Vegetarian Whole30 Options in Chicago

Well friends, we have a new year to enjoy! 2016 had some lovely moments (Greece, a World Series win, lots of coffee, etc.) but I’m more than ready to welcome 2017.

After a long road trip (Detroit, Niagara Falls, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Cincinnati – whew!) and LOTS of holiday fun, it’s hard not to feel a little….fluffy. When a group of girls decided to do Whole30 this month, I jumped on the bandwagon.

Whole 30 in Chicago

The idea behind Whole30 is getting back to the basics with unprocessed food. The plan strips lots of foods (sugar, dairy, and even legumes) from your diet for a full 30 days. Whole30’s founder,  claims that even “healthy” foods can be hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory, and psychologically unhealthy. These are the main rules:

  • – No added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, xylitol, stevia, etc. Nada.
  • – No grains, even sneaky ones on labels. This includes wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, bulgur, buckwheat, sprouted grains and “all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa.”
  • – No legumes (all the beans you normally think of, plus peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts). Any kind of soy is also a hard no – miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the sneaky-label soy like soy lecithin.
  • – No alcohol in any form
  • – No dairy.
  • – No carrageenan, MSG or added sulfites.
  • – This one was new for me: You aren’t supposed to re-create junk food or treats with Whole30-approved ingredients. Stuff like protein pancakes and paleo banana bread is out.
  • – No weighing yourself, counting calories, or taking body measurements during the program.

….but they didn’t take my coffee (THANK GOD)

While most people do Whole30 with LOTS of meat, I’ll be doing it as a vegetarian. Whole30 recognized that vegetarians may want to use the plan and provides this useful shopping list.

But if you’re busy as hell, there are going to be times when you need food on the go. In Chicago, land of pizza and hot dogs, I was a little worried about finding options. Luckily, the city has plenty of Whole30-friendly spots!  I should note that Whole30 discourages drinking your meals in the form of fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies, but there are plenty of solid food options here – and in an emergency, I think they’d rather have you drinking a smoothie than eating a Big Mac.

Check out my finds below – and let me know if there’s a great one I missed:


Left Coast

Left Coast is my savior when I am up in Lakeview. The place is so bright and cozy that I could work here all day. Their menu includes juice and smoothies, plus salads and hashes that can easily be made into the stuff of Whole30 dreams.

Snap Kitchen

Snap Kitchen is a quick stop when you’re on the go. With multiple locations around the city, there’s a good chance you’re near one at all times. They have grab-and-go snack options like hard boiled eggs and veggies, but watch out – plenty of the healthy-but-not-Whole30 dishes include grains or dairy. Since the meals are pre-packaged, they can’t be modified.

Where to get Whole 30 meals on the go in Chicago

True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen is a new addition to River North, and a much-needed one. The casual restaurant’s menu is based on anti-inflammatory foods, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. Many of their menu items can be modified to fit the Whole30 guidelines.


Hi-Vibe is my little piece of California in Chicago. The entire staff is smiley and pretty in that “I woke up like this way,” and it’s an organic juicery that offers way more than juice. The Skinny Genes juice is my pick (grapefruit, basil, jalapeño, and other good stuff), and the acai bowls are worth every penny. The plan emphasizes that fruit juices are not really to be consumed as a meal replacement/full beverage, so try to stick to their vegetable blends. They also serve bulletproof coffee, which is super filling and Whole30 compliant if ghee is used.

Chicago Raw

Chicago Raw‘s delicious raw, vegan meals are already mostly vegetables, so it makes finding vegetarian Whole30 approved meals fairly easy here. They have three locations: one in French Market, one in Streeterville Whole Foods, and one in Gold Coast. Their hazelnut basil pesto is everything.


Oh, sweetgreen. This super popular salad place is new to Chicago, but has lots of fans on either coast. I was happy to discover that their customizable salads are easy to make into a big vegetarian Whole30 meal. Pro tip: get the lime cilantro jalapeño dressing. It is lime juice, cilantro, ground jalapeno, and olive oil – no sweeteners, which isn’t true for every one of their dressings.

Real Good Juice Co.

I’m obsessed with Real Good Juice Co because I think they have the best smoothies in the city. There’s a location in Old Town (conveniently next to FlyWheel) and also one in the West Loop Whole Foods. There are a few ingredients in their smoothies and juices that aren’t included in Whole30, so watch out for stuff like maple syrup, honey, and brown rice protein.


KitchFix is a gluten-free and paleo food delivery service – two promising terms when searching for Whole 30 meals. There is also a KitchFix storefront in Gold Coast. They have the usual smoothies and coffee, but also offer their packaged meals that you can grab quickly. The best part? You don’t have to figure out what is Whole30! They did it for you!

How to Find Whole 30 Food in Chicago

Karyn’s Raw

I personally haven’t visited Karyn’s yet, but the menu is huge, so I’m confident I could find vegetarian Whole30 options here. As always, there are plenty of healthy menu items that might not comply with Whole30, so reading ingredient lists will be essential. The entire Karyn’s systems (Karyn’s Raw, Karyn’s Fresh Corner, and Karyn’s Cooked) is 100% vegan (except honey) – pretty rare in Chicago!

I’ll definitely do a post-Whole30 update! Have you tried Whole30? Are you jumping into 2017 with healthy eating?

Cheers (with water, I guess),


Whole30 Survival Kit