Years ago, people would laugh at vegans. But today to become a vegan-friendly city or town is not just something that’s pretty cool to do, but also sets you up for more business success. A culture of plant-based food in compostable containers (rather than towns littered with fast food wrapping with wildlife harmed in road accidents from scavenging old bits of meat) is good for all creatures.
Do you know that Berlin is the most vegan-friendly city on earth? That’s because Germany has the highest amount of vegans by ratio on earth (they don’t all live on sausages and beer) and there is a strong holistic health culture too (Naturopaths have the same status as medical doctors). So due to this, in Germany it’s really easy to find grocery items, restaurants and hotels that are vegan-friendly – they even have all-vegan supermarkets in some towns.
Portland in Oregon (US) is another vegan-friendly paradise with street carts and vegan malls. Most big cities are okay, but some are better than others. If you live in New York, you’ll likely find it easier than say in Georgia. But that’s a shame, because these beautiful places (like Savannah) could be even better, without fast food litter thrown on the ground (one farmer’s idea in England is to have license numbers clocked, so people who litter after ordering through drive-thrus get fined – what a great idea).
In England, Manchester’s Unicorn Grocery is a people-owned vegan supermarket (they have a free guide to help you do the same) and even have a green roof to protect the habitat of a local endangered bird. It offers cloth bags and zero waste packaging too. The growing number of zero waste stores are mostly vegan (aside from a few beeswax food wraps). The UK’s most vegan-friendly cities are Brighton, Oxford, Edinburgh, Cambridge, York, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Cardiff and Glasgow (the days of deep-fried Mars Bars are long-gone).
- Get together with friends, to ask pubs, shops and restaurants to cater for you. Explain that vegans and non-vegans don’t want meat replaced by palm oil or coconut oil harvested by monkeys (Biona is a monkey-free brand). Focus on local and sustainable.
- You can get free cards to thank restaurants for serving vegan food. To encourage more vegan food.
- Write a joint community letter to the local paper, asking for more vegan-friendly foods in local shops and supermarkets. Make a list of your favourite brands and let them know – often the supermarkets don’t sell them, because they are not away of them. If they know that Moving Mountains vegan sausages are palm-oil free and pour right out of the cardboard box with no plastic packaging, they will likely want to stock them. If only because they will sell more.
- Learn to cook. Get yourself a few good books with proper food recipes, then you won’t be stuck looking for ‘vegan alternatives’ in towns that don’t sell nutritional yeast or smoked tofu. Go back to basics with a vegan bean chilli! See foods to keep away from pets.
- Be polite and call restaurants ahead to let them know. Often chefs will go out of their way to help (they should at least have a few vegan cookbooks to hand for today’s crowd). But if you surprise them, it may well be ‘vegetable rice followed by fruit salad’.
- Vegan London is a beautiful guide to 80 plant-based friendly cafes, restaurants and food stores. Discover creative twists on classic dishes, fusion cuisine and tempting desserts. Includes afternoon tea in Knightsbridge and falafel in Shoreditch. Also read An Opinionated Guide to Vegan London (fine dining to vegan cheesemongers)
How to Help Restaurants Go Vegan
There is no point in moaning about restaurants, if they don’t serve vegan food (or you always get minestrone soup and a salad – followed by a fruit salad). Many times, it’s simply that most chefs trained to cook with animal foods, don’t know what to serve. And are willing, if they know what people want to eat. If you are a chef, know that a quick look in our bookstore will find you hundreds of wonderful vegan recipe books, whether you cook traditional ethnic, fast or dessert foods. Here are some more ideas:
The Professional Vegan Cookbook offers quantity serving recipes ideal for cafes, restaurants, hotels, weddings and catering. Written by Chef Brian McCarthy (who has cooked for President Obama), you can customise the recipes using chef notes, and there are also tips on garnishes and sides. Covering meals from around the world, and 100 baking and dessert recipes. Includes tips on lowering production costs, and how to price a vegan meal, plus easy suggestions on what to offer on your vegan menu. One chapter gives lots of easy suggestions on what to offer on your vegan menu. From hash brown breakfasts to lunch ideas for sandwiches, wraps and French fries.
- Vegan Card & Vegan Vouchers both offer discounts for retail & online indie shops for food and other items like beauty and fashion
- Vegan Society, Vegetarian Society, Animal Aid and Viva! all give members discount cards
- Vegetarian Express offers promotion brochures with up to 30% off, alongside an online brochure detailing new brands to replace egg, meat, milk and fish. Another option is The Vegan Kind Wholesale.