The Best (and Worst) Cities for Vegetarians and Vegans, According to a New Study
Some usual suspects like New York and Portland topped the list while Greensboro finished dead last.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are more mainstream than ever before – and vegetarian distinctions have become a common site on restaurant menus. But people who don't eat meat are still majorly in the minority – one 2016 poll suggests that only about 3.3 percent of all U.S. adults are vegetarian – and as any vegetarian who's taken a road trip can attest too, certain parts of the country are more veggie-friendly than others. In fact, that same poll suggests that whereas 5.4 percent of adults in the Northeast are vegetarian, in the Midwest and South, the number drops to 2.3 percent.
But breaking down the ease of a vegetarian lifestyle by region is pretty broad. So personal finance site WalletHub decided to dig into the numbers a little deeper. The company's analysists looked at the 100 largest American cities and compared them across "15 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness" including things like the cost of groceries for vegetarians, the percentage of restaurants serving meatless options and salad shops per capita (which, okay, is a little one-note, but fair enough). WalletHub then went on to rank all 100 cities, and the results are… well… not very surprising at all.
When ranked by overall score, the top ten is full of the usual alternative-lifestyle suspects: New York is number one, followed by Portland, Oregon; Orlando; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Seattle; Washington, DC; Scottsdale; Miami; and San Diego. On the opposite end of the spectrum, working your way up from the bottom, Greensboro, North Carolina, finished dead last, followed by Toledo; Fresno; Tulsa; Baton Rouge; Henderson, Nevada; Stockton; Oklahoma City; San Bernardino; and North Las Vegas.
However, since WalletHub looked at 15 different factors, some cities did better in certain categories than others, and if you're interested, you can easily take a closer look at these specifics. For instance, Honolulu probably would have performed better overall had it not ranked next to last in affordability. Meanwhile, WalletHub also created a separate "Vegetarian Lifestyle" ranking which focused on how vegetarian a city was compared to the national average, overall fruit and vegetable consumption, vegan and vegetarian meetups per capita, and whether or not the area hosts any vegan or vegetarian festivals. In this subcategory, Anaheim topped the list – while Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Laredo and Lubbock, Texas, tied for dead last.
That said, though Texas cities struggled in some categories, four out of the top five cheapest cities for groceries for vegetarians were all in the Lone Star state. Another interesting finding, the city with the highest percentage of restaurants serving vegan options was none other than Orlando. (Gotta keep all the tourists equally happy, perhaps?)
Regardless, if you want to dig through the sortable rankings or take a closer look at WalletHub's methodology, you can waste plenty of time on the company's website seeing how your home city or next travel destination fared and why.