The food landscape in the US was not designed for vegetarians and vegans. Meals typically revolve around meat as the main course, with some veggies here and there as sides. While it’s easier to stick to a meat-free diet these days, the availability of good, affordable vegetarian options varies city to city and region to region. To find the best cities for vegetarians and vegans, WalletHub, a credit score and report company, crunched some data and found the top 100 large US cities for those of us who choose a plant-based diet.
“There are plenty of options for all the vegans and vegetarians out there, regardless of budget,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub, tells Matador Network. “This seems to be a growing trend.”
To create the ranking, WalletHub looked at three metrics: affordability, vegetarian lifestyle, and diversity/accessibility/quality. The latter category compared the percentage of restaurants with vegan options, farmers markets per capita, juice and smoothie bars, salad shops, vegetarian cooking classes, and other metrics.
“More and more people are adopting a plant-based diet,” Gonzalez says. “However, it can sometimes be difficult to find affordable meatless options in restaurants and supermarkets. We published this study to help people with all kinds of budgets find the best vegan and vegetarian options.”
There’s a good chance that the cities at the top of the list won’t surprise you. There are a few curveballs in there, though.
“Austin, which ranked seventh, might come as a bit of a surprise since Texas is known for its world-famous barbecue,” Gonzalez says. “But the city has low produce prices and affordable restaurants with vegan or vegetarian options that are easily available. Austin also has the most vegetarian cooking classes per capita and hosts vegan and vegetarian festivals.”
While Wallethub ranked a full 100 cities in the US, below you’ll find the top 50 in descending order. Also included is how each city ranks against each other in the three categories. You may find a certain city in the top 50 ranks lower in a certain category, like affordability, but the overall holistic score still keeps these cities at the top of the pack for vegetarian and vegan eaters.
50. Mesa, Arizona
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 50
Vegetarian lifestyle: 58
Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, just makes it into the top 50 in WalletHub’s ranking. Two other nearby suburbs, Gilbert and Chandler, made it onto the full 100 list. Phoenix itself comes in at number 14. So all in all, the area is doing pretty well for itself as a vegan- and vegetarian-friendly city. There may not be all that many plants in the desert, but there sure are on your plate. Some of Mesa’s top vegetarian restaurants include Lotus Deli, an Indian restaurant, and Cutting Board Bakery and Cafe, a bakery and juice bar with sustainable wine and beer options.
49. Plano, Texas
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 72
Vegetarian lifestyle: 54
Located just outside of Dallas, Plano has an affordable vegan and vegetarian scene, but the city of more than 280,000 isn’t exactly swimming in options. It’s easy enough to make it work with a little planning, though. Some of the local favorites include Malgudi Garden, a buffet Indian restaurant, and True Food Kitchen, which has a range of common dishes made vegan like sandwiches, pizzas, and bowls, as well as wine and beer.
48. Cleveland, Ohio
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 79
Vegetarian lifestyle: 23
There are more than 30 vegan-friendly restaurants in the greater Cleveland area, including the Lebanese chain Aladdin’s Eatery, a taco shop called Barrio, and Emperor’s Palace, which has a separate menu for vegans. You don’t have to go vegan on your own in Cleveland, either. The Cleveland Vegan Society helps promote the city’s vegan restaurants and community.
47. Boise, Idaho
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 37
Vegetarian lifestyle: 70
Affordable variety is what makes Boise so attractive from a vegan and vegetarian standpoint. BBQ4LIFE has an entire vegan menu alongside its barbecued specials, and the first Ethiopian restaurant in the city, Kibrom’s, is popular amongst vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The Funky Taco has a seemingly fanatical devotion to everything local, and the bar and restaurant rotates its menu depending on what’s in season. Boise is quickly growing and the cost of living is going up, but it’s still an affordable place to eat.
46. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 31
Vegetarian lifestyle: 24
Of all the cities getting attention for new bars and restaurants over the past couple of years, few have been as buzzed about as Minneapolis. It’s an underrated city in many regards, but the food and drink options are some of the most criminally overlooked, and that goes for the vegan and vegetarian options too. Consider The Herbivorous Butcher, which makes a bunch of different meat-free “meats” and cheese-free “cheeses.” Then there’s the new plant-based fine dining restaurant Fig + Farro, which focuses on comfort food without the meat. The food can be expensive, but some sacrifices from your wallet are worth it.
45. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 71
Vegetarian lifestyle: 98
The lack of plant-centric events and meetups bring Fort Wayne’s lifestyle ranking down, but it’s an extremely affordable place to be a vegan or vegetarian. Loving Café makes vegan dishes like soups and vegan hot dogs that are budget-friendly. Pembroke Bakery and Café offers beet burgers, chickpea sandwiches, bagels with vegan cheese, and other lunch and breakfast options. Mad Anthony’s Brewpub has a house-made vegetarian burger with oats and egg whites, as well as award-winning beer.
44. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 30
Vegetarian lifestyle: 68
It’s not all cheesesteaks in Philly. The City of Brotherly Love has become a place of veganly love over the past two decades. V Street serves up lots of beer with spicy street food from James Beard Award-winning chefs. Honest Tom’s has an entire menu of plant-based tacos. But you wouldn’t be in Philly if you didn’t have a cheesesteak — even if you’re vegetarian. Wiz Kid, Govinda’s Gourmet Vegetarian, and Blackbird Pizzeria all have meat-free takes on Philadelphia’s most famous food.
43. Glendale, Arizona
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 70
Vegetarian lifestyle: 49
In 2018, Glendale got Veggie Rebellion, Arizona’s first vegan grocery store. It’s also close to Mesa (No. 50) and Phoenix (No. 14). But just because there are options for vegans and vegetarians if they take short jaunts outside of Glendale doesn’t mean those trips need to be taken. Mi Vegana Madre serves twists on Mexican staples, like faux-meat carne asada tacos. Staple pizza places, burger joints, and ice cream shops have added vegan and vegetarian options, and chef Jason Wyrick, the man behind delivery service The Vegan Taste, will soon open a food truck called Bonebreaker’s Vegan Smokehouse.
42. Anchorage, Alaska
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 55
Vegetarian lifestyle: 17
There are some greens, albeit some expensive ones, in the cold of Alaska. At Namaste North Yoga Studio Cafe, you can get your stretch on and then refuel with vegan food. Organic Oasis is also a vegan and vegetarian oasis. When in Anchorage, there’s no need to feel isolated as an herbivore. Find your people with events like Alaska VegFest and the Alaska Vegan Society.
41. Long Beach, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 36
Vegetarian lifestyle: 29
Yes, Long Beach is expensive. If you can afford it, though, there are plenty of places to go and things to eat that fit into a plant-based lifestyle. I Love Vegan is a Thai food place with an appropriately on-the-nose name. Seabirds Kitchen expands what you think can be done with vegan food — and does so just blocks away from the beach. There’s also a strong vegan and vegetarian community, with meetups, cooking classes, and the Long Beach Vegan Festival.
40. Durham, North Carolina
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 61
Vegetarian lifestyle: 10
Having events like the Triangle VegFest helps boost Durham’s vegan/vegetarian ranking. Like other cities with a strong college vibe, Durham has moderate access to restaurants and a good farmer’s market. Say what you will about the youth in a college town, but they bring veggies to the table. Souly Vegan puts a plant-based spin on traditional soul food dishes like jerk “chicken” and barbecue, and try out Pomegranate Kitchen for vegetarian dishes with a focus on local ingredients.
39. Irvine, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 28
Vegetarian lifestyle: 45
There’s nothing like having a college or university with a strong agriculture program to boost a city’s vegan/vegetarian profile. Irvine has that with the University of California, Irvine. If you’re looking for meals that’re already prepared for you, Butterleaf has plant-based burgers and sandwiches that have the look and feel of meat without any of the animal. Also, helping out on the lifestyle front for WalletHub’s rating, Irvine has events like Plant Fest at Tanaka Farms.
38. Boston, Massachusetts
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 19
Vegetarian lifestyle: 18
Boston, like many of the other major metropolises in the US, is expensive. It’s expensive to live there, drink there, and eat a plant-based diet there. But the latter is possible thanks to the city’s many options, and it’s made easier with community groups like the Boston Vegetarian Society. The wide swath of options ranges from vegan ice cream shops to Chinese vegetarian specialties.
37. Charlotte, North Carolina
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 34
Vegetarian lifestyle: 34
It’s easy to love North Carolina barbecue, but don’t count out Charlotte’s less-hyped vegan/vegetarian spots. Fern, Flavors from the Garden focuses on locally sourced veggies for its dishes, and Living Kitchen makes barbecue sliders with oyster mushrooms if you want to keep in line with North Carolina’s more well-known barbecue culture.
36. Columbus, Ohio
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 78
Vegetarian lifestyle: 37
HappyCow, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant guide, lists 99 vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly options in Columbus, Ohio. To say there are a lot of options is an understatement. It also has a strong vegetarian/vegan community with both the Columbus Veg Community group and the Vegan Columbus Facebook group, as well as people in the city working to make it the vegan capital of the US.
35. Baltimore, Maryland
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 46
Vegetarian lifestyle: 14
Maryland gets a lot of credit for its seafood — as it should. Vegetable gardens, not so much. WalletHub ranked it No. 97 in terms of vegetable nurseries per capita. The restaurants are picking up the slack with places like Encantada, which devotes half of its menu to vegan or vegetarian options, and The Grub Factory, which makes a vegan cheesesteak.
34. Kansas City, Missouri
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 66
Vegetarian lifestyle: 33
Kansas City is another barbecue town that’s making waves for vegans and vegetarians. It hosts plant-based festivals like VegFest, and the city is home to food carts like Peaceful Pig Vegan BBQ. The affordability of Kansas City doesn’t hurt either.
33. Jacksonville, Florida
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 42
Vegetarian lifestyle: 27
Jacksonville has Florida’s youngest population. The youth are turning the city by the sea into a nice spot for vegans and vegetarians. The Facebook group Jax Vegan Love keeps people up to date on restaurants and events and is a good place to start for anyone looking for a green place to go.
32. Chesapeake, Virginia
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 93
Vegetarian lifestyle: 28
Like nearby Norfolk and Virginia Beach, which both made it into the top 100, Chesapeake is a vegan- and vegetarian-friendly city. Delivery and catering places like Naomi Vegan Meets make it easy to eat vegan wherever you are in the Chesapeake area. It’s also the home of the Hampton Road VegFest, which helps boost its WalletHub ranking.
31. Denver, Colorado
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 21
Vegetarian lifestyle: 56
Denver is a good food city, a good beer city, and a good everything city. It hosts one of the largest VegFests in the US and has many farmers markets and restaurants to choose from if you’re looking to skip out on meat. Beet Box Bakery and Cafe is a standout as is WaterCourse Foods, which opened in 1998 and serves only vegetarian dishes.
30. New Orleans, Louisiana
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 27
Vegetarian lifestyle: 44
New Orleans is more known for its muffalettas, po’boys, and Bourbon Street festivities than vegan or vegetarian food. To put it bluntly, plant-based meals don’t fit into the indulgent reputation of the Big Easy. Reputation isn’t everything, though. 13 Bar & Restaurant has late-night vegetarian eats, and Killer Poboys offers meat-free po’boys.
29. Buffalo, New York
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 41
Vegetarian lifestyle: 20
The best-known food from Buffalo has to be Buffalo wings. Those are decidedly not vegan- or vegetarian-friendly — usually. The city now has three restaurants (Merge, Amy’s Place, and Allentown Pizza) serving seitan Buffalo wings that we can all enjoy. Buffalo is also home to its very own VegFest.
28. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 38
Vegetarian lifestyle: 31
The only New Mexico city to make the top 50, Albuquerque is just good enough at everything vegan and vegetarian to be bumped up to No. 28 overall. The food tends toward a traditional New Mexican vibe with restaurants like Vibrance and vegetarian-friendly tapas bars like Blue Agave Republic.
27. Oakland, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 26
Vegetarian lifestyle: 5
Oakland is catching up to neighboring San Francisco in the vegan and vegetarian department. VegNews named it a top 10 city thanks to the mix of high-end restaurants like Millennium, soul food places like Souley Vegan, and bakeries like Timeless Coffee.
26. Dallas, Texas
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 56
Vegetarian lifestyle: 32
Dallas and the surrounding suburbs are good places to be on a plant-based diet. It was named one of the top vegan cities in America in 2017 by VegNews and doesn’t seem to be slowing down — no matter how many people consider it a barbecue and steakhouse city. Case in point: Kalachandjis from the Dallas Hare Krishnas and the lovingly greasy pub food at Anvil Pub.
25. Honolulu, Hawaii
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 8
Vegetarian lifestyle: 19
No one has tried to argue that Hawaii is affordable, especially not the residents. It’s almost too easy to grow things on the islands, though, and Honolulu restaurants embrace that. The all-vegan Juicy Brew is one example, as is the BYOB Mama T’s Ital Kitchen. The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii is based in Honolulu and one of the largest in the US.
24. Indianapolis, Indiana
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 57
Vegetarian lifestyle: 35
Indianapolis’s food scene is generally meat-centric. Where you can find vegan and vegetarian meals, however, it will generally be affordable. The much-lauded Three Carrots in City Market — one of the top food halls in the country — is a favorite for both vegans and meat eaters thanks to house-made seitan. Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe is another vegetarian-focused spot that locals love.
23. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 29
Vegetarian lifestyle: 36
Pittsburgh cracks into WalletHub’s top 25 thanks to its restaurant diversity and accessibility, plus its community. It doesn’t hurt to have a steely-eyed group like Vegan Pittsburgh on your side advocating to business owners why menu options are important. Standouts include B52 and Apteka.
22. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 40
Vegetarian lifestyle: 48
When you think of Milwaukee and many other cities in the rust belt, you likely think of meat-and-potatoes type of food. Not so fast. Beans and Barley has been around since 1973 and is still a favorite restaurant and market for vegetarians. Comet Cafe is another popular spot thanks to beer-battered “ribs” and other tofu dishes.
21. San Jose, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 18
Vegetarian lifestyle: 4
Nothing should surprise from WalletHub’s rankings of San Jose. There are plenty of options, and the residents love healthy, sustainable, and plant-based eating — though the tech capital of the US is notoriously expensive.
20. Madison, Wisconsin
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 17
Vegetarian lifestyle: 21
WalletHub’s ranking shows that, for its size, Madison has options. Many of those options only have vegan and vegetarian selections rather than be entirely devoted to a plant-based menu. That skews the ranking slightly higher, but Madison does have reliably good places like tapas and vegan place Fuegos and Mother Fools Coffee House.
19. Houston, Texas
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 51
Vegetarian lifestyle: 26
Texas is heavily represented on this list, and Houston is a good example of why a state generally thought of as meat heaven is so herbivore-friendly. The local Hare Krishnas own Govinda’s Vegetarian Cafe with a lunch and dinner buffet, and Les Givral’s has a $3 tofu banh mi that will heal your soul.
18. Nashville, Tennessee
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 32
Vegetarian lifestyle: 30
It wasn’t all that long ago that a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, would go hungry in Nashville. Today, the city has plenty of options that are affordable and diverse. The Wild Cow bases many dishes on local produce, and Butcher & Bee makes extremely savory vegetarian meals.
17. Anaheim, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 47
Vegetarian lifestyle: 1
The home city of Disneyland welcomes one and all. It tops WalletHub’s lifestyle ranking and is middle of the line in terms of diversity. Affordability of the food is like looking at prices to get into Disney, however.
16. Atlanta, Georgia
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 13
Vegetarian lifestyle: 38
You might have to drive through 78 minutes of traffic to get there, but Atlanta’s restaurants have options. True Food Kitchen is for people with an “anti-inflammatory diet,” and places like Go Vegetarian make plant-based meals that resemble meat-based meals.
15. Miami, Florida
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 9
Vegetarian lifestyle: 53
Miami’s abundant produce helps put it into the top 15. It’s tied at No. 1 for the most juice shops per capita and holds the spot for most vegetable nurseries per capita outright. Places like American Harvest take advantage of that and have locally foraged produce on the menu.
14. Phoenix, Arizona
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 24
Vegetarian lifestyle: 11
Phoenix is spotted with vegan- and vegetarian-friendly chains. Other hot spots make vegetarian and vegan meals that resemble meat-based dishes. Green New American Vegetarian is one of the more popular local spots and has a 100 percent vegan menu.
13. Chicago, Illinois
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 20
Vegetarian lifestyle: 40
Chicago’s food scene is still pretty heavy on meat dishes, but it’s incredibly affordable for being a large city. It does come in at No. 4 as most salad shops per capita, according to WalletHub. Outside of salads, there’s Yvolina’s Tamales and Lula Cafe, which focuses on local ingredients.
12. Tampa, Florida
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 11
Vegetarian lifestyle: 13
Tampa is another Florida city that benefits from its proximity to local produce. It’s No. 2, after Miami, in the number of vegetarian nurseries per capita. Indian restaurants like Udipi Cafe serve traditional vegetarian and vegan meals, and places like Vegan International Co Kitchen & Market are unassuming yet delicious and affordable.
11. Washington D.C.
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 6
Vegetarian lifestyle: 8
The nation’s capital may not have representation in terms of voting, but it does it in terms of vegans and vegetarians. It’s the No. 3 city in the ranking of percentage of restaurants with vegetarian options and No. 5 in most farmers markets.
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 12
Vegetarian lifestyle: 22
After drinking the night away and gambling until you’ve given up, Vegas has plenty of spots you can go to feel better about yourself. Places like Veggie House, with vegetarian Chinese cuisine, and Simply Pure, with plant-based pasta, are sure to comfort you when you’re down.
9. San Diego, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 7
Vegetarian lifestyle: 42
Just like the rest of the Golden State, San Diego is no stranger to vegan and vegetarian diets. Anthem Vegan serves semi-fast foods like burritos and burgers while others places like Donna Jean have heartier fare, such as pasta and pizza.
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 16
Vegetarian lifestyle: 3
Just because Scottsdale is a desert city doesn’t mean that it has any shortage of plant-based restaurants. The names alone, like Grabbagreen, Flower Child, and Even Stevens, should pique your interest.
7. Austin, Texas
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 14
Vegetarian lifestyle: 39
Everyone’s excited to head down south for the BBQ and meat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be if you’re meat- or dairy-free. You, too, can partake in the delicious fun by going to BBQ Revolution, Biscuits and Groovy (all meat and dairy can be substituted!), and Baton Creole, where you can eat all the usual Southern comfort foods.
6. Los Angeles, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 10
Vegetarian lifestyle: 16
There’s no surprise that laid-back, health-conscious Los Angeles is high up on this list. With plenty of organic eateries in every neighborhood like Shojin and The Grain Cafe, you’ll definitely find a place to post up in no matter where you end up.
5. San Francisco, California
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 2
Vegetarian lifestyle: 2
While San Francisco can be a bit on the pricey side, it pays it back in terms of quality tenfold. We recommend Udupi Palace, with plates of Indian food bigger than you can imagine, and Nourish Cafe, with huge salads chock full of veggies.
4. Seattle, Washington
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 4
Vegetarian lifestyle: 6
The home of Starbucks is also home to some delicious food. Family-owned Wayward Vegan Cafe is one of the best examples of such, with its vegan twist on the typical American diner such as the “Tots-In-A Blanket-Burrito,” which is made up of tater tots, scrambled tofu, diced vegetables, and hollandaise sauce, all inside of a tortilla.
3. Orlando, Florida
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 3
Vegetarian lifestyle: 15
2. Portland, Oregon
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 5
Vegetarian lifestyle: 9
There’s no way anyone will ever be able to make their way through all the veg-friendly places in Portland, but they sure can try. PDX is a haven for all things vegan, with events like the Tofurkey Trot (a Thanksgiving fun run) and locales like the mini-mall that’s home to fully-vegan businesses, such as a grocery store, clothing store, and tattoo parlor.
1. New York City, New York
Diversity, accessibility, and quality: 1
Vegetarian lifestyle: 7
New York is a cultural melting pot, and its food scene reflects exactly that. You can find food for whatever type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, and its vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options are no exception. There’s an online guide that’ll provide you with choices from savory to sweet, like barbecue riblets at Seasoned Vegan or delectable desserts at Cinnamon Snail.
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