Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maui - The Vegan Capital of the World!

I just returned from Maui, where we bought some property earlier this year.  I have always yearned for a place on Maui, but had just assumed that if we ever bought a place, it would be a small condo somewhere near Kihei – the touristy side of the island that I was most familiar with.  In a surprising and seriously synchronistic chain of events, Mark and I ended up buying 8 acres in Haiku with a Vegan Farm Sanctuary on it (www.LeilaniFarmSanctuary.org) … and I anticipate that it will be one of the best things we have ever done.

Why do I bring this up here, in my vegan blog?  I bring it up because I consider Maui to be the “Vegan Capital of the World,” especially the North Shore, where the towns of Pa’ia and Haiku are famous for their vegan and raw food populations and their focus on spirituality. 

Just about all restaurants in the area actively offer vegan options, and there are three restaurants in Haiku/Pa’ia that are 100% vegan - The Fresh Mint, Veg Out and Prana Nui.  Even in large cities, 100% vegan restaurants are hard to come by, much less in small towns like Haiku and Pa’ia.  Non-vegan restaurants here almost always offer vegan options – the Pa’ia Burrito at Maui Tacos is perfect when you’re starving after a long day at the beach, and the Vegan Pizza at Flatbread is to die for.

Local tourist shops carry a lot of vegan clothing, hats and gifts, reflecting Maui’s natural focus on preserving our resources and being kind to the earth.  You’ll see a lot of people hitchhiking – many who are young surfers that can’t afford a car, but others who simply choose not to own a car and contribute to polluting our air.

The grocery store in Pa’ia – Mana Foods – is literally crammed with vegan options, and you’ll bump into people as you squeeze between the vegan frozen soft-serve and the hot-from-the-oven vegan scones.  They don’t just carry a few brands of soymilk – they carry pretty much all brands, and the same goes for all other types of vegan substitutes.  For those feeling a little lazy at dinner time, Mana’s vegan frozen food section goes as far as the eye can see, and their produce section is packed with straight-from-the-trees/ground produce that is delivered fresh from local farmers.  Their deli is a vegan smorgasbord, making it very difficult to decide what to eat for lunch, and includes a fantastic salad bar with all your naughty favorites – macaroni salad, potato salad, etc – all done vegan! 

While you’re in Mana Foods, spend some time reading the community bulletin board.  Here, you’ll find information on vegan cooking classes, raw food retreats, yoga and meditation classes, and a multitude of spiritual gatherings.  If you’re in need of a serious health cleanse, take up residence at The Temple of Peace, where they’ll feed you raw food and juice you for several days.

I never found it that challenging to travel as a vegan … I can always find a salad, some veggie sushi or a veggie pizza with no cheese.  But on the other hand, I rarely find vegan culinary delights when I travel.  Maui is different.  If you’re looking for an amazing getaway, lots of sun, activities and like-minded vegans, head to Maui.  To really get enmeshed in the vegan community, stay at the North Shore and immerse yourself in the community by going to classes, gatherings and meetups.  Who knows … if Maui calls to you, you too, might soon call Maui home!


  1. Yowza! Makes me want to move there. I've always had Hawaii in the back of my mind since my wife and I spent our honeymoon on Kauai (and didn't want to ever leave). This sounds idyllic. Do you plan to host guest chefs? Not kidding ;-)

  2. There are plenty of organizations bringing out guest chefs! Try the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii. :) I may have opportunities that I hear of soon too. I'll let you know!

  3. I'm going to be staying @ the Four Seasons at Wailea because I won a trip and I'm not sure which is the better plan: stay put at the luxury resort and hope to find enough vegan options on what are likely to be overpriced menus, or venture out on ground transportation looking for other restaurants.

  4. I've done both - I've stayed at the Grand Wailea or Fairmont several times for work meetings, and had to eat at the restaurants. They will definitely have delicious vegan options for you, either on the menu or if you ask, and you will be well-taken care of. However, they will probably be exorbitantly expensive! Down the road in Kihea, you will find Hawaiian Moons Natural foods store with a good deli for lunch. Maui Tacos makes a mean vegan burrito next door (Pa'ia burrito). Mala (in the Marriott) has great views and an awesome (and very filling) Gado Gado salad at a reasonable price for Wailea. For your best vegan options, though, head over to Pa'ia. You'll have more to choose from, and will likely feel more at home surrounded by happy vegans on that side of the island!

  5. Got back from Wailea. While Maui may be a vegan capital (is Maui just a county or is it an incorporated city as well?), Wailea is not very vegan friendly in my opinion. I will post my experiences and tips if people are interested. I am posting up reviews through Yahoo local (which I can only do with my Ipad mini since the security on my laptop seems to interfere with the scripts). But I did also get the Gado Gado salad at Mala and just as Sarah said, it is very filling. This restaurant was the only one I went to that had an actual "vegan" menu (albiet a very small one!) They also served chips with tomatillo salsa and edamame pureee, which gives you some extra food (compared to Ferraro's which skimps on food and ups the price!) The only problem with this order is that it only came with 1/2 the amount of dressing needed, so you have to request another dressing and unfortunately, the waitress was not very attentive.