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Jul 26, 2014 11:33 PM

Beyond Vegan

When it opened, just after I moved to LA, I spent several months deconstructing the Father's Office burger (long since a cliche activity). I drove around LA in search of anything even close to the cheesesteak of my Philly college years. When I went home to NY, I ate dirty water dogs in NYC and Italian wedges in Westchester. I craved and ate
copious amounts of Pepes bacon pizza as often as I drove within 10 miles of New Haven. I ate a lot Brats Brothers. I grilled a lot of excellent steak. My ten hour pork roast brought me neighborhood fame. The first meal I had at Animal -- fried egg over fois gras over spam over a burger -- was sublime. I could go on....

Despite all this gluttony, I was 6'2" and around 195 lbs. -- pretty much right where I should have been. I've run a marathon and did triathlons. Though, I smoked in my 20s.

Three months ago, one week before my 44th birthday, I had an emergency angioplasty and stent put in and was diagnosed with heart disease.

With young twins, there is not a thing on Earth I wouldn't do to help that condition. So, I am now on a strict vegan diet AND I have also eliminated all oil from my diet. Coming from where I came, described above, to say this is a whole new world for me would be a gross understatement. All the recipes I read look aweful!! I'm sick of rice end beans, Boca burgers, and rice and beans, roasted vegetables, and rice and beans.

Can you recommend any vegan restaurants (Valley or Weho area) who can work with me on providing great dishes with no oil (that part seems to be a huge challenge) so as to learn appealing dishes and flavors i can emulate at home? Or, a great private cook to teach me?

I'd like to enjoy eating during what I hope will be a long life.

Thank you.

PS - Good snappy, hot dogs, I'll always love you.

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  1. The vegan part is pretty easy…the oil part, not so much. Cafe Gratitude, Mas Madre, Real Food Daily and Hugo's are all good places to try. If you find yourself in Santa Monica, True Food is wonderful. If I were you, I'd stop by Erewhon and speak to an employee or even the manager about your diet. I'm sure they will have a million ideas for you, as well as advice on supplements if you want it.

    And FWIW, I think Veganaise is almost better than mayo. And I love me some mayo!!!!

    6 Replies
    1. re: schrutefarms

      veganiaise contains oil.
      that said, my favorite is the shelf stable 365 brand of Vegan Mayo that whole foods carries.

      when you say no oil, do you mean no extracted oil or no foods that naturally contain oil ( like the original dean ornish diet?

      if you mean no extracted oil, then avocado is open to you and can open all sorts of culinary doors (such as a bean burrito with sliced avocado on a whole wheat tortilla with 7 types of salsas at freebirds). also nut butters (you'd be surprised how versatile Thai peanut sauce can be).

      if you mean all your food needs to be low/no fat as well as vegan, that is a much greater challenge.
      what about edamame? tofu? can you eat those?

      whatever you do, don't go on the special diets board of chowhound which is dominated by high-saturated-fat/meat-eaters (the "pork rinds are healthful" folks that view carbohydrates as being poisonous.)

      1. re: westsidegal

        Oh yeah. The oil thing threw me. My head was in "vegan". I'll try the Whole Foods one!

        1. re: schrutefarms

          Thanks everyone. Yes, oil is the very difficult part. I used to think Vegan must be tough but not so much anymore. It is the Ornishoe Esseltyn diet so no liquid oils, or nuts, avocados and seeds.

          1. re: ed fontleroy

            If you haven't been then you should go and check out Follow Your Heart out in the hinterlands of Canoga Park.

            1. re: Servorg

              i like the food at Follow Your Heart, but i couldn't recall any menu items that are oil free.

        2. re: westsidegal

          I heartily endorse your last paragraph.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. "Despite all this gluttony, I was 6'2" and around 195 lbs. -- pretty much right where I should have been. I've run a marathon and did triathlons. Though, I smoked in my 20s.

          Three months ago, one week before my 44th birthday, I had an emergency angioplasty and stent put in and was diagnosed with heart disease."

          Sometimes Life Just Sucks.

          From a low-fat vegetarian non-smoker, runner-cyclist.

          Who had a massive stroke at 46.

          I'm snarky and dark...but I have pretty much come to the conclusion that NOTHING we ingest matters all that much.

          It is more important to live and love well.

          Eat what you LOVE. LOVE your friends and family. Play and eat and cook and have a good time! THIS IS ALL YOU HAVE.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pedalfaster

            You're experience was horrible and I'm glad you are happy with the course you have chosen.

            I intend to improve everything that is in my control as much as possible -- most centrally what I eat. Of course life may still have its own plans for me, but it's not going to be because I didn't do something I could have.

            But I will continue to eat vicariously through Chowhound and elsewhere!

            1. re: ed fontleroy

              I agree and if it helps u sleep better at night with your little ones it's worth it. Food and drink are good but those little rascals ... I've been making changes myself for same reason ... And my doc says one to two drinks are good too...the end of the day beer is nice.

              1. re: ed fontleroy

                Please be aware that new research from the health community confirms that oil is NOT the villain, and a certain amount of oil is, in fact, necessary for your good health.
                The villain is carbs.

                1. re: VenusCafe

                  VenusCafe: given the choice between "new" research, or the Ornish research (which has been replicated again and again and again over decades), AND if this was a life or death matter, i'd go with the Ornish research every time just as ed has done.

                  there is good reason that Ornish is and has been a GIANT in this field for as long as he has.

            2. Hi Ed,

              I greatly admire what you are doing. I'm working on it myself. Visit She has lots of vegan fat-free recipes, including a great list of oil-free salad dressings.

              2 Replies
                1. re: eatinginsf

                  eatinginsf: that is GREAT website! thank you so much for posting it!

                2. Stay away from Veggie Grill.