, plus organic fruit and green juices, made to order. In the refrigerator section, there are small kale salads, sprouted garbanzo hummus, and plenty of coconut milk or other healthy drink options. Fairweather also has a variety of gluten-free, sugar-free and/or vegan bakery items including cheese scones, zucchini chocolate chip bars, brownies, and muffins.
Half a mile up from Fairweather is Good Karma with an outdoor seating area. The Sunday brunch menu offers baked challah french toast, huevos rancheros, salmon omelets, and oatmeal or granola bowls. But the standard daily Indo-Persian menu is always available. Vegans may want to take advantage of the sag and korma, both of which are dairy-free.
Good Karma’s owner, Houman Ghohary, has been featured on Rachael Raye and will be on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay.
“One of the reasons we chose the name Good Karma, was we try to impact the world one day and one customer at a time,” said Ghohary who is an advocate of healthy eating and healthy habits. The restaurant is a farm-to-market vendor with a personal connection with the farmers’ community. “Our eggs are cage-free. All of our curries are gluten-free, and all our vegetarian curry is vegan. We cook everything with grapeseed or coconut oil,” notes Ghohary who opened his Park City spot in 2006 after working all over the world.