San Diego's Vegan Scene

Healthy Heart

If California is one big health-conscious, bike friendly, plastic bag-free macrocosm with coastlines that belong on postcards, then San Diego is the plant-based paradise. There’s food for the experienced vegan or the aspiring one, the resentful spouse or the supportive one, and even the friend who claims, "I could never go vegan!" Here are just a few of San Diego’s freshest and finest spots to suit any of the aforementioned vegan adventurers.


Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude is just as much a part of Downtown San Diego’s lively food scene as any regular restaurant, except this one chooses gratitude over greed, eco over ego, and plants above all. Each item on the menu is named as an adjective, such as "dazzling," "liberated," and "evolved," so that by the end of your dining experience, you quite literally feel the things that you’ve just eaten. It’s just as delicious for brunch on the weekend as it is for an evening out, and the peaceful vibes and wholesome ingredients will leave you feeling refreshed and grateful.


Civico 1845

This modern Italian restaurant is the place to go with a mixed herbivore-omnivore group. Neither party will have to make any compromises as there is a regular menu with all of the classics and a vegan menu with the plant-based versions of them. It’s difficult for vegans to go out for Italian food because parmesan cheese and alfredo sauce are out of the question. Civico makes its own vegan mozzarella and pistachio cream sauce so that, while everyone else is indulging in cheesy delights, the vegan in the group doesn’t have to miss out.  


Eve Encinitas

Located on the notorious Highway 101, Eve is an eatery that benefits more than just the taste buds. The restaurant has a "vision for community healing," and utilizes the space and its spiritual ambiance to hold a mindful market every Tuesday. The menu is entirely plant-based, and includes burritos, flatbreads, buddha bowls, and more. The indoor eating space radiates warm vibes and is replete with comfy couches, bookshelves, tables, and games, making it the perfect gathering area. The overall atmosphere attracts all sorts of interesting people with whom to share energy, interact, or simply observe.


Lotus Cafe

A stone’s throw away from Eve, this cafe makes vegan versions of classic comfort foods. Although the menu is not entirely vegan, it is very extensive and nearly half of the items on it happen to be vegan, or can be adapted to be. Since this restaurant serves a little bit of everything, it’s a fantastic place to go with large groups because everyone will surely find something that they like. And for the vegan in the group- try the tamale!



The thing that annoys vegans most about Thai food is that almost everything contains fish sauce. The food at Plumeria, however, is an exception. Though technically vegetarian, almost everything at this University Heights restaurant is 100% plant-based. Just because the food is vegan, doesn’t mean that it is lacking in Thai authenticity; the menu boasts vegan duck, chicken, and beef all of which is enhanced by the flavors of ginger, garlic, basil, and coconut milk. The meals are hearty and many are on the spicy side, making this restaurant the perfect place to warm up once winter comes around.


Trilogy Sanctuary

Nestled on a rooftop in downtown La Jolla, Trilogy offers an authentic vegan experience. The cafe is connected both to an aerial yoga studio and to an eco-chic boutique, and lends itself to those looking for either a quick post-workout snack, or for a sit-down meal. From the abundance of smoothies to the ‘bountiful bowls’ and meat substitutes, there’s something here for any time of the day. This restaurant’s creative use of ingredients is the perfect remedy for anyone who thinks that salad is the only thing that vegetables are good for. At trilogy, there’s Cashew Cheeze, pine nut pesto, buckwheat crepes, and Cauliflower Wingz to soothe the soul and remind any vegan-oppressed french fries and a bowl of raw kale that it’s all going to be alright.


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