The Orion

Veggie lovers’ toolbox

Promotional photo from official Facebook page for vegan.com.

Promotional photo from official Facebook page for vegan.com.

Carly Plemons

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For most people who take on a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, the first reaction most people have is “What do you even eat?” The truth is, there is actually so much to eat. Even when going out or buying junk food, many things are conveniently vegan, such as Oreos or a variety of your favorite chips. Even more items are vegetarian friendly.

Chico is a very vegan and vegetarian friendly area because of the emphasis on organic, local and sustainable food production. The Chico Natural Foods Co-op and Trader Joe’s are both great places to go when trying to find meat and dairy alternatives. Trader Joe’s even has a dietary list on their website and in the store that lists all the products that meet your needs.

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Photo from official Facebook page for Chico Natural Foods Cooperative.

When it comes to going out to eat, it’s not as intimidating as it seems. Midtown Local, neighbor to the Pageant Theatre, offers a variety of options, including vegan pizza, veggie bagels with vegan cream cheese and their version of a vegan BLT.

Another really great local and organic eatery is Tin Roof Bakery & Cafe. The breads are amazing and they offer a variety of vegetarian options. Popular restaurants like Burgers and Brew, Ike’s Place, Chipotle and even Taco Bell have options fitting for both meat and non-meat eaters alike. Ben and Jerry’s has recently got on board and created dairy-free ice cream.

There are even more resources available to vegetarians and vegans, especially in the form of apps:

· VeganXpress – Lets you search different restaurants as a quick way to find what vegan specific foods are offered when going out to eat. This app also lists vegan beer, liquor, wines and name brand foods and snacks you can find at most grocery stores.

· Is It Vegan? – Creates a quick way to find out if everyday grocery items are vegan or vegetarian by scanning the barcode or searching the item. The app lists the vegan and vegetarian ingredients and has a scale telling you how veg-friendly the item actually is.

· Animal-Free – Helps to identify ingredients in foods that you aren’t sure are veggie-friendly. The app lets you scan products using the camera on your phone. However it provides more in-depth descriptions of ingredients you probably have never heard of.

Facebook pages like Chico Vegan Meetup create a way to talk to other people who share the same views and often post places in Chico where you can find vegan foods.

Straying away from a meat-consuming lifestyle isn’t as difficult or pricey as most stigmas portray it to be.

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Where to eat and how much it all costs. Photo credit: Carly Plemons

Chico is a great place to incorporate an animal-loving diet, making it easy to meet others with the same beliefs and food choices without depriving yourself of the good foods you like.

For a more in-depth look at veg-friendly restaurants check out this list.

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Graph from PETA.

Carly Plemons can be reached at [email protected] or @plemnz on Twitter.

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Veggie lovers’ toolbox