LA's First Vegan Restaurant Week Also Spotlights the City's Female Chefs

The restaurant industry is struggling right now. The pandemic, a cost of living crisis, and staff shortages are putting the industry through the wringer, and, as a result, the nation’s favorite eateries are struggling to survive. Vegan restaurants are feeling the pressure, too, and many have had no choice but to close their doors for good. This is partly because of the issues listed above, but also because the competition from the mainstream industry is fierce.

Last year, research suggested that nearly 50 percent of restaurants in the US offer plant-based options. This means that non-plant-based establishments are now bringing in meat-eaters, flexitarians, and vegans alike. On one hand, this is, without a doubt, a good thing. More eateries must offer more sustainable plant-based options for the sake of the planet, for example. But on the other hand, it means that vegan businesses now have a lot more competition.

But vegan and plant-forward restaurants do have support from their community. In Los Angeles, for example, global events and media organization Vegan Women Summit (VWS) is hosting its first-ever restaurant week to uplift and celebrate local restaurants.

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Introducing: the first-ever VWS Restaurant Week

The VWS Restaurant Week is scheduled to take place in May across West Hollywood and Los Angeles—aka “the heart of the world’s most influential food cultures,” according to VWS.

The participating businesses showcase a diverse range of cuisines. Ubuntu in West Hollywood, for example, offers a variety of dishes made with West African ingredients, while Pura Vita, also in West Hollywood, is one of the only plant-based Italian restaurants and wine bars in the US. Plus, Donna Jean in Sherman Oaks is dedicated to providing fresh, seasonal, local ingredients—all sourced from California.

“There are so many world-class restaurants doubling down on plant-based dining here in Los Angeles, and they’ve been hit pretty hard by the current economy. It breaks my heart to see announcements of restaurants closing. We established VWS Restaurant Week to drive more awareness and foot traffic to these incredible places that make vegan food accessible to everyone with their innovative cuisine.” —VWS Founder Jennifer Stojkovic

Other restaurants set to take part in the week include Real Food Daily, Sugar Taco, and Rawberri, all based in West Hollywood. Westlake Village’s JOi Cafe will also be featured, alongside Echo Park’s Mazal and Brentwood’s Planta. Yoga-Urt’s three locations in Santa Monica, Echo Park, and Glendale are also involved, as well as Plant Butchers in Long Beach.

“Now, more than ever, supporting local restaurants is crucial,” Pura Vita’s chef Tara Punzone said in a statement. “This week-long celebration is not just about showcasing the innovation, diversity, and deliciousness of vegan cuisine; it’s also about strengthening our community and supporting the culinary industry during these challenging times.”

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Throughout the week, each participating eatery will offer its own special VWS menu item (or an entire pre-fixe menu) and will donate 5 percent of each menu item to Support + Feed, a plant-based nonprofit dedicated to combatting food insecurity and the climate crisis. The organization was founded by Maggie Baird, mom to Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, during the pandemic.

The idea behind the event is not just to support the restaurant scene, but to celebrate it. Los Angeles has long been one of the top destinations in the US for plant-based foodies. The week is about showcasing the participating restaurant’s excellence in providing a top-quality dining experience with sustainable, ethical ingredients, notes VWS.

“There is an amazing plethora of delicious and healthy vegan options available for any culture’s cuisine [in Los Angeles],” agrees actor, vegan foodie, investor, and activist Alicia Silverstone, who is backing the restaurant week.

“We need to showcase and support restaurants actively innovating and showing people how to enjoy a healthier plant-based lifestyle. This is why I have invested in both Sugar Taco and The Plant Butchers and why I’m excited to support the first-ever VWS Restaurant Week. I can’t wait to try all the new menu items!” —Alicia Silverstone

And here at VegNews, as the official VWS Restaurant Week partner and a whole team of foodies, we can’t wait to try ‘em all.

“With most of the VegNews team based here in Los Angeles, we know and love all of these restaurants and the many special women behind them,” Jill Ettinger, VegNews Digital Content Director, said. “We are thrilled to serve as the official media partner for VWS and can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with these incredible restaurants and the first-ever VWS restaurant week. It’s long overdue.”

VWS Restaurant Week will run from May 6 to May 12. Find out more about the event here.

Check out the list of participating restaurants:
1. Donna Jean, Sherman Oaks
2. Hart House, Westchester, Monrovia, Hollywood, and University Park South
3. Hot Vegan Chicks, West Hollywood
4. JOi Cafe, Westlake Village
5. Mazal, Echo Park
6. Plant Butchers, Long Beach
7. Planta, Brentwood
8. Pura Vita, Redondo Beach and West Hollywood
9. Rawberri, West Hollywood
10. Real Food Daily, West Hollywood
11. Sugar Taco, West Hollywood
12. Ubuntu, West Hollywood
13. Yoga-Urt, Echo Park, Glendale, and Santa Monica

Thank you to the Vegan Women’s Summit for partnering with VegNews on this story.

For more on vegan restaurants, read: