When we decided to take over Alice & Friends 7 years ago, there were only a handful of Chicago restaurants that had a dedicated vegan menu. Since then, we have witnessed tremendous growth of local vegan restaurants and bakeries.
And although we don’t have an exact count of Vegan businesses, Happy Cow lists an amazing 450 vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants in the Chicago area!
We couldn’t be more proud to see how far we have come as a community. We’re proof that supporting each other and having more vegan options is the perfect recipe for success.
The Chicago Vegan Food Community in the Past Year
This year, Chicago ranked #14 for Most Vegetarian & Vegan-Friendly Cities in America by Wallethub. More vegan food businesses are opening this year and gifting us with creations that vegans could only dream of in the 90’s.
These are a few of our (latest) favorites:
Vaca’s Creamery, an oat milk soft-serve shop, opened a second location in Chicago within the last two years! Our go-to order is the classic vanilla flavor in a waffle cone because it has just the right amount of sweetness. Friends have also recommended their ice cream pints that are often offered in flavors you won’t find at grocery stores. Some of these are peach matcha, sweet corn, and Thai tea.
Fancy Plants Cafe, a cafe that specializes in sandwiches, soups, and warm drinks, is one of a kind “grab and go” neighborhood favorite. We’re always pleased with the soup of the day but occasionally take home the smoked lentil lasagna. Their lavender vanilla latte and muffin are dreamy and are a must when we’re on the go.
Lastly, XMarket Vegan Food Hall that recently opened in Uptown is a vegan’s dream for groceries, quick bites, and events. Events and gatherings are important in building a strong community and we’re happy to see this is a comfortable space to continue to grow.
Social Media Makes Veganism “Cool”
Social Media has also been a great tool to find people in our area that share our passion for veganism. Instagram and other food apps can be credited with making plant-based foods popular. Images and reels improve the perception that vegan diets can be healthy. Furthermore, they have the power to make rainbow vegetables and vegan desserts look irresistible.
Another experience that is relatively new, is when food influencers take us to “visit” Chicago restaurants. From walking into the door to viewing the menu and trying new foods, this immersive experience has helped many restaurants attract customers from other states and even from across the globe.
Lastly, Chicago businesses and organizations have also turned to social media to promote community events. Some of these include The Veggie Fest, Vegan Markets, and even meet and greets with celebrities.
We Made the Right Choice To Support Veganism
We’re grateful to be part of a community that is constantly innovating vegan food and is united by social responsibility. There’s a great sense of satisfaction in doing the best that we can for the earth and all living beings.
Witnessing that the vegan community continues to grow, we feel a certain vindication that we made the right decision to take over Alice and Friends 7 years ago. We’re happy to take part in all these changes all while supporting healthy eating, the environment, and animal rights.
And even non-vegans have seen the benefits to support this way of life. We often meet guests or receive reviews from loyal customers that are not vegan. Many visit with friends, have dietary restrictions, or simply enjoy the food. Whichever their personal reasons, we are always excited to hear they enjoyed their experience. Especially, when they say just how comfortable and welcomed they felt.
Yes, the Chicago Vegan Community is inclusive and super-friendly to everyone!