To celebrate VegNews naming the Top 10 Best Vegan Cities in America (found in our May+June 2017 issue), we asked our favorite vegans to explain why their winning town should be atop every meat-free traveler’s list.
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear someone say they’re planning on moving to Portland, have just moved to Portland, know someone who should move to Portland, or wish more than anything that they could move to Portland, all because Portland is SO VEGAN. Often, this dreamer is from a small town somewhere far from a major city and knows exactly zero vegans (or maybe one). I always reassure these dreamers that they need to be in that small town, showing folks that veganism is possible and that vegans really are everywhere … there’s just a lot more of us in PDX. And with vegan macaroni-and-cheese burritos, a vegan mini-mall, and a Thanksgiving day fun run that’s cruelty-free, it’s no wonder Portland has been heralded as one of the best vegan cities in the world.
Top 3 vegan eateries
1. Canteen: I am a creature of habit and convenience, and Canteen is on the same street as The Herbivore Clothing Company. I can get a supremely delicious lunch there that is also healthy. Plus, every single thing on the menu is fantastic.
2. The Sudra: Who wouldn’t love vegan Indian food that perfectly balances that line between healthy and decadent? Plus, what’s not to love about great beers and drinks, indoor and outdoor seating, Indian movie posters, and a killer happy hour?
3. Bye and Bye: Like I said, habit and convenience! A perfect night is dinner at Bye and Bye with my husband and daughter, a few beers, running into friends, chats with longtime bartenders. Even better? The restaurant is seven minutes from my home.
Top 3 non-vegan restaurants with vegan options
1. A.N.D. Café: My most favorite breakfast in Portland is the Soul Bowl at A.N.D. Café. Biscuits, homemade meatloaf, steamed kale, and sausage gravy are my fuel for the entire day. It’s a vegetarian cafe, but everything can be made vegan.
2. Dove Vivi: I don’t go to Dove Vivi Pizza very often, but every time I do I get the corn cashew pizza because it’s mind blowing. The cornmeal crust, the cashew cheese, and the optional roasted tomatoes make this one of my favorite pizzas in a town full of vegan pizza.
3. Ya Hala: I love Ya Hala, a Lebanese restaurant owned by the people who run World Foods, a fantastic international foods market. The veggie kibbeh has been a favorite of mine for more than 10 years.
Favorite vegan item in Portland
I can’t pick one favorite menu item for a whole city! A few favorites are the falafel sandwich with a side of roasted cauliflower from Falafel House, the Peacock Salad from The Sudra, the Eastern Bowl at Bye and Bye, and the Portland Bowl at Canteen.
Ultimate vegan meal
Great local, curated beer is always my drink. To eat the ultimate Portland vegan meal, I’d have the antipasto platter at Sweet Hereafter, the Kale Salad with Mac Nut Cheeze from Pixie Retreat, and the carrot potato gnocchi from Of Roots and Blooms, and I’d finish it off with a sundae from Back To Eden Bakery.
First-stop for a visiting vegan friend
After we visit The Herbivore Clothing Company and everyone at the vegan mini-mall, we’d head to Sweet Hereafter for a drink and soft pretzels. If we’re sticking close to my home, we’d definitely hit Bye and Bye for drinks and soft pretzels.
Top three vegan desserts
1. Food Fight! Grocery: I absolutely love the Rawdacious Cheesecake sold at Food Fight! Grocery.
2. Back to Eden Bakery: For perfect cake, it’s got to be the Lemon Lavender Poppyseed Cake at Back to Eden. Or a sundae. Or a cupcake. They have locations in NE and SE Portland, meaning we can get a fix anytime.
3. Doe Donuts: The newest addition to Portland’s crazy sweet tooth is Doe Donuts, and they don’t disappoint! So far, I’ve tried the lemon twist and one filled with cookie dough. YUM.
Favorite non-food activity
I’m a huge fan of the Tofurky Trot held every Thanksgiving. The event always benefits a few important nonprofit organizations and is a great way to begin a day of indulgence by running or walking. I was at the very first Trot with the founder of Tofurky and VegNews’ own Jasmin Singer, and I’ve done several since!
Vegan king and/or queen of Portland
Portland isn’t a royals type of town. Our people wouldn’t want the title, and I honestly can’t think of anyone that fits the bill except my rescued Basset hound Sassy. She is totally a queen.
One amazing vegan thing in Portland every city should have
The amazing thing about Portland is that veganism is pervasive. Everyone knows a vegan, most places have a good vegan option and everyone knows what “vegan” means. I credit a lot of that to our local group Northwest VEG. They do our popular vegfest annually but also bring world-renowned speakers, chefs, doctors, advocates, and activists to the city. They host potlucks, veganic gardening groups, movie nights, cooking classes, master vegetarian classes, and veg 101 workshops. They’re unstoppable, and it’s good old-fashioned grassroots work done right!
Michelle Schwegmann is co-founder of The Herbivore Clothing Company.