What can a Vegan eat in Isla Vista?!

One of the biggest questions my friends had for me when I made the switch to veganism was this one: What are we going to do when we go out to eat? Will it even be possible, or will it be so frustrating to find food that we won’t go out anymore?

Well, yes, the days of pizza nights are mostly gone now (probably for the best. Those are too frequent as it is). However, I was really pleased to find that there are vegan options offered in almost every single restaurant in Isla Vista! Some, like Hana Kitchen, are well known for their tasty vegan alternatives. I set off on a journey around the Loop to figure out what exactly I can eat and where, and my findings were pretty surprising. Below is a list of IV restaurants* (alphabetically) and what they offer for vegans:

Blaze — Even though vegan cheese is offered, the dough is not vegan due to the eggs used to make it. Blaze is not an ideal place for a vegan to get dinner. Perhaps bring your own tortilla and ask them to use that instead?

Blenders — Every drink can be made vegan! They either just use fruit, or they use soy milk. Just choose a drink from the menu and ask for the vegan version!

Buddha Bowls — One of their own employees created the Vegan Earth Bowl in order to provide a delicious option for vegan students in IV. You can also craft your own bowl with whatever veggies you want, but make sure you avoid the mushrooms because they’re cooked with butter. Also worth noting that the employees wished me luck instead of scoffing at me. Shout-out to you, Buddha Bowls!

Deja Vu — Fries are a good option here, but even better are their veggie wraps! Just ask for no cheese. You can also ask for a garden cheeseburger w/out cheese (however, the employee I asked at the time wasn’t sure if his buns were made with egg or not).

Equilibrium — If your friends choose to head out to Equilibrium for dessert, make sure you scoop up the sorbet, because that’s pretty much the only vegan thing they offer.

Hana Kitchen’s Famous and Delicious vegan bowl — and a strawberry slush!

Fire & Ice — The only vegan snack food is the mochi ball, made out of sesame. Be careful if you’re avoiding gluten though, because it does contain that! Some drinks can be made with almond milk, and the teas without milk at all are good options. However, the thicker smoothies cannot be made without dairy.

Freebirds — None of the food is cooked with lard, so you can create your own Vegan burrito, quesadilla or bowl! All the beans, rice, and veggies that you want are vegan!

Hana Kitchen — Delicious Vegan bowls, slushes and iced teas w/out milk, boba (although watch out for the refined sugar, if you avoid that)

HiWi — One of the newest additions to Isla Vista, HiWi offers quite a few vegan options, such as a poke bowl, and you can add either the breaded eggplant or the tofu plate to their tacos!

Ike’s sandwiches — You can find a selection of sandwiches which can be made vegan at Ike’s! Great place to get sandwiches with friends.

A panel from Ike’s menu showing the Vegan and Veggie options!

Pizza My Heart — Sadly, PMH does not offer any vegan options.

Rosarito — They offer a veggie quesadilla w/out cheese, and you can get a veggie burrito without sour cream or cheese. Chips and salsa or guac is also a great snack to get here!

Sams to go — Any of the sandwiches can be made vegan by asking for no mayo, no cheese, etc.

Silvergreens — Unfortunately, the veggie patty is not vegan, since it has egg in it. However, any of the sandwiches can be lettuce-wrapped to become vegan!

Sorriso’s — Sorriso’s has a wide variety of vegan options, especially because now you can craft your own pastas! The Insalata Mista Salad is vegan, as are the Marinara, Puttanesca and Arrabbiata pastas. The Soup of the Days and the focaccia bread that is served with every meal is always vegan! For dessert, make sure you try the mango sorbet.

South Coast Deli — They have vegan options, just not for breakfast. Salads are probably your best bet here.

Spudnuts — Sadly, Spudnuts does not offer vegan donuts.

Subway — Even though you can craft your own sandwich, the breads are not vegan, which means that sadly none of the sandwiches are vegan, either.

Sushiya — Surprisingly, Sushiya does offer veggie options! Check out their cucumber, avocado and vegetable rolls if your friends are craving sushi. They also offer a Vegetable ramen, however it comes to them in powder-form and they aren’t entirely sure if it is vegan because of this.

Sweet Alley — The only sweet available to vegans here would be the Acai bowls, which normally contains bee pollen but you can ask for that to be removed if you would like.

The Habit — They told me that the burger buns have been “water baked”. My online searches were not able to confirm whether or not this means that they are vegan. You can choose to have a veggie burger w/out cheese and mayo. Also, french fries are a yummy vegan shareable snack!

Woodstocks — They can make entirely vegan pizzas with delicious cheese and egg-free pizza crust (in fact, all of their crusts are vegan!). They also have vegan salads, and you can create your own meals. Pizza night is back!

I made a fuzzy friend outside of HiWi during my journey!

In addition to restaurants, a great place to grab a quick vegan snack or to stock up your fridge is the IV Food Co-op. I’ve tried several items there so far, including their vegan spring rolls and wraps, and they were all delicious. Just keep in mind that the co-op tends to lean on the pricey side; you can easily buy cheap vegan ingredients and make these same meals yourself, too.

Happy Eating! :)

Thank you for reading! Future articles will focus on the kinds of vegan meals that I’m trying out at home, and much more.

  • Note: I did not visit every single restaurant, but I did cover most of them, including those that I think are most popular among students.