By Joann Pan
These days being a vegetarian isn’t as hard as it used to be, but we say that from a big city standpoint. We’re not quite sure how it is for folks in small towns. Here in NYC, instead of getting a burger, there’s always an option for pizza or salad. Instead of having a sausage sandwich for breakfast, there’s always an option to get some sweetly caked waffles from a food truck. With a plethora of stands, kiosks and restaurants in New York City  [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $5,286: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]that seem to take up every nook and cranny of our beloved city, it’s actually hard to eat meat every day (and not that hard to eat meat ever again) when there’s so much vegetarian food around—from the cheap and delicious falafel sandwiches on St. Marks, avocado rolls in Midtown , to the meat-shaped tofu Asian place that we enjoy when we visit the beloved borough of Queens . Our vegetarian food tours of our hometown have inspired us to see what’s available in other hometowns across the U.S. This is for you current veggies or wannabe vegetarians out there: Relocation.com’s Guide to the Best Vegetarian Towns in the U.S.
Austin, Texas [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $1,239: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Wow—who knew that there was such a big vegetarian metropolis in the southern state of Texas where the beef and poultry are abundant. Personally, without having taken a trip to out West, I only know of Texas  from the old-time cowboy movies and from trying out a Texas-style steakhouse in Queens (pre-veggie days). From doing vast research online; we found out that Austin vegetarians love living animal-friendly in their city. They are really proud of the fact that they can ride their bicycles (Austin is also one of the greenest cities in the U.S., according to USAToday.com ) to get to a dozen vegan trailers and cafes with ease. Some of the mentionable restaurants are: Counter Culture  (we hear that their Jackfruit Philly is delicious), Korean vegetarian restaurant Koriente and Casa de Luz  (picture lush green decorations and pebbled paths leading to the most peaceful meal you’ve ever had).
Portland, Oregon [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $1,626: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Goveg.com and Relocation.com love Portland, Oregon —who recently named it “America’s Best Vegetarian-Friendly Large City” and the top city people are relocating to  (in respective order). They say Portland is a big city (much like NYC) that persuades people to eat vegetarian with convenient veggie meals on wheels, amazing animal-free meals at star restaurants and vegan desserts you can only have here. Such as something called a Voodoo Doughnut  that sells many vegan options that includes the “Fruit Loop Donut,” which you can imagine looks like something out of your childhood breakfast bowl and the “Old Dirty Bastard,” which actually doesn’t look how it sounds—it’s a doughnut with chocolate frosting, crumbled Oreos and peanut butter drizzle. And when we looked up vegetarian places in Portland we came up with over 1,035 restaurants, carts and bistros that include popular digs such as Vita Café in Alberta Arts District, Paradox Café in Southeast Portland, and Swagat Indian Cuisine in Alphabet District.
San Francisco, California [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $3,969: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
San Francisco the city by the bay is a perfect location for vegetarians because of the plethora of vegan restaurants and organic food markets. I can even say that the vegetarian establishments can outnumber the city’s large number of cafes. PETA lists it in spot number seven on a list of “The Most Veg-Friendly Cities in North America.” I believe it should be higher on the list. There were over 2,777 restaurants that came up as vegetarian when we did our own search. Some of the most popular vegetarian/vegan restaurants we know of are: Weird Fish  in the Mission neighborhood, Greens  in Cow Hollow, Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant  in Inner Sunset, The Plant Café Organic  in Cow Hollow (we seriously recommend the green curry) and Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant  in Civic Center.
Asheville, North Carolina [average rent for a two-bedroom apartment $827: Figure provided by www.mynewplace.com]
Asheville is different than the big vegetarian cities we’ve featured because it’s a small town nestled in the back woods of North Carolina . Asheville was once named “the Happiest City in America” by Self Magazine; probably because of all the vegetarian eateries and pleasant neighbors that the city has to offer. Asheville veggies love the Sunny Point Café and Bakery  that serves amazing tofu chorizo, we hear, and the best mussels in town. After dinnertime, head over to the Crispycat , where you can buy and taste the very first candy bar of its kind made from fully organic ingredients. There is the chocolate sundae flavor, mint coconut flavor and the toasted almond bar, all made from real organic ingredients.
Of course, we have only skimmed the surface of the best vegetarian-friendly towns in the U.S. What are your favorite vegetarian cities? Let us know where you had the best vegetarian/vegan meal—we never pass up the opportunity for a good food story.
Here are other lists for the best vegetarian towns:
• North America’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities  [GoVeg.com]
• Top 16 Best Vegetarian Cities in the USA  [Vegetarian-Restaurants.net]
• The Most Veg-Friendly Cities in North America  [PETA]
Joann Pan is a freelance writer and photographer based in New York City. She has interned and contributed to Buffalo Spree Magazine and Racked NY.