20 Days of Happiness Part 7 – Viva La Vegan Grocery – Santa Monica

I had not intended to have a long hiatus, but between work, family obligations and job hunting, I haven’t had the motivation to upload the photos I’ve been taking for my happiness series.  I finally sat down this weekend to organize my photos, so I’ll be able to get through at least part 10 without going missing.  Anyway, without further ado, here’s part 7.

There’s a scene in A Muppet Family Christmas where Ernie and Burt (from Sesame Street) have a conversation with Doc (from Fraggles) and Ernie and Burt can’t help pointing out what letter every word begins with.  “Bunk beds: B words!” they say as Ernie chortles.  When Doc looks at them askance they explain, “Where we come from, this is small talk.”  My sister once said that the scene reminded her of our family — except that complaining, not letters, are our family’s small talk.  It’s not that we are unhappy people.  We just like to air our grievances.  But sometimes it’s good to air positive feelings too and that’s just what I plan to do.  For my next 14 posts, I’ll focus on the many reasons I have to be happy.

Our Viva La Vegan Haul

Our Viva La Vegan Haul

A PERFECTLY VEGAN SATURDAY

Recently, my husband picked up “The Vegetarian Guide to Los Angeles,” a little brochure with listings for vegetarian and veg friendly restaurants in the LA area.  Flipping through, we realized that there were at least a dozen entirely vegan restaurants that we’ve never even visited, primarily because we never seem to venture east of Westwood.  We vowed to get out of our little rut and try something new.

With that background, you might expect that this post is about a fabulous new restaurant find.  While I’m proud to report that we spent 5 whole minutes pondering a drive to Hollywood to try a vegan creperie, more home-bodied intentions prevailed.  Instead, we started our day with brunch at Real Food Daily, Santa Monica (the very first vegan restaurant that we ever visited in LA — and probably the one that we’ve visited most frequently).  After stuffing ourselves full of tofu scramble, we were feeling more adventurous and headed all the way to Ocean Park Blvd. for grocery shopping.

Viva La Vegan  is an entirely vegan grocery store with its flagship store in Rancho Cucamonga.  The Santa Monica location opened this fall in an unassuming spot in a strip mall on Ocean Park Blvd.  When we first pulled up and I saw the tiny storefront, I expected to be disappointed.  Fortunately, in this case, first impressions were deceiving.  Although Viva La Vegan Santa Monica is tiny, indeed, they pack an awful lot into a little space.  We spent a good 30 minutes browsing through tightly packed rows of food and personal care items — everything from quinoa to vegan butterscotch chips to vegan shrimp to environmentally friendly hand soap.  It was a lot of fun to know that we could purchase anything in the store without reading labels.

Price-wise, Viva La Vegan is a little expensive.  It’s a good value for items I would normally order online (like vegan marshmallows– which were my absolute favorite item that we bought) because there’s no shipping and handling.  However, for items like veggie meats and dry goods, the prices were generally a little higher than Whole Foods.  Still, I’d gladly shop at Viva La Vegan again for the wonderful selection and because it’s nice to patronize a small, entirely vegan business.

Living in L.A., it’s easy to get caught up grumbling about the traffic or the smog — but Saturday reminded me that we’re awfully lucky to live in a place with so many vegan options that we can’t even find the time to try them all.

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