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Which American cities are most, least friendly toward vegans and vegetarians?

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World Vegetarian Day was October 1 and World Vegan Day is November 1.

According to WalletHub, 15.5 million American adults are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

The personal finance website compared 100 of the largest cities in the United States across 17 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness to create its 2022’s Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians.

Data includes restaurants that serve meatless options to the cost of groceries for vegetarians, to salad shops per capita.

The most vegan- and vegetarian-friendly city in the U.S. is Portland, Oregan, followed by Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Austin.

Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Washington, D.C., Bakersfield, Calif., and Las Vegas have work to do to become vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

The highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options is 63.65 percent in Plano, Texas, 21.6 times higher than in Laredo, which is the city with the lowest at 2.95 percent.

Vegan restaurants are most popular in Scottsdale, Ariz., with 16.26 percent, which is 19.6 times more than in north Las Vegas, the city with the least amount at 0.83.

Atlanta has the most salad shops for square root of population at 0.2296, 17.8 times more than in San Bernadino, where salad shops are at 0.0129.

What do the experts say for individuals who want to life a vegan or vegetarian diet on a budget?

“A plant-based lifestyle can be very affordable. Frozen or canned produce can be more affordable than fresh, especially if you are eating out of season,” Dr. Robin M. Tucker, associate professor at Michigan State University, said in a press release. “Frozen and canned also keep for much longer, which minimizes costs related to food waste. Making your own meals will cost less than relying on prepackaged meals. Minimally processed proteins like beans, peanut butter, dairy or tofu are less expensive than meat alternatives that are intended to replicate burgers, chicken nuggets and so on.”

Dr. Heidi Lynch, associate professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, said a plant-based diet can be economical.

“I recommend buying bulk dried pulses (which include beans, lentils, and peas) and stocking up when they go on sale. Dried beans are inexpensive, and using reusable bags when buying in bulk is environmentally friendly as well. To prepare dried beans, soak them overnight, simmer on medium heat for an hour in the morning, rinse them off, and store them in the refrigerator. They should last several days and they freeze well.”

Experts also have tips on how to get your children to eat more veggies.

“One of the most important things parents can do is to model eating fruits and vegetables,” Jane Burrell, a registered dietician and associate teaching professor at Syracuse University said. “Children learn to eat by watching their parents eat and their preferences reflect what they are served regularly. This means parents eat fruits and vegetables every day and incorporate them into meals and snacks that they provide to their children.”

Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer, professor and director of the Master in Nutrition and Dietetics Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said parents should serve or offer a variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways.

“I believe the parent’s job is to expose the children to the food and it is the child’s job to decide how much to eat,” Larson-Meyer said. “I think eventually kids become interested in foods and will try them…Children often need to be exposed several times to a food dish before they like it. I also found that my children were more accepting of vegetables when they were blended in soups or smoothies or lightly salted and roasted in olive oil. I even hooked a few college athletes on broccoli and cauliflower by serving it broiled with garlic and olive oil. And it is so easy!”

Experts offered how to avoid the most common mistakes when on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

“I feel the most common mistake of eating a vegan or vegetarian diet is the motivation behind the change,” Alisa Dodds, Senior Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University, said. “If a person drastically changes their eating (in any form) due to a strongly held desire to lose weight, or change their body size, then I would categorize this as a ‘diet’. From the research, we know that dieting or restriction with eating is not successful long-term (i.e., not greater than a couple of years at most). If, however, a person is motivated to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet due to moral, ethical, religious or just food preferences, they are less likely to be affected by a scarcity mindset, and more likely to continue eating vegetarian or vegan. Eating in a way that aligns with your core values is less likely to feel restrictive. Whereas, removing food in hopes that it will lead to weight loss feels the restrictive and long-term success of maintaining this eating pattern is diminished. With restriction we often see the pendulum swing in an equal and opposite direction, leading to an increased desire to eat the restricted foods even more.”

Burrell said a common mistake she sees is individuals cut animal foods out of their diet without replacing them with plant-based foods.

“This can leave someone without enough calories to be satisfied. Also, being vegetarian does not mean that whole food groups should be eliminated, instead, look for alternatives in each one. For example, replace meat or chicken with beans and rice and substitute soy milk or yogurt for cow’s milk and yogurt. Another thing I see is the reliance on processed plant-based foods instead of cooking or using whole foods. Processed food of all types has added sugars and sodium that most people do not need more of,” Burrell said.

tarian Day was October 1 and World Vegan Day is November 1.

According to WalletHub, 15.5 million American adults are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

The personal finance website compared 100 of the largest cities in the United States across 17 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness to create its 2022’s Best Cities for Vegans & Vegetarians.

Data includes restaurants that serve meatless options to the cost of groceries for vegetarians, to salad shops per capita.

The most vegan- and vegetarian-friendly city in the U.S. is Portland, Oregan, followed by Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Austin.

Chicago, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Washington, D.C., Bakersfield, Calif., and Las Vegas have work to do to become vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

The highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options is 63.65 percent in Plano, Texas, 21.6 times higher than in Laredo, which is the city with the lowest at 2.95 percent.

Vegan restaurants are most popular in Scottsdale, Ariz., with 16.26 percent, which is 19.6 times more than in north Las Vegas, the city with the least amount at 0.83.

Atlanta has the most salad shops for square root of population at 0.2296, 17.8 times more than in San Bernadino, where salad shops are at 0.0129.

What do the experts say for individuals who want to life a vegan or vegetarian diet on a budget?

“A plant-based lifestyle can be very affordable. Frozen or canned produce can be more affordable than fresh, especially if you are eating out of season,” Dr. Robin M. Tucker, associate professor at Michigan State University, said in a press release. “Frozen and canned also keep for much longer, which minimizes costs related to food waste. Making your own meals will cost less than relying on prepackaged meals. Minimally processed proteins like beans, peanut butter, dairy or tofu are less expensive than meat alternatives that are intended to replicate burgers, chicken nuggets and so on.”

Dr. Heidi Lynch, associate professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, said a plant-based diet can be economical.

“I recommend buying bulk dried pulses (which include beans, lentils, and peas) and stocking up when they go on sale. Dried beans are inexpensive, and using reusable bags when buying in bulk is environmentally friendly as well. To prepare dried beans, soak them overnight, simmer on medium heat for an hour in the morning, rinse them off, and store them in the refrigerator. They should last several days and they freeze well.”

Experts also have tips on how to get your children to eat more veggies.

“One of the most important things parents can do is to model eating fruits and vegetables,” Jane Burrell, a registered dietician and associate teaching professor at Syracuse University said. “Children learn to eat by watching their parents eat and their preferences reflect what they are served regularly. This means parents eat fruits and vegetables every day and incorporate them into meals and snacks that they provide to their children.”

Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer, professor and director of the Master in Nutrition and Dietetics Program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, said parents should serve or offer a variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways.

“I believe the parent’s job is to expose the children to the food and it is the child’s job to decide how much to eat,” Larson-Meyer said. “I think eventually kids become interested in foods and will try them…Children often need to be exposed several times to a food dish before they like it. I also found that my children were more accepting of vegetables when they were blended in soups or smoothies or lightly salted and roasted in olive oil. I even hooked a few college athletes on broccoli and cauliflower by serving it broiled with garlic and olive oil. And it is so easy!”

Experts offered how to avoid the most common mistakes when on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

“I feel the most common mistake of eating a vegan or vegetarian diet is the motivation behind the change,” Alisa Dodds, Senior Lecturer at Loyola Marymount University, said. “If a person drastically changes their eating (in any form) due to a strongly held desire to lose weight, or change their body size, then I would categorize this as a ‘diet’. From the research, we know that dieting or restriction with eating is not successful long-term (i.e., not greater than a couple of years at most). If, however, a person is motivated to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet due to moral, ethical, religious or just food preferences, they are less likely to be affected by a scarcity mindset, and more likely to continue eating vegetarian or vegan. Eating in a way that aligns with your core values is less likely to feel restrictive. Whereas, removing food in hopes that it will lead to weight loss feels the restrictive and long-term success of maintaining this eating pattern is diminished. With restriction we often see the pendulum swing in an equal and opposite direction, leading to an increased desire to eat the restricted foods even more.”

Burrell said a common mistake she sees is individuals cut animal foods out of their diet without replacing them with plant-based foods.

“This can leave someone without enough calories to be satisfied. Also, being vegetarian does not mean that whole food groups should be eliminated, instead, look for alternatives in each one. For example, replace meat or chicken with beans and rice and substitute soy milk or yogurt for cow’s milk and yogurt. Another thing I see is the reliance on processed plant-based foods instead of cooking or using whole foods. Processed food of all types has added sugars and sodium that most people do not need more of,” Burrell said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.