By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 26, 2016
Credit: © Archive Holdings Inc. / Getty Images

Truth be told, when I first heard that PETA had recently written up a list of the five best vegan-friendly movie theaters, I found myself wondering, is that really necessary? Aren’t movie theaters mainly for watching movies? Then suddenly I imaged the bounty of butter being slathered over movie theater popcorn and began realizing that maybe the group has a point.

But as PETA quickly proves, the list is about far more than butter. Movie food options have become more enticing than they used to be, with many theaters even offering full dining menus – and many of these forward-thinking theaters aren’t just progressive when it comes to the movie going experience, but also about what they serve. As PETA puts it, “Growing numbers of movie theaters offer heartier, satisfying plant-based meals to enjoy while watching the big screen.”

So yes, the animal rights group’s website does give props to Film Scene in Iowa City (#5 on their list) for providing the option to “top your popcorn with nutritional yeast” among other things. But as you work your way to the top of the list, it turns out there are movie theaters out there that probably have larger vegan menus than your favorite local vegan restaurant.

For instance, topping the list is Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville. PETA praises it for a laundry list of vegan options: “Vegan queso for nachos, vegan ricotta on pizzas, The People’s BBQ Tofu Banh Mi sandwich, a vegan double chili cheese dog called The Wizard, vegan ‘Twankies,’ giant vegan blondie bars, and—in case your mind wasn’t already blown—chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, coffee, and beer-flavored vegan shakes.”

The other vegan-friendly theaters include Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, Central Cinema in Seattle Washington and The Parkway Theater in Oakland, California.

That’s a real dedication to vegan. I’m wondering if they extended that attitude to their feature presentations and banned the showing of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip for cruelty to rodents.