Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
What would you do if your daughter was working on Maui for 2 months with Americorps-NCCC? A family trip to visit her seemed like one way to spend spring break. It wasn’t the easiest choice – the 18 hours of travel each way wasn’t something any of us looked forward to – still, we decided that this was an opportunity not to be missed. We were on Maui, the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, for about four days.
One of the very first places that we stopped was at Yee’s fruit stand in Kihei. Yee’s is one of the oldest mango farms on Maui. I asked the woman running the fruit stand where her farm was and she pointed to the road behind the stand. It doesn’t get much more local! The stand had at least 4 kinds of mangos as well as several kinds of papayas and other fruits. I had never appreciated how different kinds of mangos can taste. Our favorite was Golden Glow – sweet, mild, and juicy.
Maui has several natural foods stores that are well-stocked with produce and packages of food. The two stores where we shopped also had salad bars and a deli-counter that makes sandwiches and smoothies. In Paia, we stopped a couple of times at Mana Foods. They have a very large selection of organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Some favorites from their salad bar included tofu eggless salad,
Hawaiian fern salad, green papaya salad, and kale salad. All vegan salads are clearly labeled and the selection changes daily.
Close to the Maui airport, in Kahului, we found Down to Earth Natural Foods Store, Deli, and Cafe. This store is packed full of natural foods, including a produce section and bulk foods. They have both hot and cold food bars and make sandwiches to order. All items in the store are vegetarian; vegan items on the hot and cold bars are clearly labeled. They also have vegan baked goods. I felt as if I was at a VRG potluck when I had a plate of purple potato salad, vegan macaroni salad, cucumber salad, mixed greens, penne with sauce, and more from the salad bar. The store’s slogan is, “Cherish the land, live in health and harmony.” Here’s a picture that welcomes you at the front of the store.
One night we had dinner with a native of Maui and he took us to his favorite Thai restaurant, Bangkok Cuisine in Kahului. Knowing we were all vegans (he’s not), he ordered for us and clearly told the wait- staff to make everything vegan, including leaving off the fish sauce. They were very accommodating and the food was delicious. My favorite was a Thai green curry which was served with sticky rice. Our host instructed us to make little balls of the sticky rice and dip it into the sauce. Thai restaurants are in many parts of Maui – VRG’s website lists one that has a vegetarian menu.
For a quick dinner, we ate at Maui Tacos in Lahaina (other locations in Kihei, Kahului, and Napili). Their menu includes several burritos, tacos, and bowls that are or can easily be made vegan. Beans are cooked without lard (even the refried beans). I had the Vegetarian Bowl where the surprise was cooked potatoes (in addition to the more usual beans, rice, greens, tomatoes, and corn chips. A salsa bar lets you add just the right amount of heat.
A vegan that our daughter knows recommended Veg-Out, a vegetarian restaurant in Haiku. It was hard to decide which of the menu items to order. From a vegan pizza (6” is plenty for 1 hungry person) to Italian sandwiches, a Middle Eastern platter, large salads, burgers, pasta, burritos, tacos, and curries, this place has something to please everyone. I had a Muffalata sandwich with breaded tofu, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and a Cajun olive sauce on focaccia – great!
We decided to drive part-way to Hana, a town on Maui, southeast coast. On a drive to Hana, it’s the journey, not the destination. The road winds through bamboo groves and past banyan and eucalyptus trees. In some places, it’s only one lane wide as it goes across a narrow bridge or along the side of a cliff. The ocean is ever-present and in some places the sand is red, or black. The 50-or so mile drive can take all day. We never got to Hana but did get to Coconut Glen’s, a stand by the side of the road (between mile marker 27 and 28). Glen makes non-dairy ice cream from coconut milk and this is coconut ice cream like no other. It’s served in half a coconut shell with a piece of coconut rind used as a spoon. We had Coffee Toffee, Coconut Coconut (with homemade coconut candy mixed with coconut non-dairy ice cream), and Chili Chocolate Chipotle – all of which I could eat on a daily basis. We did ask about the marshmallows in one flavor and Glen wasn’t sure they were vegan; his website says his ice cream is organic and vegan.
There are many other places on Maui where we could have eaten. The list above only includes places we visited. For more information about veg dining on Maui see VRG’s restaurant guide.
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