A vegan road trip up the California coast, anyone? With its stretches of sandy beaches peppered with quaint towns along the 101, California’s Central Coast offers delicious vegan eats like tempeh tacos and smoothie bowls in Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and more.
Animals like dolphins and fish (and even elephant seals in San Simeon) are frequently seen living in their natural environments in these areas, too—a good reminder to all that that’s where they belong, not at SeaWorld or on plates.
Just an hour or so north of Los Angeles, Ventura is chock-full of beaches and breweries. Recent arrivals with a plethora of plant-based options such as Harvest Cafe, Caribbean Haven, and Sea Ranger Seafood Station have invigorated the local vegan scene, which includes longtime favorites like Norte-Sur Mexican Grill.
Harvest’s mission is “to serve the healthiest possible cuisine from local, sustainable, and environmentally conscious sources.” Its rotating daily specials board often boasts plates like cashew cheese enchiladas, Buddha bowls, and vegan mac and cheese, while the mainstay menu includes savory waffles and smoothie bowls.
Sea Ranger’s menu is half vegan and includes fried vegan fish and chips, vegan chili cheese fries, vegan crab cakes, vegan sushi—you get the picture.
Sea Ranger’s neighbor Norte-Sur Mexican Grill offers vegan chile relleno, nachos topped with creamy vegan cheese, and plenty more: Nearly half the menu is veganized versions of classic Mexican fare.
And newcomer Caribbean Haven offers a handful of authentic island cuisine dishes that are animal-free, such as red bean and squash stew, curries, and eggplant choka.
If you’re an early riser, you need to check out Sticky Fingers Baking Company, where half the display case is vegan and you can get warm, gooey muffins in flavors like Chai Spice, Chocolate Chunk, and Coffee Cake. The bakery often rotates in new flavors, and the muffins are made in small batches and sell out quickly, so a morning drop-in is key—and definitely worth it.
Do yourself a favor and pop into this adorable—and quite spiritual—little town just north of Ventura in the Topatopa Mountains for raw vegan pizza at Food Harmonics, rotating daily specials at The Nest, or house-made cashew cheese–topped vegan sopes at Farmer and the Cook.
Farmer and the Cook also offers plant-based huaraches, breakfast burritos, and raw tacos for brunch. In the evening, return for specialty vegan pizzas after witnessing the “pink moment.”