In his early 20s, William Ta dropped out of college and competitive skateboarding, searching for some deeper meaning to quell his quarter-life crisis.

That spiritual pursuit brought him to Taiwan, where he became a Buddhist monk, trading Vans for sandals and schoolwork for hours of meditative silence. As a monk, he studied similarities among religions and traveled to Cambodia, Costa Rica and Australia to build wells.

Ta had already given up meat as a sophomore in high school—a decision prompted by seeing a cow peek through the slats of a slaughterhouse-bound truck. “I could hear what she was saying,” Ta recalls. “She was saying, ‘I’m going to die for you to eat.’ I couldn’t get that out of my mind.”

But becoming a monk taught him the transformative power of a meat-free diet, to better one’s health and to protect the planet. “My life perspective totally changed,” says Ta, 45. “I want to make a difference with the vegan lifestyle. I believe it can change the planet.”

Plant Based Pizza, the tiny pizza parlor he opened up three years ago in Willow Glen, embodies that spiritually inspired view of the world, from the entirely vegan menu to the motivational quotes on the wall and recycled furniture. The menu at Plant Based offers more than a dozen, along with vegan burgers, paninis, calzone and salads. Slices go for $3.75, and come with all fresh veggies—nothing out of a can—and a tangy organic tomato sauce. Toppings include favorites like onions, olives and peppers, as well as carrots, artichoke hearts and vegan meats. The crust is light, blistered around the edges.

The Meatless Lover ($16.95 for a 12-inch pie), one of 14 specialty pizzas, which comes topped with veggie chicken, pepperoni, sausage, steak and dairy-free cheese. Normally, it’s tough for me to stomach fake meats or anything vegan pretending to be what it’s not. But the seasoning and combination with the light, crispy crust and bubbly, dairy-free Daiya cheese made them fine replacements for the real thing. Also a plus: the conspicuous lack of animal fat, which eliminates the need to dab up excess grease.

One of the most popular pies is the Five Level Veggies pizza ($12.95-$18.95), which comes with five veggies of your choosing, and the Mediterranean ($16.95-$22.95) for its briny Kalamata olives, porto mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic over a spread of house-made pesto. For something a little spicy, the Indian Style ($16.95-$22.95) comes topped with spinach, green onions and bell peppers marinated in Garam Masala and seasoned with curry, turmeric, black peppers and paprika.


Plant Based Pizza
1111 Meridian Ave., Suite 2, San Jose. 408.448.8881 or