Vegan Hawaii – Guide to Oahu

Vegan Hawaii - Guide to Oahu

Trav­elling as a ve­g­an can be tricky at times, es­­pe­­cial­­ly when deal­ing with lan­guage bar­ri­ers, cul­­tu­r­al dif­fer­­ences and un­­known food in­­­gre­di­ents. To make things that lit­­tle bit eas­i­er for glo­be­trot­t­ing ve­g­ans we are pleased to pre­sent a se­ries of trav­el guides cov­­er­ing the ba­sics of get­t­ing good food around the world. Sasha James pre­sents the lat­est in our se­ries, the guide to ‘ono ve­g­an grinds’ (as the lo­cals re­fer to de­li­cious food) in Oahu, Hawaii

I fell in love with Hawaii on my first trip. There’s some­thing sooth­ing and re­lax­ing about it: the trop­i­cal vibes take my stress-o-me­tre down from ten to one in a mat­ter of min­utes. I love it.

Oahu is the most pop­u­lat­ed and com­mer­cial of the eight main is­lands (but don’t let this de­ter you), and is home to the fa­mous Waiki­ki beach. There’s a lot to see, so you’ll nev­er be bored or short of ad­ven­tures.

The Fab­u­lous Pho at Lov­ing Hut - Rice noo­dles, soy pro­tein, gluten and mush­rooms served with fresh basil and bean­sprouts

Most re­cent­ly, I went to Oahu on my first holi­day as a ve­g­an. I was excit­ed to go and see what I could find. As I re­searched, I dis­cov­ered Hap­py Cow, which gave me a list of places to eat. I al­so found some fun blogs de­tail­ing ve­g­an ad­ven­tures. Luck­i­ly, ‘ve­g­an’ is a word eas­i­ly un­der­s­tood in Oahu, and, for those who don’t un­der­s­tand it, a love of read­ing la­bels and menus will hold you in good stead.

In Oahu there are two pure ve­g­an res­tau­rants, Lov­ing Hut (an eter­nal favou­rite around the globe), and the Peace Café which opened in May this year. Since th­ese are the on­ly pure­ly ve­g­an res­tau­rants, you will have to ask some ques­tions when eat­ing else­where; but in do­ing this you will un­cov­er the most de­li­cious sur­pris­es.

Diamond Head Lookout, Oahu

Sasha at the top of the Di­a­mond Head look­out at sun­rise, an hour-long hike up a steep path­way!

I went along with a bunch of non-ve­g­an friends on this trip, and the truth is I didn’t find it dif­fi­cult to eat with them, even though there is a meat and fish (dairy and eg­gs be­ing a hid­den in­gre­di­ent) eat­ing cul­ture in Oahu. An ex­am­ple of this is the tra­di­tio­n­al Lu­aus—which I didn’t par­ti­ci­pate in­—where they roast a pig in her en­tire­ty. This breaks my heart. And, on an ad­ven­ture through Chi­na town, I saw a now-life­less sow be­ing wheeled through the streets. But whilst the Hawaiian cul­ture doesn’t em­brace a di­et of plant-based foods, en­cour­ag­ing­ly I found that they do have many plant-based op­tions.

When I ar­rived in Hon­olu­lu, I went along Ala Moa­na Boul­e­vard to my favou­rite Mex­i­can res­tau­rant, Wa­hoo Fish Ta­cos, and, while you can tell from the name it isn’t ve­g­an, it has a de­li­cious black bean and rice sal­ad com­bo that you can make up from their ‘side­kicks’ menu. There is al­so a ve­g­an veg­gie bowl. I al­ways re­c­om­mend you ask them if their beans and veg­gies are cooked in but­ter; in this case they aren’t.

Hotel room breakfasts!

Ho­tel room break­fasts!

For break­fasts, I found my way up Kuhio Av­enue to Ruffage Na­t­u­ral Foods, which is al­so a su­per­mar­ket with loads of ve­g­an-friend­ly treats you can take back to your ho­tel room. My favou­rite cooked break­fast on this trip was a mind-blow­ing to­fu scram­ble. I al­so stocked up on Al­mond Breeze, which I can on­ly hope will one day be avai­l­able in Aus­tralia. Al­mond milk is de­li­cious on peanut but­ter puffins’ ce­re­al and shredd­ed wheat. It’s al­so great with ba­na­na and peanut but­ter smoothies—a theme is be­gin­n­ing to de­vel­op!

The Ala Moa­na Cen­tre has loads of cheap ve­g­an op­tions. The Food­works su­per­mar­ket down­s­tairs has a sal­ad bar from which you can cre­ate a five-dol­lar sal­ad, with rice, beans and gua­ca­mole. Vim and Vi­g­or on the ground floor has ve­g­an mu­su­bi, a warm sushi-like rice bite. Fi­nal­ly, there is the Crack Seed Cen­tre, where you can get the most amaz­ing pre­served fruit and nuts, a must for the cu­ri­ous ve­g­an.

It's a hard life

Through­out the day you can catch com­muter bus­es that go around the is­land, and you can ran­dom­ly get off and walk along the beach­es. Fresh trop­i­cal fruit is avai­l­able ev­ery­where. I snacked on man­goes, pa­paya and pineap­ple slices through­out my trip. Ve­g­an smoothies and juices are as read­i­ly avai­l­able, so it’s not dif­fi­cult to get what you need.

For lunch­es, I found beans and rice, to­fu wraps and sand­wich­es. Down to Earth, a health food store with sev­er­al is­land lo­ca­tions has a deli on-site with loads of ve­g­an op­tions. Here I munched on ve­g­an bur­ri­tos and hot sand­wich­es. The sweets de­part­ment wasn’t too bad ei­ther: it was here that I dis­cov­ered dark cho­co­late coat­ed ca­cao nibs. There’s al­so Gen­ki Sushi, which has a num­ber of ve­g­an op­tions, in­clud­ing sushi rice, veg­gie sushi, eda­mame, age­dashi to­fu (no boni­to flakes—spe­cial or­der), which are filling and de­li­cious.

In the ’burbs of Hon­olu­lu, there is Whole­foods Ka­ha­la, which has lots of ve­g­an quick bites, as well as ve­g­an make-up, and beau­ty prod­ucts ga­lore (I was in ve­g­an heav­en). Thanks to my friend La­gus­ta, I found Su­per Pho, the most amaz­ing pho noo­dle res­tau­rant ev­er! It was tricky to get to, but worth the trek. On another day, I caught a bus with one of my friends to Kailua, which is on the trade winds side of the is­land, to sneak on­to a pri­vate beach; and at The Source we found de­li­cious ve­g­an sand­wich­es.

Taberu Koto at Hale

Taberu ko­to at Hale, and a close up of the de­li­cious Teriya­ki tem­peh with lo­tus root

In Waiki­ki at night there are a bunch of Ja­pa­nese hole-in-the-wall cafes, as well as my favou­rite Oahu res­tau­rant, Hale. Here the ve­g­an and the mac­ro­bi­ot­ic lifestyle col­lide. While it’s not ex­clu­sive­ly ve­g­an, most of the dish­es are. I have to say that I ate there many times. I could rare­ly go past the teriya­ki tem­peh with lo­tus root, and the TLT (tem­peh, let­tuce and to­ma­to). Th­ese dish­es were like noth­ing I have ev­er eat­en be­fore, and all my friends were made to have din­n­er there. They loved it! On the dessert menu were brownies that melt­ed in your mouth, and the cho­co­late mousse … mmm, words can’t de­scribe how yum­my they were!

There are many other ve­g­an-friend­ly res­tau­rants, cafes and hole-in-the-walls to check out on the is­land, so make sure you stop by Hap­py Cow for the lat­est de­tails. I hope this snap­shot of Oahu makes your de­ci­sion for a ve­g­an trop­i­cal get­away easi­er to make. I know it won’t be the last time that I’ll be drink­ing from a co­conut on one of its gor­geous beach­es.

Sasha James

About the Author | Sasha James

Sasha is a Mel­bourne ve­g­an who loves both trav­el­ing and bak­ing with an equal pas­sion. She is com­mitt­ed to liv­ing a cru­el­ty-free lifestyle and wants to en­cour­age others to do the same. "I love be­ing ve­g­an" she says, "and it's easy!

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  • now i really feel like going to Hawaii…

  • I’m going to hawaii in may. thx for the ideas, that’s great! :)

  • hi sasha! thanks so much for the tips :) and we can buy almond breeze at coles can’t we? i am certain i have bought that brand…