You Won't Go Hungry In Hawaii
By Shari Black Velvet


I never envisaged myself visiting Hawaii but when an unexpected trip which involved seeing a couple of concerts and other events was announced, I knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience. So after booking a flight and getting uber-excited, I did what I usually do before going abroad, or to any place I rarely venture – and hopped over to ever-helpful to see what vegan places were available in the area. I printed out a list, (got even more excited) and away we went…

Well, Hawaii is probably not the best US state as far as vegan diners and stores… but it does have a bunch of vegan-friendly places, so we didn’t go hungry. In fact, I came back home with a packed suitcase full of goodies! My particular landing place was Honolulu – in the district of Waikiki. I was quite ecstatic when I discovered that Ruffage Natural Foods (2442 Kuhio St., Wakiki, Honolulu, Oahu, HI. Tel. 808-922-2042) was on the very same street as my hotel the first night. It was a 5 minute walk away and has apparently been there for 30 years. The place is both a store and diner. Although it wasn’t 100% vegan/vegetarian it does sell many vegetarian and vegan options. Vegans could have the vegan burger, chilli dog (without the cheese), tofu scramble, many of the protein/fruit smoothies and more. The store was fairly small but had lots of good items including cookies, energy bars, crisps, chewing gum, body care, drinks and more (I'll tell you later if the Desert Essence Age Renewal face cream and eye cream that I bought work!).

While at Ruffage I was told about their new sister location, Veggie Star, which had just opened 3 weeks previous. This was about a five minute walk away, by the Aqua Waikiki Pearl Hotel (417 Nahua Street, Honolulu, HI 96815 Tel. 808-922-9568). Run by the same people, this store/diner is open till 9pm, unlike Ruffage’s 6pm close. It looks a lot newer than Ruffage and is very clean and fresh inside. The owner of Veggie Star/Ruffage is very friendly and helpful and offered us a free sample of the vegan chilli that he was making. If I’d have been in Hawaii longer I would have definitely kept going back to Veggie Star and Ruffage. The prices were decent, they were in a convenient location within walking distance and the food and drinks were tasty. I took my two Japanese meat-eating friends and one Italian friend and all enjoyed the meals. The only downside was Veggie Star or Ruffage weren’t bigger (they didn’t have items you might expect or want such as Luna Bars or Tings - although did have other similar items) – or 100% vegan!

Inside Veggie Star

Thanks to a friend in Honolulu with a car, I was able to go to the Honolulu branch of Wholefoods one morning. It is situated at Kahala Mall, 4211 Wai'alae Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96816 USA. Tel 808.738.0820. Like every Wholefoods in the US it is packed with products and is a must-stop for vegans. The store has aisles of vegan and vegetarian food (we won’t mention the non-veggie food) and you’ll find your mouth watering less than 2 minutes after entering the store. I definitely came out with a big bag full of goodies. In fact it's times like these that I wish I travel with a bigger suitcase! They have a deli section where you can order some food to eat in or take out, but we opted to go over to Down To Earth next and see what they had on offer...

Down To Earth (, 2525 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826 Tel. 808 947-7678) is probably the best place for vegans. The store is 100% vegetarian. It’s a decent size, looks great from the outside (with a very pretty logo above the doors) and full of exciting products inside. I couldn’t resist the vegan marshmallow treats made by Glennys. I bought a box of chocolate ones and a box of vanilla ones – aiming to bring them home with me to the UK – only they were all eaten before I landed! They were almost all gone before I’d even taken off! After spending a lot at Wholefoods and the thought of how my suitcase couldn’t possibly fit anything else in, I tried to contain myself – but just had to have the marshmallow treats if nothing else! We then found the diner section and had the hard choice of deciding which of the vegan meals to go for. I ended up having a veggie dog as I hadn’t had one so far on the trip and a vanilla vegan soy milk shake. Down To Earth has an eating area up a small set of stairs, as well as a few tables outside the main front doors. You can find their whole menu which includes mock chicken patty, veggie burgers, mock tuna salad subs and burritos at

The last place I managed to visit was Hale, (, 1427 Makaloa St, Honolulu Hawaii 96814. Tel 808-944-1555) which boasts ‘organic vegan’ cuisine on the window. Hale sells more Japanese style food than American. There were no burgers or veggie dogs… it was very healthy and macrobiotic. The menu includes Teriyaki Tempeh, Sweet & Sour Veggie Meat, Seitan Cutlet… rice (my favourite food... NOT). Thankfully for any unhealthy freaks like myself they did have a side of fries available! Their desserts were particularly nice and include Mochi Waffle, Chocolate Mousse and Pumpkin Pudding. Hale is a decent sized restaurant and the waiters were very gracious and helpful.

Well, time flew by fast and all too soon my five day trip to Hawaii was over. I didn’t get to try out all the veggie/vegan-friendly places on my list – but just the above were more than substantial for me and I could happily have gone back and eaten at them again and again and again. If you ever say aloha to Hawaii, be sure to check out these places. They get the velvety thumbs up from and if you're anything like me, you will be in heavenly paradise in each and every one of them. Who needs a beach when the food joints are this good?!





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