Best of 2009

2009 was definitely the year of the Veg & Green lifestyle.  From Ellen to Oprah, Tal Ronnen to Alicia Silverstone, Gardein to Daiya, the last year of the decade was a veritable vegan, health & eco fireworks extravaganza! So I figured I'd compile my faves of the last year in case any of you missed them so that you can enjoy them well into the new decade ; )

Restaurants
  • Veggie Grill -  www.veggiegrill.com - Los Angeles & Orange County, CA -Hands down, Veggie Grill made it's biggest waves in 2009.  One of the best vegan fast food chains, everyone is hoping to spread ou nationwide in the new decade.
  • Pizza Fusion - www.pizzafusion.com - Nationwide - Angelenos were so excited when Pizza Fusion came to town from the North East! Featuring all sorts of pizzas including vegan and gluten free, you can't go wrong here.
  • Z Pizza - www.zpizza.com - Nationwide - Yet another Pizza chain that has crossed the country and delighting the dairy free folk! Z Pizza switched to the remarkable Daiya Vegan Cheese this year bringing smiles to their new vegan patrons nation wide ; )
  • Cruzer Pizza - Los Angeles, CA - A local pizza joint that got wise to the untapped vegan market and began offering vegan pizzas, lasagnas, chik'n parms & more! In addition, their first location ditched traditional pizzas and went completely vegan - woohoo!
  • Locali - www.localiyours.com - Los Angeles, CA -  This awesome convenience store has everything a veggie and/or treehugger could need in addition to a rockin' deli and ice cream cart! So glad they came on the scene strong in '09!
  • Portobello Trattoria - www.portobellopdx.com - Portland, OR - Having just opened before my visit to this vegan mecca of a town,  Portobello has been filling up  every day since they opened their doors.  And rightfully so, incredible food!
  • Plum - www.plumbistroseattle.com - Seattle, WA - One of the newer veggie locales in Seattle, it's  chic and cool and stands out amongst the wide variety of veg options in the capital of the great North West.
  • SAF - www.safrestaurant.co.uk - London, England - The premiere, all raw, vegan joint in old blighty. Classy, gourmet and delish, Great Britain is really picking up speed in the veggie food world.
  • V Bites - www.vbites.com - London, England - Another new and rockin' veg spot in London Town. Owned by Ms. Heather Mills, whether you like her or not, V Bites is pretty boss ; )
  • Loving Hut - www.lovinghut.fr - Paris, France - There are Loving Huts all over the world but finding vegan fare in France is next to impossible. They were smart to open up in the city of love in '09 so if all else fails, you know you've got at least 1 spot to chow ; )
Hotels
  • Kimpton Hotels - www.kimptonhotels.com - Nationwide - Some of the hipest, neatest, artsiest hotels around that are hugely eco, greatly accomodating to veggies & special diest on top of being uber pet friendly. Check them out to see if there is a Kimpton at your next destination - they've got the U.S. covered and continue to grow!
  • Olive 8 - www.olive8.hyatt.com - Seattle, WA - Brand spankin' new in '09, this is a state of the art eco hotel in the heart of Seattle. So awesome!
Food & Beverage Products
  • Daiya Cheese - www.daiyafoods.com - To vegans, this has become the holy grail of vegan cheese. Melty, yummy and totally allergen free, it's no wonder we are all head over heels for Daiya!
  • Gardein - www.gardein.com - Made most famous by Veggie Grill & Tal Ronnen, this line of mock meats is to die for.  Made with wonderful ingredients and not processy or chemically like most phony bolognas, '09 was a great year for Gardein. We're all excited to see more from their product line as well as finding them pop up in all sorts of restaurants.
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream - www.turtlemountain.com - Debuting their non-soy ice cream alternative, the pioneers of non-dairy ice cream did it again. And even better if I do say so myself!
  • Veev - www.veevlife.com - Accai Spirit, great straight or mixed! A great spirit that is eco and even healthy!
  • Go Max Go Foods - www.gomaxgofoods.com - Vegan Candy Bars! Need I say more??
Health Products
  • To Go Brands -  www.togobrands.com - One of my fave fins of '09. Packets such as Go Greens that gives you 6 servings of green veggies in 1 pack as well as Green Tea Energy, Vitamin C and more, you can't pick a more healthful option this year!
  • Vega - www.sequelnaturals.com/en/vega -I know vega has been around for some time however, it has gotten some big attention this year by so many veggie advocates. it is THE best whole food supplement out there being allergen free and full of the best stuff on earth ; )
  • Psi Bands - www.psibands.com -  I used these all years for all my crazy road trips and they rule! Acupressure wrist bands for the relief of nausea due to morning sickness (pregnancy), motion sickness/ travel, chemotherapy, and anesthesia. They are stylish, drug-free, adjustable, comfortable, waterproof, reusable,  and affordable.
Lifestyle Products - Home
  • GameWhys -  www.thegreenboardgame.com -Anotehr one of my absolute favorites of 2009. The prettiest, smartest, most entertaining & beautifully messaged games I have ever played.  I love the board games as well as the card games. Fun for all for years to come!
  • Wow Green - www.wowgreen.net -I fell in love with these enzyme based household cleaning products this year and so will you. Eco friendly, safe for your family & pets and the best part is that they really work!
  • Ionator - www.activeion.com - The coolest, eco & money saving cleaning product ever! The ionator is a powerful appliance that uses ionizing technology to convert tap water into a safe, effective cleaner and sanitizer.
  • Pillo1 - www.pillo1.com It's unique design is built for side and back sleep and gives ultimate neck support which keeps your back aligned all night long.  Great sleep equals great days, health & productivity.
  • Pong - www.pongresearch.com - After much research, the Pong Iphone case came out this year to keep us safe from cell phone radiation. Coming soon for blackberry, this stylish case reduces over 85% of "hot spot" radiation, redirecting the flow of energy away from the head. And it's the only FCC certified case on the market!
Lifestyle Products - Travel
  • To-Go Ware -  www.to-goware.com - Fabulous utensils & containers to take with you anywhere you go! Made of bamboo and recycled materials, a To-Go Ware set is the perfect stocking stuffer for the eco person on your list. Definitely in my top 5 fave finds of the year!
  • Love Bottles - www.lovebottle.net -  The rage is BPA free bottles and the slick aluminum ones with neat designs. But drinking from glass is the best way to imbibe your daily H2O and Love Bottles has the neatest designs around.  Carry your healthiest water in style and be the envy of all your work out friends ; ) I use mine every day!
  • Select Wisely Cards - www.selectwisely.com -The neatest thing for travelers with dietary restrictions. Affordable, portable and smart - select wisely!!
  • Green Garmento -www.thegreengarmento.com - This eco bag is a hamper, laundry bag, duffel bag and also a great way to pick up your dry cleaning without wasting so much plastic.
Fashion
  • Annatarian -  www.annatarian.com -Again, this line has been aorund but in '09, their PeaceLoveEarth eco jewelry line took the cake.  Gotta love the 7 wishes bracelet no matter what time of the year.
  • Matt & Nat - www.mattandnat.com -  For luxury, vegan & eco handbags and accessories, you can't go wrong with anything from Matt & Nat.  Super chic bags, no one will know they aren't fresh off the European runways. From clutches to diaper bags, introduce your gal to accessorizing the eco way! (they've got some nice goodies for men too!)
  • Espe -www.espe.ca - I found them this year as well - 100% vegan, cruelty free accessories such as wallets, cell phone pouches, computer bags and more, their colorful and handcrafted designs are great for gals of all ages. And they too have not forgotten about their male counterparts. Super cute stuff!!
  • Beyond Yoga - www.iambeyond.com -  Their new organic line is beautiful! From yoga pants to jackets, built in bra tops to wraps, they've got it all. For your work out or you night out, Beyond Yoga helps you strike an organic and stylish pose ; )
Books
  • The China Study - www.thechinastudy.com - It will change your life, enough said. Best book of '09!
  • Why We Don't Eat Animals - www.wedonteatanimals.com - Adorable, sweet and thought provoking.
  • Quantum Wellness: A 21 Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind & Spirit - www.kathyfreston.com - Kathy explains her ideas so well and in an easy to understand fashion that anyone can grasp how to help themselves live better. With help from lots of health pros, this is just a great read with tons of helpful advice.
Cookbooks
  • The Conscious Cook - www.talronnen.com - One of the yummiest vegan cookbooks around
  • The Kind Diet - www.thekindlife.com - A nice intro to veganism from beginners to advanced plant eaters. Filled with delish recipes too ; )
  • Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar - Dude, how can this brand new book not rock with a title like that!
Cooking Products
  • 360 CookWare -  www.360cookware.com - Vapor cooking technology in beautiful, eco-friendly pots and pans that are not only durable and sustainable but healthy ; )
  • Eat Cleaner - www.eatcleaner.com - This is a great, affordable and health promotion gift. The coolest is the "Wash & Dryer" kit for veggies!
  • Green Pots - www.greencookingpots.com - Giving La Creuset a run for their money, these eco-enamel pots and pans are the healthiest, most stylish way to cook ; )
Shopping Websites
  • Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe - www.cosmosveganshoppe.com -A virtual vegan market
  • Allison's Gourmet - www.allisonsgourmet.com - Who can deny that the gift of killer chocolate isn't on their top 5? Allison's offers a wide variety of scrumptious vegan confections and cookies that are available as single items, gift baskets or "of the month" club deliveries.
  • Herbivore -  www.herbivoreclothing.com -Vegan clothing, books, accessories, nick knacks and more!
  • Vegan Collection - www.thevegancollection.com - Guys get left out a lot when it comes to shopping, especially for vegan clothes, shoes, etc.  Not anymore thanks to these guys!
  • Healthy Voyager Wine Club - www.healthyvoyager.com - Featuring organic, biodynamic & sustainable wines, delivered to your door, every month!
Resource Websites
  • VegNews.com - www.vegnews.com - Their new and improve site offers up everything from great recipes to veg celeb gossip - great stuff!
  • VegWeb.com- www.vegweb.com - Sister site to VegNews, this site is chock full of great recipes and other veggie goodies ; )
  • PCRM.org - www.pcrm.org - Physicians Commitee for Responsible Medicine is one of the best resources of 2009. From their 21-day vegan kickstarts to directories of holistic physicians, PCRM is the place for ultimate health.
  • Vegetarian Times Magazine www.vegetariantimes.com - Eat green, live well
  • Ecofabulouswww.ecofabulous.com - All you need for a chic, sustainable lifestyle
  • EcoStiletto.comwww.ecostiletto.com - Making your carbon footprint small & fashionable
  • FitMenuwww.fitmenu.net - Find low fat, low cal, healthy, meals a your favorite eateries
Movies & TV
  • Food Inc. - www.foodincmovie.com - You'll never look at dinner the same way again!
  • The Cove - www.thecovemovie.com - An unabashed look at what goes on when big business meets the deep blue sea
  • Planet Green - www.planetgreen.discovery.com - The station for everything Eco
  • Sea Shepherd - www.seashepherd.org - On Discovery as well as Animal Planet, this groundbreaking show has made a big splash in prime time ; )
  • District 9 - www.d-9.com - I loved this movie just for pure entertainment value but it's also such a great illustration of spec-ism!
Celebs
  • Ellen Degeneres - www.ellen.warnerbros.com - Coming out as a vegan this year and launching her Halo brand of food for pets gets her tied for my #1 spot.  People love Ellen and I love what she is doing for the health of her viewers ans their pets. Keep dancin' girl!
  • Tal Ronnen -  www.www.talronnen.com - Tied with Ellen for 1st place is my buddy Tal.  Helping Gardein become the yummiest meat substitute around, helping Oprah with her 21 day vegan cleanse and writing and insanely awesome vegan cookbook all in '09? I can't wait to see what he's got up his sleeve in 2010 and beyond ; )
  • Dr. Oz - www.doctoroz.com - Getting his start from the queen of daytime, Doc Oz has shed light on healthier living and knows how to get folks to listen. Taking us all to the emerald city of health & eco-ness!
  • Alicia Silverstone - www.thekindlife.com - Making her big comeback in the most positive of ways was former teen sensation, Alicia Silverstone.  Launching her Kind Life blog and her beloved new book, The Kind Diet, she sure knew how to make her re-entrance ; )
  • Kathy Freston - www.kathyfreston.com - Another gal who made her way into our healthy zeitgeist. She has aligned herself with the health world's top people and been able to connect with the top celebs to get the healthy word out. Keep on keepin' on!
  • Jason Mraz - www.jasonmraz.com - The vegan songster has done it again with a new hit record and tour (named after a raw vegan restaurant in San Fran). He's just fun and uplifting and so I thought I'd give him some props for a good show in '09 ; )
Cities
  • Los Angeles - Having lived here as a vegan for more then a decade now, I saw LA blow up the vegan landscape this year like no year that preceded it. My few options are now almost to many to choose from!
  • Portland - I've said many times before that Portland is Vegan Heaven. And having freinds in the area over the years, I know that this year it held on to its title by continuing to add more for us health nuts ; )
  • London - England has always had a bad reputation when it came to its cuisine. I'm here to say that that they have overcome that with flying colors and this year, the advent of even more Veg friendly options and eateries puts London in my top 10 best cities to dine ; )
  • Bogota, Colombia, S.A. - I never thought I'd see the day that my home country of meat, potatoes and rice would be growing into it's own little vegan paradise.  I've seen so many veggie spots pop up there this year and I'm so very proud!
Charity
  • HOW - www.helpinghow.com - Growing exponentially this year, HOW is a wonderful organization. Check in to how to donate time or money to helping orphans all over the world.
  • Talk About It - www.talkaboutit.org - Founded this year and helped along my Hollywood's elite, this organization is doing wonders for those who suffer from epilepsy. Help those who have trouble coping with epilepsy as well as helping spread awareness.
  • Generation Rescue - www.generationrescue.org - Jenny McCarthy's loud mouth helped this foundation quite a bit this years. Help families affected by autism by donating time and money to help promote therapies, awareness and more.
  • Twitter-A-Critter -  www.adoptapet.com - Also launched this year as a spin off of adoptapet.com and using the booming social networking site Twitter to its advantage.  A quick and easy way to help an animal in need, genius!

I urge you all to look into these products, services, places & people as they are all helpful in living a healthier and happier life. I'm sure 2010 will be even bigger and for that, I'm uber excited!!

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