Loving Hut

The Loving Hut is an international vegan restaurant & cafe (www.lovinghut.com) with over 200 locations all over the world.  We’re lucky to have one in Tampa (http://lovinghut.us/tampa_01/index.html).  Their vision is that all beings can live in peace, love, and harmony with each other and one of the partners of the Tampa location exemplifies this philosophy.  Duc (pronounced Duke) is a lovely man!  He made us feel welcome from the moment we walked in and took the time to chat with us a bit at our table.  He moved here from Vietnam in 1963 and loves America!  He shared that he become vegan in his early 40’s and wanted to give back to Americans by opening up Loving Hut restaurants.  He said his dream is for the whole planet to become vegan!  He’s been vegan now for over twenty years and his face lights up when talking about a plant based diet — his eyes are bright and his smile is warm.  He truly is making a difference in the world, one bite at a time!

Every third Saturday the Tampa Loving Hut hosts a vegan buffet so we can taste all menu items and come back for more!  Pictured is my plate — so full of yummy goodness!  My favorite was the Sesame Delight — sesame flavored vegan soy protein that tastes just like chicken.

To all my Tampa Bay area readers, go see Duc and enjoy!  For the rest of you, check out the website (www.lovinghut.com) to find a location near you and if there is one in your community — GO!

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Pattaya Thai

We love Thai food and have found a vegan friendly place to frequent — a small family run restaurant called Pattaya Thai.  It is on Gulf to Bay Blvd in Clearwater, FL — just off the Courtney Campbell Causeway bridge to Tampa.

Wanda is the owner’s daughter and a pleasure to know — her service is exceptional and she seems genuinely interested in providing a memorable dining experience for customers.  She remembers our names, favorite dishes, and makes a point to ask how John’s mother is doing (she joined us once a few months ago).

Pattaya Thai is vegan friendly — we love their  Tom Yum soup that they can prepare with a veggie base instead of the traditional seafood broth (most will do this — just ask!).  The savory base is simmered with lemongrass, fresh mushrooms, scallions, red onions, cilantro, and tofu.  It is so spicy that the first sip often catches you with a punch so intense you hurriedly reach for water!  I know that sounds unappetizing but the soup is so flavorful that you can’t stop lapping it up even though the tears are flowing down your cheeks and your voice catches from the burn.

An appetizer we like to order is the vegan sushi called Tofornia (pronounced like California).  It is similar to a California roll but filled with tofu instead of crab.  When we went vegan one of our regrets was giving up sushi so we were thrilled to find this tasty option.

For the main course I enjoy the veggie Panang curry (pictured) with bell peppers, water chestnuts, green beans, snow peas, broccoli, cabbage, and basil leaves cooked in coconut milk.  My husband prefers the Pad Thai rice noodles with tofu, scallions, peanuts, and beansprouts sans the egg.

Pattaya Thai receives an enthusiastic paws up from VeganViola & VeganTegan (my husbands last name is Tegan)!

For my readers outside the Tampa metro area — just ask your favorite Thai place if they can make some of the modifications and enjoy!

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“You’ve inspired me to go vegan again!”

“The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork.” – Mahatma Gandhi

In my day job I serve as the Director of Human Resources for a community services agency — this keeps me very busy!  Today we had a Health & Wellness Fair at one of our locations — employees enjoyed chair massage, assessments, healthy treats, and of course information about open enrollment for benefits.  One of my favorite employees, D, walked in and said to me, “You’ve inspired me to go vegan again!”  This was ironic as she was one of the ones that inspired me to start vegan in the first place!

Last November, D and I were sitting at a table together during the organization’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon and her plate contained just rolls and a potato.  I had loaded up on the turkey and stuffing as I was still a carnivore then.  She explained that she was mostly vegan so there was nothing else she could eat — even the green beans had bacon on them!  My heart sank as I was one of the ones responsible for the feast and I hadn’t thought about offering alternative food choices.  I asked D about her reasons why and she simply stated that she was against factory farming.  I knew little about it at the time so I started doing some research and was appalled.  I can’t even begin to share with you the horrific images burned into my brain — everyone needs to see for themselves.  We had already been toying with trying a vegan diet — we have wonderful friends that are vegan and saw major health benefits.  Between the animal cruelty and our quest for wellness we decided to make the switch in late November.

A few weeks ago D and I were in a meeting and as we chatted before starting I shared my vegan journey.  She admitted then to slipping back into some old habits.  Today she said that our conversation made her realize she needed to go back to the right way of eating!  Bravo D!

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Vegan Buffet

For my Tampa Bay area friends — on the second Saturday of every month, Trang Viet Cuisine on the corner of Fowler and 15th has a Vegan Buffet that is a treat!  Every month they serve a variety of dishes — we load up everything to try it all!  This time I went with my dear friend (and inspiration!) Cindy — she also reversed her diabetes with a vegan diet and inspired us to try it!  We met up with friends of hers from one of her bands “Monday Monday” (MondayMondayBand.com) and met some new friends — everyone is friendly at a vegan buffet!

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Disney Dining

Disney is great for vegan dining! Just let them know and the chef comes to your table and offers a special creation!  Today we enjoyed Epcot’s Restaurant Marrakesh with a platter of falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, and baba-ganoush with veggie couscous!

Later at Downtown Disney we visited Babycakes and enjoyed vegan/gluten free cupcakes!

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