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The Most Veg-Friendly Cities in North America

Written by PETA | July 14, 2010
Capitol Building

With so many smart folks going veg, the number of restaurants and other business catering (often literally) to our appetites is booming, which makes our task of compiling lists of vegetarian-friendly cities tougher each time. But we never shrink from a challenge—or from the chance to discover totally delish new veggie eateries—so we’re proud to present our list of the top 10 large and small North American cities for vegans and vegetarians.

Large Cities

  1. Washington, D.C.
    Although Congress may be populated by purveyors of “pork,” Washington is making a bid to become the nation’s capital of veggie dining. Folks on both sides of the aisle could surely reach a bipartisan consensus on the faux turkey club sandwich from Java Green, ratify the vegan pepperoni and mozzarella pizza at Busboys and Poets, and put an end to the gridlock for a trip to Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant in nearby Falls Church, Virginia, to enjoy Popeye’s Favorite—a potato pie mixed with spinach, soy protein, and veggie bacon in a black-pepper sauce—followed by egg-free and milk-free organic pumpkin pie or almond-blueberry pie.
  2. Portland, Oregon
    Portland’s volcanoes may be extinct, but the city’s vegan scene has erupted—enough to propel Portland into our number two position. From the luscious lasagne at Papa G’s Vegan Organic Deli to the sizzling TLP (tempeh bacon, lettuce, and peppers) at Red and Black Café, to the barbecue tempeh platter at the Blossoming Lotus, vegan Portlanders have plenty of reasons to be happy with their hometown.
  3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Going vegan in Albuquerque is easier than learning how to spell the city’s name! You’ll find vegan options aplenty, such as the veggie chicken nuggets and boba tea at the Fei Health Café and the tofu scramble at Flying Star Café. Also check out both locations of Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café, offering a selection of vegan bakery items and ayurvedic cooking classes.
  4. Atlanta, Georgia
    Life for Georgia’s vegans is increasingly peachy, with restaurants such as Café Sunflower (offering stuffed mushroom caps in a miso mushroom sauce), Green Sprout (presenting veggie pork with tofu and Szechuan sauce), and Ria’s Bluebird (serving up Southwest tofu scramble with veggies). The South will rise again—and ask for seconds.
  5. Seattle, Washington
    Seattle has a reputation for being rainy, but even when it’s overcast, Seattle is a sunny place for vegans. For instance, Araya’s Place curries favor with a Thai red curry with tofu, Thrive tops its fiery Chili con Marvelous with onion cashew cream, and Wayward Vegan Café dazzles with the Warlock, a faux-chicken sandwich spiced up with a savory chipotle-tahini sauce.
  6. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    While we had our differences with the recent Olympic Games held there, we can’t hold that against this beautiful city. Especially not while they’re serving up almond masala cakes at Organic Lives, spicy falafel wraps at Gorilla Food, and a golden rice bowl with marinated Gardein strips, mock shrimp, and sautéed tofu at Loving Hut.
  7. San Francisco, California
    The City by the Bay has opened its Golden Gate to a wide variety of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants and cafés. While celebrated spots such as Millenium and Greens are well worth a visit, don’t miss out on the “Neatloaf” at Ananda Fuara, the Broccoli Beef & Black Mushroom entrée at Golden Era, or the grilled portobello mushroom over creamy polenta, sautéed spinach, and crostini at the all-vegan Herbivore.
  8. Los Angeles, California
    The City of Angels offers a wide range of heavenly delights for residents and visitors alike. Start with Flore Vegan Cuisine, where you can indulge in vegan Griddle Cakes (with strawberries), or perhaps you’d prefer the signature “TV dinner”—with veggie loaf, mashed potatoes, golden gravy, and vegetables—from Real Food Daily. Better yet, try both, and then have a Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’—made with crispy fried chillin’ chickin’, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and a southwestern-spiced vegan mayo—made by Veggie Grill.
  9. New York, New York
    They may live in the city that never sleeps, but Big Apple residents are clearly using those extra waking hours to think up more great vegan stuff to eat. With choices like the pumpkin noodles with sautéed vegetables at HanGawi, a marinated and grilled Bamburger or spaghetti and “meatballs” at Red Bamboo, and spinach omelets, pesto noodles, or Unchicken Nachos at the all-vegan Caravan of Dreams, no wonder Gothamites are staying up nights!
  10. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Canada’s largest city comes through for the hungry vegetarians of the Great White North. No one who’s had the raw vegan Pasta Bolognese at Rawlicious, the eggplant in ginger sauce at Commensal, or the beer-battered deep-fried tofu with cornmeal at Fressen would be surprised to find Toronto rounding out our list in style.

Small Cities  

  1. Olympia, Washington
    Blue Heron Bakery: Vegan spelt muffins, brownies, walnut–chocolate-chip cookies, and peanut-butter cookies
    Tofu Hut: Tofu Sweet and Sour (deep-fried tofu with pineapples, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, wild mushrooms, and carrots in a tangy sweet-and-sour sauce)
    Vic’s Pizzeria: Vic’s Vegan Calzone (stuffed with black olives, mushrooms, white onions, spinach, fried sweet peppers, red sauce, and a choice of yellow or white sauce
  2. Burlington, Vermont
    Magnolia Bistro: The Incredible Mr. Limpett: (vegan tuna-salad sandwich with pickles); Garbanzo Burger (garbanzo beans, oregano, and scallions); Magnolia French Toast (organic bread with walnuts in a wash of soy, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon)
    Bueno Y Sano: East/West Burrito (Asian stir-fried veggies, basmati rice, and grilled tofu topped with an Asian plum sauce)
    Bite Me Organic Pizza: Vermont Intervale Ghosts Pizza (cheese-free pizza with marinated tofu, baby spinach, a variety of squash, roasted peppers, red beets, caramelized onions, yellow and red tomatoes, and lemon-oil drizzle)
  3. Iowa City, Iowa
    The Red Avocado: College Green Sunset (layered herbed white-bean pâté, tempeh sausage, tofu ricotta, and caramelized onions wrapped in a flaky filo pastry purse on spinach polenta with horseradish-root vegetable–sweet-corn relish, roasted-red-pepper sauce, and a fine drizzle of sweet balsamic reduction)
    Fair Grounds Coffeehouse: Grilled Vegan Panini Cheeseburger (Boca burger with your choice of vegan cheese and veggies served on panini bread)
    Thai Flavors: Massaman Curry (coconut milk with onions, potatoes, and peanuts, served with a cucumber salad and your choice of tofu or gluten-based meat substitute)
  4. Bloomington, Indiana
    Siam House: Gang Garee (yellow curry with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, onions, and white, yellow, or fried tofu, served with jasmine rice). All dishes can be prepared without fish sauce on request.
    Bloomingfoods Market and Deli: Meatless Mondays at the Deli (menu varies)
    Laughing Planet: Cuban Burrito (organic brown rice, black beans, salsa fresca, sweet potatoes, plantains, housemade barbecue sauce, and your choice of tofu or seitan, served with tropical fruit salsa on the side)
  5. Syracuse, New York
    Strong Hearts (all-vegan restaurant): Supreme Vegan Pizza (four vegan meats and soy cheese with a tasty tomato sauce), Tofurky sandwich, grilled “cheese” sandwich, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, cakes, pies, and milkshakes
    Alto Cinco: BBQ Tofu Burrito (rice, black beans, salsa, and crispy tofu with a chipotle barbecue sauce), Vegan Quesadilla (grilled tortilla with roasted-tomato pesto, sautéed spinach, roasted eggplant, guacamole, and salsa)
    Sparky Town: The Jocko Sandwich (grilled tempeh, lettuce, tomato, artichoke, red pepper, red onion, black-bean paste, sun-dried tomato spread, and avocado spread)
  6. Topeka, Kansas
    Blackbird Espresso Bar and Bistro: Hummus and veggie wraps and vegan bakery items such as chocolate-chip cookies and banana-nut bread.
    Globe: Baingan Bartha (fresh eggplant baked over an open flame, served with green peas and gently tempered with aromatic herbs and spices), Chana Masala (whole chickpeas cooked with onion, tomato, garlic, ginger, herbs, and spices)
    Tup Tim Thai: Thai Curry Triangles (golden wontons filled with veggies such as sweet potatoes and celery, flavored with turmeric and served with chili-garlic sauce), Massaman Tofu Curry (with peanuts, potatoes, and vegetables). Any curry can be made with tofu and without fish sauce.
  7. Worcester, Massachusetts
    Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant: Spaghetti and veggie balls, macaroni and soy cheese, barbeque “chicken” and rice (all items rotate)
    Nancy Chang: Sesame Vegan Chicken, Mango Vegan Chicken, Sizzling Vegan Shrimp With Japanese Tepanyaki Sauce, and more than 50 vegan items on the menu
    Loving Hut: Kung Pao Wow (soy chicken, baby corn, carrots, snow peas, bamboo, water chestnuts, onions, bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, and cashews)
  8. Lincoln, Nebraska
    Maggie’s Veggie Café: Baked Tofu Wrap (oven-baked organic tofu, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and sweet mustard sauce), Curried Tofu Wrap (organic tofu marinated in mild coconut curry with red onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, served cold)
    Taj Mahal: Aloo Matar Tofu (potatoes, fresh garden peas, and tofu chunks in a sauce with exotic spices), Mushroom Matar (green peas and mushrooms in a sauce with exotic herbs and spices)
    Grateful Bread/Freakbeat Vegetarian: Different vegetarian soups every day, plus at least one vegan soup every day, including African Peanut, Moroccan Tomato, Cuban Black Bean, Egyptian Red Lentil, Irish Stew, and Thai Carrot
  9. Providence, Rhode Island
    AS220: Pulled-Pork Sandwich (“pulled” tofu, spicy tomato spread, and vegan cheddar on a sourdough baguette), Spicy Chorizo Sandwich (vegan housemade chorizo, crumbled tofu, vegan cheddar, and R1 hot sauce), Vegan Reuben (corned seitan, housemade sauerkraut, vegan Swiss, and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread)
    Garden Grille Café: Chipotle seared seitan with wasabi mustard dipping sauce, “crab” cakes with Veracruz sauce and saffron aioli over millet polenta and sautéed greens, eggplant rollatini grilled and stuffed with herb tofu-nut cheese, crispy polenta, garlic sautéed spinach with housemade pomodoro sauce
    Julian’s: Vegan Steak & Cheese Wrap (house seitan, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and soy cheese in a tortilla)
  10. Boise, Idaho
    Shangri-La Tea Room and Vegetarian Café: Corn Chowder (corn, potatoes, and a bit of onion in a veggie broth seasoned to perfection), Mock Toona and Crackers (housemade Mock Toona spread and raw housemade crackers made with sprouted almonds and flaxseed), Curry Wrap (tofu, potatoes, and red peppers in a scrumptious red curry sauce, wrapped in a warm tortilla)
    Boise Fry Company: Vegan Burger and Fries (made with your choice of russet, white, gold, sweet, yam, purple, or Okinawa potatoes)
    Mai Thai: Black Pepper Steak (veggie black-pepper steak sautéed with mixed veggies in vegetarian sauce), vegan orange chicken sautéed with mandarin oranges and mixed with veggies in a special sauce), Veggie Citrus Spareribs (sautéed in a special sauce and served on a bed of fresh lettuce with fresh pineapple chunks)

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  • Roger B says:

    Was Philadelphia in contention? There are so many great Veg only and veg friendly places, from the “Vegetarian McDonald’s” Hip City Veg, to the upscale Vedge. Almost every pub has a vegan friendly offering (try the Kale burger at Cedar Point, or the Veggie Burger at Monks). Anyway, great list, will have to check some of these places out.

  • Rita Williams says:

    Just returned from extended stay in Halifax,Nova Scotia Canada from my home in Toronto,Ontario, Canada. Toronto is listed as a top 10 vegetarian city in Canada. I strongly disagree. Everywhere we went in Halifax there were close, easy to reach vegetarian and vegan places to eat with excellent choices. I return to Toronto and have to drive quite far or travel a fair distance to get about 20% of the variety. In Halifax, I can either walk, cycle in this bicycle -friendly city or drive 5-10 minutes maximum to find local source markets, or numerous vegetarian and vegan restaurants everywhere. Plus, most restaurants have vegetarian listed items on their menus! :-)

  • John says:

    I agree with Lori, Victoria BC should be a serious candidate for top 10 small cities. We have at least three good vegan cuisines off the top of my head, maybe more: Green Cuisine (buffet), Lotus Pond (Buddhist), Cafe Bliss (raw).

  • scarlette15 says:

    IF you live near or happen to visit Vancouver, this place called Deserts on Commercial Drive is to die for!!! ( Try the lentil curry! )

  • Couch Potato says:

    Portland is defiantly correct. There is a place called Voodoo donut, and they sell really good vegan donuts. There are actually a lot of good choices when it comes to eating vegan/ vegetarian in Portland. I was happy to see it on here.

  • Adam says:

    santa cruz, ca should definitely in the top small cities list

  • Blu Lyt says:

    I think Boulder, Colorado might be near the top of the Small Town list. They were one of the earliest towns to welcome alternative/hippie/vegetarian life styles. Many of their early coops turned into veg/organic groceries stores that Whole Foods models themselves after. Falafel King on Pearl Street has to be one of the first of its kind. Now plenty of Indian/Nepalese restaurants are there as well.

  • Joyce says:

    I would say Vermont is not that veg-friendly. Only a few places around Burlington have vegan options. We are planning to move someday to a truly veg friendly city like Portland, OR

  • Chris says:

    Considering that its 7th day adventist population is SO veg and health oriented that it fought to try and keep a McDonald’s restaurant out of its town, I’d say that Loma Linda California definitely deserves mention. Granted that it’s a small community of about 21,000 on the outskirts of Riverside.

  • notebook review says:

    Thanks for the blog article. Great.

  • Deni says:

    Gainesville, Florida is very good for vegetarian food, and not bad for vegan food. At a lot of restaurants, if there aren’t specifically vegan dishes, they can be tailored vegan.

  • Lori says:

    For small cities Victoria BC really should have been on here! We have great vegetarian restaurants and cafes. Vegan cookbook author Sarah Kramer lives here and has a cute little vegan shop. Her and her husband Gerry also own a tattoo shop where of course they use vegan ink. We also have a new vegan shoe and accessory store. We are very vegan friendly :)

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  • Ali says:

    Hoping you don’t leave Frederick, Maryland off your small cities list next year! In our small city, we have over 30 veg-friendly (or total Veg) restaurants and supermarkets, most within an 8-block long, 4 block-wide historic downtown area!

  • Rachel says:

    I’m sorry, but I live in Burlington, I have my whole life, and we have no vegan restaurants. Sure you can pick and choose what goes in your meal, and there are always salads, but honestly, there are barely any places that have vegan options on the menu. I would suggest stocking up at the health food store, but even that gets old after a while.

  • Kat says:

    Hello?? Wheres Boulder, Colorado? Or Anywhere in CO?? It’s the most Veg-Friendly state there is!!

  • Kevin says:

    I’m sorry, but Washington DC has to be more like the number 1 least friendly city for vegans and vegetarians. If you’re planning to spend some time there, as I did a couple weeks ago, you will be disappointed and hungry. The downtown area has little to nothing to offer. My recommendation is to stop by Wholefoods and stock up, but this gets old very quickly and you can’t take food into the hot spots. There is one vegan cafe that is popular, but it is expensive, and a walk to get to. Good luck, and let us what you find if you decide to go. The museums are great, so some suffering is worth while.

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