A vegan guide to New York City – eat plant-based on a budget this summer

A vegan guide to New York City – eat plant-based on a budget this summer
Source: Pexels, Daria Shevtsova

There’s nothing more “in” right now than eating your greens, and being a vegan in New York City isn’t much of a challenge. Still, New York’s food prices are notoriously high at the best of times, whether you eat meat or forego it altogether. As long as you’re not dining at Eleven Madison Park – which recently adopted a plant-based tasting menu – there are actually many options to eat well as a vegan in New York City on a budget. Yes, even in Manhattan. Yes, even in upper Manhattan.

New York ‘za

What is New York City without pizza? More importantly, what is pizza without New York City? Even if you’re avoiding dairy as a plant-based eater, you can, of course, still enjoy a slice or two of some famous pizza. And the best part? Pizza is such a staple here that it’s never more than a few dollars a slice.

Head over to Screamer’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn, or Two Boots, which has a few locations in the city (and Jersey City too) for the best vegan pizza in New York City. Both of these spots offer so many options that even if you’re with a crowd, everyone is bound to leave satisfied.

Gotta get that schmear

Of course, the classic breakfast anywhere in the tri-state area is an everything bagel with cream cheese. Good news: bagels are usually already vegan. Unless you get an egg bagel, that is. You can pick up some vegan cream cheese at any Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods in the area (and probably at most other grocery stores) if you want to save a few dollars.

If you’re in a hurry and want to order your deli bagel with cream cheese already included, there are so many vegan-friendly NYC breakfast takeout spots. The most well-known is Ess-A-Bagel, which has two locations in Manhattan. Grab a bagel with one of their tofu spreads for less than US$5 in the morning. Or, grab a dozen bagels and a tub of whichever tofu spread is your favorite to feed all of your friends.

But the options for vegan brunch in New York City don’t end there. YouTuber Vegan Bodegacat actually did a vegan NYC bagel tour last year, which is worth checking out for some other recommendations.

Your favorite bodega, but make it vegan

Corner bodegas are what makes New York … New York. It’s imperative to keep bodega culture alive as the city fights increased gentrification and the loss of cultural diversity. Thankfully, many bodegas in the city already offer plant-based snacks (hello, Oreos and salt & vinegar chips).

Moreover, this year, your neighborhood bodega might be getting its own vegan fridge and deli menu. Lately, establishments across the city are adopting affordable, veggie options without losing their charm. If you’re in Manhattan, swing by Marinello’s Gourmet Deli for their vegan Chopped Cheese – featuring a Beyond Meat patty with peppers, onions, lettuce and veganaise.

We can’t do all our shopping at Whole Foods

Perhaps one of the most dependable vegan staples is the closest Whole Foods grocery store. Alas, not all of us can be Elon Musk (who we imagine is the only person who can afford to regularly shop there). To get decent plant-based grocery options without breaking the bank, the city has a few independent markets that you can actually afford to support.

Head over to Bed-Stuy and make sure to check out Buy Better Foods. This store’s founder, Myriam Simpierre, created BBF as a way to better feed her Brooklyn community by making sustainable and organic foods accessible to everyone, regardless of dietary requirements or paycheck. This healthy NYC market is Black-owned, LGBT-owned and woman-owned. And the best part? They deliver all over the city.

If you’re looking to support local growers and artisans as well as entrepreneurs, summer in the city is ideal for farmers markets. Every borough has a few, and often the vendors even accept SNAP/EBT cards or offer discounts on certain products. Also, the markets are open on different days of the week, so you can check one out whenever it works best with your schedule.

Get a sip of this!

If we’re going to be eating vegan, then we might as well also do some vegan drinking. Believe it or not, the way certain alcoholic beverages are processed means that they’re not always vegan friendly. No worries, though, because so many local pubs and bars cater to the vegan community, like Pine Box Rock Shop in Bushwick, which serves local craft beer and cocktails. Urban Vegan Kitchen in downtown Manhattan is a low-key spot known for its cocktails, which, by Manhattan prices, won’t completely bankrupt you. They serve some interesting beers, too, and even offer a hard kombucha.

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