Best States for Vegans

Best States for Vegans

While veganism and a plant-based diet have been exploding in popularity over the last years, the life of a vegan person in the United States living in one state vs another can be very different. In this article I’m going to share with you the best states for vegans.

As a vegan myself, I love visiting vegan-friendly destinations. And if I could live in one of the most vegan-friendly cities, that would be even better.

I was curious which US states are most vegan-friendly, with the easiest access to vegan food, so I did some research I’m about to share with you below.

Top 10 Best States for Vegans

To identify the best vegan-friendly states, I used the data from HappyCow on the number of vegan restaurants in each state. I then divided the number of vegan dining options by the population of each state and multiplied it by 100,000 to get the rate of places offering exclusively vegan eats per 100,000 people.

I decided to use only one metric because it tells us a lot about how vegan-friendly a given place is. If you have easy access to vegan options through exclusively vegan restaurants (and not vegetarian restaurants or restaurants serving vegetarian options in addition to non-plant-based food), then most likely the place hosts a substantial vegan population.

And if it’s profitable to run a vegan restaurant in a given place, then it means there’s consistent demand for vegan meals. Not even the greatest vegan restaurant would survive in a place without vegans.

Is this a perfect methodology? No, it isn’t. Non-vegans also visit these restaurants and there are other aspects of vegan living than just restaurants. But there’s no easy way to calculate the percentage of vegan population per each state so we can rely only on more accessible data like the number of restaurants.

Here are the best vegan-friendly states ranked by the ratio of vegan places per 100,000 people.

1. District of Columbia

Number of vegan restaurants: 35

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 5.223

The high rate of vegan restaurants per 100,000 people may be a little misleading in the case of the District of Columbia because many people commute to Washington from Virginia or Maryland. Still, if you wanted to live in a city with a high density of vegan options per 100,000 people, moving to Washington, D.C. would make sense.

2. Hawaii

Number of vegan restaurants: 31

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 2.15

With its perfect year round climate, outdoor attractions, and deep connection with nature, it kind of makes sense that Hawaii is the most vegan-friendly state if we exclude the District of Columbia. Honolulu, has most of the vegan restaurants in the state. With its population of 345,000 people and 18 places with exclusively vegan options, it would make it one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in the country.

3. Oregon

Number of vegan restaurants: 71

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.672

Continuing on the theme of living close to nature, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Oregon are lush temperate rainforests. Like Hawaii, it makes sense to me that a place known for natural beauty would also have a substantial vegan population. Portland wins when it comes to availability of vegan food: it has 53 vegan places for a population of 640,000 people.

Best Vegan-Friendly States: Oregon

4. Rhode Island

Number of vegan restaurants: 17

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.552

Considering that only a little over a million people live in the entire state, Rhode Island has a surprising number of vegan restaurants. Almost half of them (7) are located in Providence, the capital of the state. For the 190,000 people who call the city home, they have a varied choice of vegan food considering the city’s relatively small size.

5. California

Number of vegan restaurants: 487

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.241

California has the highest number of vegan restaurants out of all states. The access is quite evenly distributed over many cities, without the most populated cities hosting almost all of the restaurants. Los Angeles accounts for 78 restaurants, San Diego for 32, and San Francisco for 24. The rest (353) is spread over smaller cities.

Top Vegan States: California

6. Nevada

Number of vegan restaurants: 38

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.209

Nevada has more restaurants in total than Hawaii but in reality almost all of them, 32, are located in Las Vegas (and 4 are in Henderson which is a suburb city of Las Vegas). So in the case of this state, it would be more accurate to say that it has one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the United States, rather than being a vegan-friendly state overall.

Like I said in the introduction, the methodology isn’t perfect. But then again, most people who live in Nevada choose to live close to Las Vegas.

7. New York

Number of vegan restaurants: 236

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.19

It’s not surprising that New York had to appear on this list. While it has much fewer cities than its rival on the west coast, it’s still home to many plant-based restaurants. Most vegan restaurants in New York are located in the New York City metropolitan area. 103 are in New York City and 53 in Brooklyn.

8. Vermont

Number of vegan restaurants: 7

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 1.084

The second least populated state in the US is surprisingly vegan-friendly. The major cities have at least one restaurant offering exclusively vegan food. The biggest city, Burlington, has two. Of course, with just one or two vegan places there isn’t much variety to be had. But if you consider that Burlington has only 45,000 residents and two vegan places, there has to be a substantial percentage of residents preferring plant-based options.

9. New Jersey

Number of vegan restaurants: 90

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 0.971

The restaurants in New Jersey are spread over dozens of cities in the state. Jersey City has the most with 8, followed by Newark with 5. While the individual cities can’t be called the most vegan-friendly cities in the country, the state as a whole seems to offer a convenient lifestyle for vegans.

Top States for Vegans: New Jersey

10. Florida

Number of vegan restaurants: 178

Vegan restaurants per 100,000 people: 0.817

With perfect weather year round and ocean living vibes, I’d imagine Florida to rank somewhere close to top 5 than at the tenth spot. Yet, the data doesn’t lie. One advantage of Florida, though, is that vegan restaurants are located in many different cities and not just concentrated in one or two. Miami has 27, Tampa 11, and Fort Lauderdale 5. The rest are spread over smaller cities (including many suburb cities of Miami, though).

All States Ranked by How Vegan-Friendly They Are

Here’s a table with all 50 US states plus District of Columbia, comparing how vegan-friendly they are. I covered the first top ten vegan states in more detail above.

StateNumber of vegan restaurantsVegan restaurants per 100,000 people
District of Columbia355.223
Rhode Island171.552
New York2361.19
New Jersey900.971
North Carolina470.445
New Hampshire60.432
West Virginia70.393
New Mexico60.284
South Carolina110.212
South Dakota00
North Dakota00

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