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?
DC is pretty great in the veg “options” department. It’s rare that we go out to eat and can’t find something on the menu. Also, there are a handful of great exclusively vegan or vegetarian places, including my very favorite, Everlasting Life Cafe on Georgia Ave. Some of the best soul food I’ve ever had and it’s all vegan…keeps me going when the going get’s tough.
I live in Georgia and there’s little variety when it comes to vegan or vegetarian fare. Cafe Sunflower is great, as well as Lovin It Live. But with the exception of Soul Vegetarian, there is not one vegan or vegetarian restaurant in a black neighborhood, and our demographics are similar to DC.
I checked out the VegDC site and I was jealous over how many restaurants cater to my elk in DC 🙁
I live in Dayton, Ohio and we do not have a large Vegetarian option population. Your best bet here is to go to the Farmer’s Market and cook for yourself. There is a Vegan restaurant that is located in the Mall but it’s rather expensive for Mall food and they have TERRIBLE customer service. The other Vegetarian restaurant that was located on a main road closed because no one was going to them. I guess there just isn’t a high demand for Vegetarian restaurants around here. I had going out to eat because I have to get a Salad and then request no meat. I love going to visit other cities because I get to try Vegetarian option meals that I don’t at home and fall in love all over again.