Saturday, July 17, 2010

food: Souley Vegan

stopped eating meat some years back in a gradual process, first giving up beef and pork, then chicken. These days I still eat some fish, but I keep the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch in mind.

For me, it was about the huge impact that raising farm animals can have on the environment; for some it's about animal cruelty; for others it's about eating healthier. Those things are a bonus, but not the main reason for me. In general, eating vegetarian is healthier, and these days it's pretty easy to do in the Bay Area. There are even a fair number of vegan (no animal products) restaurants.

Soul food and traditional southern cooking don't immediately come to mind as healthy; with the meats and fatty foods and heavy use of deep frying, they seem closer to the other end of the healthiness spectrum from vegan.

So I was a little skeptical when I heard about Souley Vegan. Vegan soul food? How can there be such a thing? Can it be any good?

The other Friday when K and I wanted a place to eat not too far from the Kaiser Center and that could be relatively quick, we decided to finally give it a try, and I'm very glad we did. The ambiance isn't going to best the trendy decor at the various newer restaurants around Oakland, but it would be at home in southern Mississippi (if you added some oppressive heat and humidity outside the door.) It's clean and tidy, and the Friday evening we were there, they had a live blues group playing in the other room.

sampler plates

The food was very good, and the portions are large. K had a 3-item plate and I had a BBQ 'burger' and everything was extremely tasty. Next time we'd order less food and share, I think. We left feeling happily stuffed. They have a variety of house-made drinks like lemonade and mint tea, but no alcohol (you can always go to Beer Revolution next door for a drink before and/or after.)

We're not the only ones who like the food; Souley Vegan was voted Oakland Magazine's best vegetarian restaurant (Brown Sugar Kitchen got the nod for best soul food) and the East Bay Express' best vegan restaurant. If you eat vegetarian or vegan, or want some great soul food without quite so much guilt, try Souley Vegan -- you'll like it.

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