Richmond named among top Vegan-Friendly Cities in U.S.

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Vegan Curry Chicken served with rice noodle. (PHOTO: Phoenix Garden Vegetarian Restaurant)

RICHMOND, Va. — It can sometimes be tough for vegans to find restaurants serving meals that fit their animal-free lifestyle.

Fortunately for vegans in Central Virginia, there are a lot of options in the Richmond restaurant scene.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently included Richmond on its list of Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

“Richmond’s vegan cuisine covers every craving, from Buffalo wings and banh mi sandwiches to chicken cheesesteaks and meatball subs—all 100 percent meat-free,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said. “PETA applauds the city’s bustling vegan scene, which satisfies bellies, preserves the environment, and saves animals from suffering.”

Other cities that made the list were Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, San Diego, Nashville, Honolulu, Seattle and Austin.

Vegan dishes highlighted in by PETA included:

Phoenix Garden Vegetarian Restauranta noodle shop with crispy fried mock-shrimp and tender vegan drumsticks
Strange Matterquirky vegan standouts include the Revenge sandwich — with “ham,” jackfruit, and field roast between two gooey grilled “cheeses”
Raw Enlightenmentthe city’s first raw vegan outfit
For the Love of ChocolateCarytown candy shop that overflows with vegan confections, including “dozens of choices” in the self-serve jars.

Krissi Vandenberg, the Executive Director of Richmond-based Vegan Action, said this town has come a long way since she first moved here in 1991.

“It was really hard to find anything,” Vandenberg said. “We had to go to Ellwood Thompson’s for everything. There was really nowhere to go out to eat in Richmond for most of the 1990s.”

That changed, she said, in the next decade.

“In the 2000s, restaurants began to recognize there was a demand. Vegan is more of a household word now.”

She credited the change to vegans being vocal about their eating choice and the lifestyle, as a whole, being accepted as less fringe, more health conscious.

To help fellow vegans navigate Richmond’s restaurant scene, Vegan Action created a local food guide highlighting vegan restaurants and dishes.

The guide is available online and is handed out at local events like Earth Day.

Vandenberg said she appreciated the recognition for the city, but said PETA missed highlighting the best vegan dish Richmond has to offer.

“The Harrison Street Coffee Shop makes a barbecue tofu sandwich you must try,” she said.