THE DISH: Embrace plant-based options in new year

·3 min read

Jan. 14—Even if you're not taking part in Veganuary — or don't even know what that is — there are ways to embrace a more plant-based diet.

Started by a British nonprofit committed to ending animal farming, the January movement encourages people to try out being vegan for a month.

A plant-based diet has health benefits that dovetail with a desire to start the year focused on wellness.

Chipotle recently introduced its plant-based chorizo, available as a protein in any of its dishes. Made with a natural pea-based protein, the chorizo has the hallmark ingredients — chipotle peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, Spanish smoked paprika — that make it a full-flavored healthy option.

Having tried it, as well as Soyrizo and similar plant-based products, I can say this has the right flavor profile for traditional chorizo fans. And it's a better option than the sofritas, a braised tofu that tastes good but is often served overly moist, which is an issue in burritos.

Speaking of vegan chorizo, Guapo's Tacos on White Lane has been knocking it out of the park since 2018. The twin kitchen taqueria offers both a classic fast-casual Mexican menu and the plant-based equivalents. If you're going meatless but don't mind a little junk food, order the Guapo fries with soyrizo.

Head to iloveguapos.com to view the menu and for online ordering. Guapo's Tacos is at 2517 White Lane, Suite C.

Another local spot that has been feeding vegans, vegetarians and just plain lovers of good food is Better Bowls downtown. For the month of January, the G Street spot is offering daily specials in store. On Mondays, buy two bowls of the same size and get $2 off. Enjoy $1 off any size taco salad on Tuesdays. Take $1 off any drink with purchase of a regular-size bowl on Thursdays. "Fun Friday" offers a buy three, get one free offer on pastries.

All the aforementioned deals are available for in-store purchases. On Wednesdays, use the code "Veganuary" to receive 10 percent off online orders.

Visit betterbowlsbako.com to view the menu and for online orders. The restaurant is at 1818 G St.

Vida Vegan Co. in southwest Bakersfield is another good spot for plant-based diners, especially those who enjoy fusion cuisine. The restaurant recently updated its menu with new items like falafel platter, loaded mac, quesa crunch tacos and appetizer sampler platter, which comes with mushroom wings, onion rings, garlic cheese fries, mozzarella sticks and pickle fries, served with a trio of house-made plant-based sauces — ranch, barbecue and marinara sauce.

Head to vidavegan.co for the full menu and online ordering. The restaurant is at 4530 Stine Road.

Another new vegan dining option is Nov's Soul Spot (3013 F St.), which plans to launch a vegan menu with vegan chicken and waffles and meatless versions of its side dishes.

Other spots to try include: Vida's sister restaurants Camino Real Kitchen & Tequila (4501 Stine Road, Suite 304; caminoed.com) and Bakersfield Pizza Co. (4105 Ming Ave., bakersfieldpizzaco.com), which are owned by Alejandro Ocampo); Asian Vegan Bistro, 2217 Ashe Road, asianveganbistro.org; and Locale Farm to Table, 1727 18th St., localefarmtotable.com.

Also KFC just launched its plant-based chicken nuggets. Reviews are mixed but it's important to note that the dish is not vegan because the nuggets are fried in the same oil as the real chicken.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.

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