Most Per Capita?

Many of you know that I am relatively new to Grand Rapids but I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit. When I first came here I was overwhelmed not only by the quality of the vegan and vegetarian dining options but also the number of options we had for a town of this size. This led me to begin claiming in casual conversation that Grand Rapids had more vegan and vegetarian restaurants, per capita, than any other city in America (without anything to *actually* back that up).

And then, last week Isa Chandra Moskowitz sent out this tweet:

We, of course, responded saying that she needed to visit Grand Rapids because “We may have more vegan options per capita than any other city in the US. ” and invited her to come and be our guest. We realized that we really had no data to back our claim when she asked how we came to that conclusion. So, now we finally can now say that according to Happy Cow, we are the most veg-friendly city in the country! Salt Lake City holds the title of most vegan eateries per capita.

Fair warning. This is obviously pretty unscientific. Some points to consider:

1. We used Happy Cow as our guide, and even though we definitely plan to, we have yet to visit some of these fine cities and enjoy your vegan offerings. It’s possible that Happy Cow may not be up to date in your town.

2. We used this Wikipedia page to determine population size. This can be tricky with metro areas (I mean, does Atlanta EVER end?), so for that reason, we limited the Happy Cow search to five miles. We realize what that means for a city like Los Angeles, versus say NYC.

3. There are two scores. One for purely vegan restaurants per capita, and then also the total veg-friendly. SLC kicks everyone’s ass for having the most vegan joints per capita. The order below is for total restaurants…vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly.

4. This is just a number, and in my opinion, does nothing to actually indicate whether or not a city is actually vegan friendly. I think there are lots more things to consider overall health and friendliness. It may come to light that perhaps, per capita, Aberdeen, South Dakota has more options than anyone else. It’s unlikely that the town itself if vegan friendly….if you know what I mean (sorry South Dakota!)

5. I am not a math whiz. I failed college algebra, so statistics are certainly not my strong suit. We have, however, run these through a couple of people who do know this stuff so we think it’s solid on that front  (one of those may or may not have been our cat Carl). If you disagree, please let us know in the comments.

6. While we’d love for people to talk about this and talk about their city in a prideful way (seriously, feel free to boast!), we should remember that we are all on the same team. The most amazing thing about this was realizing just how large the vegan movement is growing across the country. This is really cool, and we shouldn’t forget that.

So without further ado…..drum roll

 

So you can see Grand Rapids, as it currently stands (updated as of 12/18/12), has the most “veg friendly” restaurants per capita over the other cities displayed. Crazy awesome!


  • Christa

    Ok now, in the non-competitive boasting way prescribed….My hometown Olympia, WA is a small town, but the places downtown have at least a few vegan items on the menu, pretty much every (non-chain) restaurant knows what vegan means/how to make it vegan, every potluck/community event/gathering I attend has vegan options and people either list the ingredients or label as vegan, and there are many collective houses in town that are vegan. Side note, 42 is a super-duper low estimate of veg friendly places in Seattle, though I assume that is true for many of the other cities on the list! If you still travel lots, let me know if you're in the area : ) I think Grand Rapids must have one of the most tight-knit, organized, loud and proud vegan communities (hence resources like this one) and the veg friendly options in GR are well known and supported. The vegan GR scene exploded in the 6 years I lived there!

    • vegangr

      Hi Christa!

      Yes, it's very possible that Seattle has more. Like I said, we chose five miles for the radius which for bigger more sprawl-esque cities might not be fair. Totally unscientific :)

      It's been a while since I've been to Seattle – I have family in Shelton so maybe we need to pay a visit to the Pacific NW!!

  • ryan

    Sorry but I would like to see a list of the 30 you are talking about because I just don't see it. Do you mean every place that has a salad?

  • Veggie Guy

    I am a long time user of happy cow and 20 year vegetarian and frequent traveler.

    Your claim that grand rapids is the most "veg friendly" town in america is, frankly, absurd.

    "Veg-friendly" at happy cow is a any meat restaurant that wants to pay happy cow to be listed and in no way is a true barometer of the 'veg-friendliness' of a town.

    Grand Rapids has a total of 4 veggie restaurants. Re-run your percentages and you will fall way down to where you belong.

    The most per capita veggie restaurant city i've ever been to is Chang Mai, Thailand. It was veggie heaven!

    • http://www.vegangr.com Jon

      Veggie Guy – it was per capita based on happy cow listings. Not all happy cow listings are paid, it is however a user generated listings site. As you can see in their FAQ's, there is no charge to be listed: http://www.happycow.net/faq.html#sitelistings

      But because of the user generated nature of the listing, we fully admit that it's a pretty unscientific in the points in the actual post. We thought though, that it would be a fun way to start a conversation about veggie friendly towns.

      Cool to hear about that place in Thailand. Definitely adding that to our list to visit!

  • tricia

    Portland Maine or Portland Oregon? I'm assuming Oregon, huh?

    • vegangr

      Yes, Oregon Tricia.

  • Vincent442

    Sorry to bust your bubble here. Santa Monica(an independent city while within LA metro area WAS mistakenly NOT included) Also any local resident KNOWS the vibe in "SaMo" is VERY distinct mandating it as a SEPARATE city.
    Any without further ado the #'s Population-about 89000(latest census). Vegan restaurants within CITY LIMITS=9 http://www.happycow.net/gmaps/searchmap.php?distahttp://www.smgov.net/

    Santa Monica, California
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    "Santa Monica" redirects here. For other uses, see Santa Monica (disambiguation).
    Santa Monica, California
    City
    City of Santa Monica
    Downtown Santa Monica, as seen from the Santa Monica Pier.

    Seal
    Nickname(s): "SaMo"
    Motto: Populus felix in urbe felice (Latin)
    (English: "Fortunate people in a fortunate land")
    Location in Los Angeles County and the state of California
    Coordinates: 34°01′19″N 118°28′53″WCoordinates: 34°01′19″N 118°28′53″W
    Country United States of America
    State California
    County Los Angeles
    Settled August 3, 1769
    Incorporated December 9, 1886
    Government
    • Type Council–manager
    • Mayor Pam O'Connor
    Area[1]
    • Total 8.416 sq mi (21.80 km2)
    • Land 8.415 sq mi (21.79 km2)
    • Water 0.001 sq mi (0.003 km2)
    Elevation 105 ft (32 m)
    Population (2010)[2]
    • Total 89,736
    • Density 10,663.8/sq mi (4,117.3/km2)
    Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
    • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
    ZIP code(s) 90401–90411
    Area code(s) 310, 424
    FIPS code 06-70000[2]
    GNIS feature ID 1652792[3]
    Website http://www.smgov.net

    Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city is named after the Christian saint, Monica. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and Venice on the southeast. Santa Monica is home to many Hollywood celebrities and executives and is a mixture of affluent single-family neighborhoods, renters, surfers, professionals, and students. The Census Bureau 2010 population for Santa Monica is 89,736.