Ever since Netflix released the documentary What the Health? last March, more and more people have been jumping on the vegan bandwagon. This diet’s defining rule is that all animal products are prohibited—which makes it a challenging regimen to follow. Yet according to a report entitled “Top Trends in Prepared Foods in 2017” compiled by research firm Global Data, American consumers who identify with the diet now make up six percent of the population. This represents an increase of 600 percent since 2014.
With veganism moving steadily into the mainstream, meeting and event planners need to have it on their F&B radar, along with all the other forms of dietary restrictions. How far to go in offering a veggie fare is, of course, heavily dependent on the nature of your group. The location of your meeting or event might play a big role, too, as it may dictate how extensive relevant resources are.
WalletHub released a report on the best cities for vegans and vegetarians. In determining which big city was both the best and cheapest for those on a plant-based diet, WalletHub analysts used 15 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness for 100 of the largest cities. These indicators were equally weighted in three categories: affordability; diversity, accessibility and quality; and vegetarian lifestyle.
Here are the top five cities in this 2017 ranking, along with a little more on what each offers all the herbivores out there.
1. New York
Ranking the Big Apple as No.1 actually makes a lot of sense. If you take a look around New York City these days, you’ll find a plethora of farmer’s markets. Additionally, the WalletHub survey found that New York has the highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options, 56.25 percent. It also has the most salad shops (per square root of population).
What really makes the city stand out, though, is that its vegan-friendly restaurants offer a lot more than twigs and leaves. The city has perfected the craft of natural delicacies, with upscale takes on Italian, Japanese, Korean, Indian, New American and Mexican cuisines.
Everybody’s favorite quirky city is beloved for creative culture, top food trucks, craft beer and Powell’s books. Considering Portland’s overall character, though, it’s only natural it’s also a top destination for those avoiding animal products. In fact, the city was named No. 1 Most Vegan-Friendly City in the U.S. by PETA and Paul McCartney last year.
Portlandians don’t stop at food either—the city has a vegan tiki bar, cruelty-free barbershop, and even a vegan-run and ink tattoo parlor. It’s safe to say vegans will find comfort there.
WalletHub found that Orlando has the nation’s highest share of restaurants serving plant-based options—31.14 percent. To put this in perspective, that number is 8.8 times higher than in Chicago, which is the city with the lowest percentage, at 3.52 percent.
Surprisingly, Orlando even beat out San Francisco. Guess they have less fried gator bites and more salads than we thought! In fact, the Sunshine State fared well in general. Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville ranked No. 9, No. 15 and No. 32, respectively.
4. San Francisco
How could the city long known for its hippie culture not earn a vegan gold star? Not to mention the fact that this is where Kip Andersen, creator of What the Health?, resides (in case the man bun didn’t tip you off).
Plant-based eaters will find many options in Fog City, from the abundance of organic produce to health-food markets to plant-based restaurants and cafes. Plus, WalletHub found that San Francisco has the most community-supported agriculture programs (per square foot).
5. Los Angeles
Let’s be honest—veganism is super trendy right now. Meaning there’s no way Los Angeles hasn’t surfed this wave. L.A. has always loved the latest fads—especially when it comes to health. Witness The Real Food, a vegetarian café at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and vegan cooking classes offered at Spork Foods, a West Hollywood culinary school.