New York’s Hudson Valley is the beautiful span of mountainous land that surrounds the majestic Hudson River (located north of New York City). An easy drive for a day-trip from the city, the region is the perfect autumn escape thanks to leaves on the trees turning brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Out-of-towners who come to see the leaves change colors are called “leaf peepers” by locals, but gorgeous leaves aren’t the only thing visitors love about the Hudson Valley. With two vegan festivals, plant-based restaurants, and three farmed-animal sanctuaries, this fall getaway is also a great vegan destination. Here are a few spots we hit whenever we’re looking to get away from the city and into the country.
1. Veg fests
Not too long ago, Hudson Valley dwellers needed to travel to Albany or New York City for a veg fest, but now their cup runneth over with two vegan festivals that call the area home. On September 23 and 24, the first Hudson Valley Veg Fest will be held in Poughkeepsie. Featuring more than 75 vendors and numerous speakers (including author Victoria Moran), the event also includes a screening of the acclaimed film What the Health. This year also saw the second annual Hudson Valley Vegan Food Festival in the city of Newburgh, highlighted local vegan restaurants, and featured yoga workshops and health and wellness vendors.
Autumn might bring changing leaves, but vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are sprouting like spring flowers around the Hudson Valley. In the small but vibrant town of Red Hook sits Morgan’s Cat Cafe, a cozy eatery with a room devoted to adoptable cats and a kitchen that serves all-vegan fare. Delicious cruelty-free dishes include a Buffalo Chik’n Sandwich, Power Hummus Wrap, and a cat-shaped cookie for dessert. A bit closer to New York City, the city of Beacon has recently seen the opening of its first all-vegan restaurant with the launch of Végétalien (which means “vegan” in French). The menu includes a spiced pumpkin soup (perfect for fall), and a portabello panini with caramelized onions and sundried tomato mayonnaise.
3. Farmed-animal sanctuaries
The sanctuary movement is growing, and more of these expansive shelters for abused farmed animals are opening as more people are inspired to take action for the animals. In the Hudson Valley, there are three farmed-animal sanctuaries with wonderful facilities that offer great care and opportunities to meet the animals. Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary is located in Poughquag (near the Pawling Metro-North train station), and is home to pigs, chickens, sheep, and goats. With plenty of space to stretch and explore and care from founders Bill and Ellen Crain (and their staff), Safe Haven is the place to be for vegan tours and events such as November’s Thanksgiving Celebration for the Turkeys. Across the Hudson River from Poughquag are two sanctuaries, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary (in High Falls) and Catskill Animal Sanctuary (in Saugerties). Both offer tour and volunteer opportunities, and a plethora of special events. Catskill Animal Sanctuary hosts vegan cooking lessons and film screenings (both of which are great for weekend trips to the area), while Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is known for its annual Jamboree and Thanksliving events that see many from New York City travel to the Hudson Valley to spend time with the animals.
Where would vegan chocolate be today without the offerings of Lagusta’s Luscious? Lagusta Yearwood’s famously divine chocolate offerings, from truffles to bars to bonbons, have their environmentally friendly home in the heart of New Paltz, NY at the Lagusta’s Luscious shop on North Front Street. Yearwood has also opened the all-vegan café-esque hangout Commissary, which offers an assortment of cold and hot beverages, macaroni and cheese casserole, socialist sliding scale soup, and homemade croissants.
If you’re seeking sanctuary among the changing leaves, book a stay at Omega in Rhinebeck. This 40-year old nonprofit center is located on the former site of a sleep-away camp and offers soul-nurturing workshops that focus on yoga, writing, spirituality, and more. Between classes, wander through the garden to the rustic dining hall, where a variety of vegan options are served. If the main buffet isn’t appealing, there is always a basics bar offering whole foods such as brown rice and steamed greens. Furthermore, the retreat’s popular bookshop sells plenty of books on vegan topics to read while you’re relaxing by the lake or in your snug dorm room before bed.
Maya Gottfried is the author of Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal and Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Lagusta’s Luscious