Although technically a borough of New York City, Brooklyn can hold its own. With ample coastline and parkland, a diverse and politically active population of 2.5 million, and a passion for cuisine both ethnic and ethical, this gentle giant packs delicious surprises for any vegetarian. The borough that invented the hot dog has gone green—in a big way.
First, all you need is a good pair of walking shoes and an inexpensive New York City Transit MetroCard, and you’re ready to explore the diverse, creative, and delicious world beyond Manhattan. There are many routes to Brooklyn, but really only one way to go: by walking across the famed Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t forget to pause at the midway point and take in the breathtaking views from all directions.
Once on the Brooklyn side, take the M or R subway line to the Union Street station for the short walk to the 100-percent vegan The V-Spot restaurant. Try the chocolate-chip whole-wheat pancakes with maple syrup and tempeh bacon. Wash it all down with a super-sweet chocolate or vanilla shake, and you’ll be in cruelty-free culinary heaven. This tasty restaurant also offers a diverse array of lunch and dinner selections including a beyond-delish “chicken” cutlet hero and sesame seitan.
Next, board the 2 or 3 subway line to Grand Army Plaza, the main entrance to Prospect Park. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux are probably best known for designing Manhattan’s Central Park, but many insist that this is their NYC masterpiece. For a great communal (and artistic) experience, check out Celebrate Brooklyn!, a free outdoor performing arts festival held every summer.
Across the street from the Park, nature awaits at the magnificent Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Cool down among the many “gardens within the Garden,” including the Cranford Rose garden, the Shakespeare garden, and the Children’s garden. On the other side of the street, hike or laze among Prospect Park’s 585 acres of woods, water, and winding paths. Within and along the two parks you can study birds at the Audubon Center, check out free performances, and pop into an historic house museum.
When it comes to spending the night, a massive tourist hotel just won’t cut it. Instead, check in to The Park Slope Bed and Breakfast. Among the amenities: organic continental breakfast, on-site yoga studio and Zen room, all-natural toiletries, and facilities maintained with environmentally friendly cleaning agents.
While Williamsburg isn’t exactly in the middle of Brooklyn, the neighborhood is worth a stop for galleries and Foodswings. The cruelty-free hipster café specializes in heartland-style fast food, including the Vegan Heart Attack, a bacon cheeseburger to satisfy any veg long-distance trucker, and yummy milkshakes. For healthier fare, head over to ‘Snice for sandwiches, coffee, and local chatter.