Washington D.C., the self-proclaimed “Chocolate City,” was named the most veggie-friendly city in the nation by the coupon site, LivingSocial. According to Mandala Research, a market research firm, “The District’s” diners have a propensity to think outside the standard American diet, choosing to patron the growing number vegetarian and vegan-inspired restaurants.
LivingSocial, which depends on research projects like this one in order to tailor their discounts to their clients’ needs, finds that many D.C. area diners see themselves as “health nuts,” willing to couple their fitness regimens with healthier meals. Considering that many of the people polled dined out over four days per week, this poll gave an indication of how much people will embrace alternative dining options if they’re given a chance to choose.
In a city where the population is over fifty percent African American, which is noticeably down from its seventy percent peak during the 1970’s, it is interesting to note where most of the vegan and vegetarian restaurants are situated in D.C.. According to VegDC’s wonderfully detailed maps of D.C.’s veggie joints, most of the vegetarian restaurants operate in exclusively white neighborhoods.
For example, four of the top five vegetarian restaurants on Yelp are located in majority white or affluent neighborhoods such as Georgetown, Dupont Circle, and recently gentrified Penn Quarter. The lone top five vegan restaurant that operates in an exclusively black neighborhood is Soul Vegetarian Exodus, which serves an vegan African American/ African Diaspora-inspired menu.
Even though there is not as much diversity in restaurant choices in black neighborhoods, as stated before, people of any race will try alternative eating joints as long they are accessible and affordable. Gentrification should not be the driving force for positive change in neighborhoods. In a city where almost ten percent of its population identify as vegetarian, education and community re-investment should open the twenty-six percent of African Americans living below the poverty line to healthy eating habits, regardless whether the food is vegetarian or not.
We here at Frugivore have profiled many of D.C. area vegans and vegetarians. Check them out and give them shout of encouragement and love!
FrugiVoice: How’s your city catering to vegetarian and vegan diners? What’s your favorite vegetarian restaurant?