About 15.5 million U.S. adults are vegan or vegetarian. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest lifestyle to adopt, as finding meatless options at restaurants and supermarkets can be a challenge. That’s beginning to change, though, as more and more venues have begun to offer vegetarian or vegan meals, including many fast-food chains.
One of the biggest concerns people express about vegetarian or vegan diets is the cost. However, with meat costs rising faster than those of fruits and vegetables, Americans may find working some vegetarian or vegan meals into their diet to be an attractive option.
Fortunately, many U.S. cities offer plentiful and inexpensive options for budget-conscious herbivores. To determine the best and cheapest places for a plant-based diet, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 17 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness. We examined each city based on such metrics as the cost of groceries for vegetarians, the share of restaurants serving meatless options and salad shops per capita.
Most Vegetarian- & Vegan-Friendly Cities
||City||Total Score||Affordability||Diversity, Accessibility & Quality||Vegetarian Lifestyle|
|3||Los Angeles, CA||52.97||45||17||2|
|7||San Francisco, CA||51.74||99||1||1|
|9||San Diego, CA||50.78||35||8||19|
|14||El Paso, TX||48.45||4||80||53|
|16||Las Vegas, NV||47.84||26||16||26|
|19||Fort Wayne, IN||47.25||8||74||70|
|30||New York, NY||44.35||91||6||18|
|31||San Antonio, TX||44.29||10||59||77|
|34||St. Louis, MO||43.70||68||29||63|
|41||Corpus Christi, TX||42.37||2||90||82|
|42||Long Beach, CA||42.13||79||38||34|
|43||Jersey City, NJ||41.73||31||89||33|
|49||Colorado Springs, CO||41.15||65||48||48|
|51||Virginia Beach, VA||40.47||48||58||59|
|58||Oklahoma City, OK||39.90||14||67||29|
|61||St. Petersburg, FL||39.00||84||35||41|
|71||Kansas City, MO||37.30||34||75||23|
|71||New Orleans, LA||37.30||59||32||32|
|73||St. Paul, MN||37.07||72||71||43|
|76||Baton Rouge, LA||36.71||54||57||93|
|83||Fort Worth, TX||35.56||23||81||79|
|91||Santa Ana, CA||32.30||88||82||38|
|96||North Las Vegas, NV||29.71||22||100||94|
|98||Chula Vista, CA||29.43||66||95||76|
|99||San Jose, CA||29.09||97||51||71|
|100||San Bernardino, CA||25.11||83||91||83|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that city, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
- 1. Fort Wayne, IN
- 2. Kansas City, MO
- 3. Corpus Christi, TX
- 4. Oklahoma City, OK
- 5. Lexington-Fayette, KY
- 96. New York, NY
- 97. Oakland, CA
- 98. Fremont, CA
- 99. San Francisco, CA
- 100. Honolulu, HI
- T-1. Plano, TX
- T-1. Chandler, AZ
- 3. Scottsdale, AZ
- 4. St. Petersburg, FL
- 5. Washington, DC
- 96. Stockton, CA
- 97. North Las Vegas, NV
- 98. San Bernardino, CA
- 99. Newark, NJ
- 100. Laredo, TX
- T-1. Scottsdale, AZ
- T-1. St. Petersburg, FL
- T-1. Washington, DC
- T-1. New Orleans, LA
- T-1. New York, NY
- 96. Garland, TX
- 97. Hialeah, FL
- 98. Newark, NJ
- 99. Laredo, TX
- 100. North Las Vegas, NV
- 1. Miami, FL
- 2. San Francisco, CA
- 3. New York, NY
- 4. Portland, OR
- 5. San Diego, CA
- 94. Fort Wayne, IN
- 95. Irving, TX
- 96. North Las Vegas, NV
- 97. Newark, NJ
- 98. Lincoln, NE
- T-1. Miami, FL
- T-1. Las Vegas, NV
- T-1. Orlando, FL
- T-1. Honolulu, HI
- T-1. San Diego, CA
- 96. Winston-Salem, NC
- 97. Henderson, NV
- 98. Milwaukee, WI
- 99. Toledo, OH
- 100. Chesapeake, VA
- T-1. Atlanta, GA
- T-1. San Francisco, CA
- T-1. Miami, FL
- T-1. Orlando, FL
- T-1. Pittsburgh, PA
- 96. Henderson, NV
- 97. Garland, TX
- 98. Laredo, TX
- 99. North Las Vegas, NV
- 100. San Bernardino, CA
- 1. Miami, FL
- 2. Orlando, FL
- 3. Tampa, FL
- 4. Tucson, AZ
- 5. Portland, OR
- 96. Laredo, TX
- 97. Henderson, NV
- 98. Jersey City, NJ
- 99. Boston, MA
- 100. Newark, NJ
Ask the Experts
Cutting meat from your diet requires commitment and, in some cases, extra cash. To help you switch successfully to a vegan or vegetarian diet while sticking to your budget, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for someone who wishes to adopt a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle while on a budget?
- Should the government subsidize the purchase of fruits and vegetables by discounting the price for people using food stamps?
- What can parents do to encourage children to consume more veggies?
- What tips do you have for someone who wishes to become a vegetarian? How can the transition be made smoother?
- What are the most common mistakes people make when being on a vegan or vegetarian diet, and how can they avoid them?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best cities for vegans and vegetarians in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Diversity, Accessibility & Quality and 3) Vegetarian Lifestyle.
We evaluated those dimensions using 17 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for vegans and vegetarians. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. In constructing our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area.
Affordability – Total Points: 33.33
- Cost of Groceries for Vegetarians: Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
Note: “Groceries” excludes all animal products, except dairy and eggs.
- Availability of Affordable, Highly Rated Restaurants Serving Vegan & Vegetarian Options: Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
Note: “Highly Rated” refers to a rating of at least 4.5 stars.
- Average Meal Cost: Full Weight (~11.11 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated using the following formula: Average Dollar Amount Spent on Food per Week by Food-Secure Individuals / 21 Meals (three meals per day X seven days per week).
Diversity, Accessibility & Quality – Total Points: 33.33
- Share of Restaurants Serving Vegetarian Options: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Share of Restaurants Serving Vegan Options: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Farmers Markets & CSA Programs per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: “CSA” refers to community-supported agriculture.
- Certified Organic Farms per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Juice & Smoothie Bars per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Salad Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Vegetable Nurseries per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Community Gardens per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Access to Fresh Vegetarian Food*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: “Fresh Vegetarian Food” refers to vegetable, melon, potato, sweet potato, fruit, tree-nut, berry and cow-milk production per capita.
- Vegetarian Cooking Classes per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Vegetarian Lifestyle – Total Points: 33.33
- Ranking on Grubhub’s List of Cities Most Likely to Order Vegetarian or Vegan: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: This metric was used as a proxy for the vegetarian population and is based on GrubHub’s data analysis of “more than 30,000 restaurants’ pickup and delivery orders” to determine where customers are most likely to order vegetarian or vegan options.
- Vegetable & Fruit Consumption: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of adults who consumed vegetables and fruits one or more times per day and was used as a proxy for the vegetarian population. A lower share of adults who consume fruits and vegetables daily indicates a lower probability of vegetarian prevalence.
- Vegan & Vegetarian Meetups per Capita*: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Availability of Vegan & Vegetarian Festivals: Full Weight (~8.33 Points)
Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of vegan and vegetarian festivals, as follows:
1 – The city hosts a vegan and vegetarian festival.
0 – The city does not host a vegan and vegetarian festival.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feeding America, Yelp, TripAdvisor, USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database, The Trust for Public Land, United States Department of Agriculture, Vegan.com, GrubHub and Meetup.
Supporting Video Files:
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- YouTube - Portland, OR (for web embedding)
- Raw video files (for editing into clips)