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Journey to the Promised Land of Pasadena

To celebrate the anniversary of me leaving my home and vegan mecca, New York City, for the fiery, trafficated, actor-scape that is Los Angeles, I decided to go on a pilgrimage to the city that has always done right by me: Pasadena. I didn’t have a ton of time to begin with, and it was further shortened by said traffic, but I had a trifecta planned and I hit my locales in order of importance.

First stop was at the Alternative Outfitters showroom. I had bought footwear from their website before, but never been there in person and it was a great and also a terrible experience. Great because I bought three pairs of spicy new kicks. Terrible because I bought three pairs of spicy new kicks. If you’ve ever been to MooShoes in NY, then you’ll understand when I say that this place is its opposite. That is not a judgement, just sayin’–there are no cats, no Matt & Nat or Novacas products, and I could sort of afford to buy three pairs of spicy new kicks. Additionally, the employees were super friendly–one lady and I communed over our mutual love for Taco Bell, and there was a gentleman whose name and phone number I failed to catch, that was adorable-in-the-face as he listened to The Shins whilst filling your internet orders and swiping my Visa card.

Seeing as I ate at Taco Bell yesterday, the face-stuffing portion of the trip took place at Orean’s. If I had a gajillion Canadian dollars I would franchise the crap out of this vegan drive-thru. Did I say vegan drive-thru? YES, I DID. Orean’s is like edible magic. I’m not sure who Orean is or how he or she does it, but in purist junk food form, I had the BBQ tofu burger, air fries and a vanilla shake. The burger: check plus! And I don’t like big hunks of tofu as a general rule. It had so many ingredients it deserves some sort of jingle: tofu, onions, nayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, sprouts, BBQ sauce on a whole wheat bun. The fries: check double plus! Some of the best I’ve ever had, and that’s including ones that have been given a hot oil bath. These are cooked in the air!

The Milkshake: check plus also! I opted for plain vanilla, but I could’ve chosen chai, peanut butter, carob, cappuccino, strawberry, or “super green”. How often does a vegan get to say that?! Someday I hope to make it there before noon so I can get my mouth on a soysage-o-muffin and some of Orean’s own special pancakes, but in the meantime I have a serious stomach crush on their noon to late-night food items and good lookin’ graphics.

My last stop was H&M, which has not-so-much to do with veganism, but a lot to do with NY, and how there are what, 15 of them there now? When I got to LA one year ago there were none. Now there is a tiny one in Pasadena (no menswear!) and a bigger yet poorly organized one in the Beverly Center. I think I’d rather drive through Oklahoma again, where I was charged extra on two separate occasions to leave the meat out of things, than re-enter the Beverly Center Battledome. Don’t get me wrong, some people love it there, but from what I can tell, those people are mostly rich asian tourists who are looking to spend $2,700 on a Gucci keychain and don’t like the outdoorsyness of Rodeo Drive. All that to say, I basically just did a drive-by; bought nothing (I had just bought three pairs of shoes and SuperVegan ain’t payin’ the bills), and was out of there before I could even be bothered by their muzak.

So, in conclusion, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon in the ‘dena! There’s shoes, shakes, and in case I’m sounding vacuous, stunning masterpieces of art at both the Huntington and the Norton Simon Museums.


  1. Comment by


    on #

    I hate to rain on your Pasadenan parade, but I will never go to Orean again after my experience there a couple of years ago…

    After having been there several times and always asking the staff “Is everything vegan?”, I was always assured that everything on the menu was completely animal free. I then happened to glance at their Pancake and Waffle mix in the window which they sell to customers and noticed that one of the ingredients is casein which prompted me to ask which soy cheese they used and they would not give me an answer.

    Pissed off, I called the next day and asked the same question and again, they would not tell me. I asked for the manager and was told that they weren’t available so I asked if they could call me back and left my #. Predictably my call wasn’t returned so a week later I called again and asked simply if the soy-cheese they use contains casein. The person had me hold while they checked the ingredients and came back to confirm that yes – the cheese they use contains casein.

    Needless to say, I would not recommend that anyone go to Orean – vegan or not – due to their duplicitous actions. Eat there at your (vegan) peril!

  2. Comment by

    Laura Leslie

    on #

    Wow! Thank you, Andrea, for this awesome report. I will add Pasadena to my list of places I would like to visit someday.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    sounds lame.

  4. Comment by


    on #

    you sound eloquent, Al.