The best US cities for vegans and vegetarians range from Pacific Northwest food hubs to the hipster hot spot of Texas. Given that around 10 million Americans have surrendered animal products, the food and beverage industry was bound to follow the exponential increase in demand for plant-based meals.
While most cities accommodate vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in 2021, they do so with great disparity. Some cities may score well in the number of vegan restaurants per capita, but the price of fresh produce to feed an average vegan could break the bank. Some might have great lifestyle options for plant-based diets, like farmers markets and community gardens, but lack the level of diversity a vegan foodie might crave. Who could deny that a tiny town in the Midwest can’t compete with a big city on the West Coast in terms of diversity or quality?
WalletHub’s 2020 study ranked the 100 most-populated US cities based on how vegan and vegetarian-friendly they are. They calculated results with a multitude of criteria, including affordability, quality, diversity, accessibility and overall lifestyle. We have compiled a brief companion to WalletHub’s list, so check out this round up of the best US cities for vegans and vegetarians.
Home to unparalleled urban greenery, bike paths and innovative food and beverage, the city of roses slides into the top spot. Though not the most affordable when it comes to fresh produce, no other city can match Portland’s quality, diversity and plant-based lifestyle. Even when restaurants don’t dedicate the entirety of their menu to vegan and vegetarian dishes, they at least offer vegan and vegetarian options.
The Portland Farmers Market envelopes the downtown Park Blocks with mouthwatering cuisine from all over the world and fresh produce from the wealth of nearby farms. And the restaurant scene bustles with vegan and vegetarian fare in every neighborhood, especially on the east side of the river.
Don’t be surprised if your neighbor has chickens or a community garden.
Los Angeles, CA
A city that houses so many social media moguls necessitates trendy plant-based options. Founder of vegan LA restaurant Merci Maman, Diane Montoriol, shared her experience as a French expat creating vegan concepts. “Although not the most affordable, Los Angeles is the mecca for vegan consumerism,” says Montoriol.
“Veganism in LA was never a trend, it is simply part of the furniture, and you can’t imagine the city without it. It constantly attracts a plethora of novelty vegan concepts and entrepreneurs. Customers are almost apathetic to any excitement because they have already seen everything and come with the highest expectations. But if your concept gets their stamp of approval, it gives you a sense of legitimacy and validation in the vegan world and sets the stage for expanding your brand to new markets.”
San Francisco, CA
It’s hard to justify living in such a pricey city. But dining out every now and then? Yes, please. Vegans and vegetarians will have a field day in San Francisco, the city that adapts to trends at a frightening speed. Plus, everyone should visit this timeless city with hills for days before it disappears into rising sea levels. Try the Mexican restaurant Gracias Madre, run by the founders of the swanky yet hipster Cafe Gratitude.
Really? A Floridian city in the top five? And not even Miami? Relative to the population, its number of vegan restaurants rockets Orlando to a top spot (not to mention the insane variety and incredible quality among those restaurants). From elegant Vietnamese food to a traditional casual American dinner, Orlando has everything a vegan or vegetarian could ask for.
It shouldn’t come as a shock that the other jewel of the Pacific Northwest made the Top 10 best US cities for vegans and vegetarians. Seattle pioneers West Coast cuisine with their farmers and funky locals, but they shine brightest when it comes to vegan desserts (and coffee, obviously). Rainy Seattle churns out a vast amount of seasonal flavors at Frankie & Jo’s, a plant-based ice cream shop. Don’t forget to make a Sunday stop at Mighty-O-Donuts, an experimental doughnut cafe.
Dana Pucci works as a communications consultant for KNPR, a Miami-based network of professionals specializing in food and beverage among other industries. She shared with us her three favorite vegan restaurants in Miami.
Delicious Raw is a “fast casual plant-based restaurant in South Beach [with] a straightforward menu of bowls and smoothies,” says Pucci. They also serve “gourmet takes on Vegan Pad Thai and truffle burgers with a goal of satisfying cravings without wrecking your diet.”
With locations in New York, Toronto and Florida, Planta chases quality and sustainability by celebrating plants in colorful dishes. You won’t be disappointed by the lack of meat when your meal arrives.
Plant Miami offers an upscale dining experience for once-upon-a-time carnivores who miss expensive steakhouses. Be sure to book ahead!
Maybe they don’t have an overwhelming amount of restaurants that offer exclusively vegan food, but Boise managed to rank 22 in affordability, 17 in diversity, accessibility and quality and 26 in lifestyle. Not convinced? Check out PETA’s Top 10 vegan-friendly city list.
Fort Wayne, IN
If you did a double-take when you read the city in 8th place, you’re not alone. Who would’ve guessed that an Indiana city could make the 10 best US cities for vegans and vegetarians? It’s all about the affordability factor, coming in at number 4.
Just over the Bay Bridge from San Francisco sits Oakland, which ranks No. 1 in vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. Could it be the leftist college town vibes? Check out Millennium, a local institution that has crafted inventive vegan dishes for over two decades.
Often lauded as the Texan counterpart to Portland, OR, Austin’s menus are a bit of a contradiction. With some of the best BBQ and Tex-Mex in the country, Austin also serves up a mean plant-based burger at Arlo, which has three food trucks around the city. If you’re a pizza fan, head over to Lil’ Nonna’s for delicious homemade vegan mozzarella.
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