By Carmen Matthews
Although the vegan lifestyle has been around since 1944, in recent years, its popularity has increased.
Within the San Diego Grantville community, there are three businesses in Mission Square Center, 6171 Mission Gorge Road, that support the community’s growing interest in veganism.
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The Purple Mint bistro offers a 95 percent vegan and 5 percent vegetarian menu. The dining area is spacious with easily accessible seating, neutral colors, and an opportunity to dine inside and on the covered patio.
The Purple Mint menu is based upon Pan-Asian meals.
Diners come from all over the county. Some choices from their menu include, Peking “duck,” “salmon” vermicelli noodle soup, yam and sweet potato curry, and “prawns” in “lobster” sauce.
“Some popular takeout orders are vegan orange ‘chicken’ and, banh mi, the popular Vietnamese sandwich,” said Sara Le, one of the managers.
In addition to their Vietnamese and fusion menu, The Purple Mint offers smoothies and a juice bar, based upon 100 percent natural juice, with no additives.
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The Mission Square Market is a convenience store and is the only 100 percent vegan general store in San Diego.
Owner and manager Sunny Bhanage partners with local small businesses, such as Flora Bakeshop, and farmers market vendors, such as Kelly’s Croutons and Edible Alchemy to expand options for vegans from around San Diego County.
Within Mission Square Market, patrons enjoy ordering build-your-own sandwiches. Some of the choices include vegan versions of Reuben sandwiches; Philly cheesesteaks and Gardein beef strips.
One of the biggest challenges for those who want to become vegan is to no longer eat cheese. Mission Square Market solves this by offering products such as Violife Cheese — a vegan-popular, coconut oil-based cheese that is imported from Greece.
In the back portion of the store, you can find vegans from around the county attending weekly events such as Nacho Taquitos Night on Tuesdays and Wednesday Wellness. These events bring together those who are either vegan or are vegan-curious.
Mission Square Market didn’t start as a 100 percent vegan store. At first, it was a blended vegan and vegetarian store. Bhanage made the switch in June, after local vegans convinced him to go 100 percent vegan. He also donated all items that weren’t vegan to the Sam and Rose Stein Education Center, a Vista Hill Special Education Program.
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Bubbah, the owner of this vegan doughnut shop, came to San Diego years ago on a student visa. And from the beginning, he and his daughter intended their business to be a vegan doughnut shop, but they also offer traditional doughnuts.
Their clients come from Los Angeles, Vista, Oceanside, and throughout San Diego County. This doughnut shop, according to Linda, his daughter, “was not always easy. One year after opening, a driver drove through the window and the display case. It took two years to rebuild our client base.”
Donut Panic also holds social board game nights, art shows, and live music.
— Carmen Mathews is a freelance writer in San Diego. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.