Getting (Vegan) Friendly in Portland

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A New Yorker's Vegan Guide to Portland, Oregon:
Staying cruelty-free...from the Big Apple to the City of Roses
by Mickey Z.
It's not easy for a lifetime NYC resident to admit this...but Portland (PDX) is the most vegan-friendly city I've ever experienced. PDX is so damn vegan, it doesn't even have animals in its zoo. Okay, that's an exaggeration but the supreme vegan-ness of this Oregon city isn't just in the delirious amount of vegan food options (pizza, milk shakes, deli food, Italian food, alcoholic beverages, raw food, etc.), it's in the general vibe. Almost as if you're assumed vegan until proven otherwise, you know? The tattoo parlors, the bike shops, the bars, and more--all welcome vegans with open arms. (One exception: Portland International Airport, where the usual absence of healthy, socially conscious choices reigns.)

Why vegan? Well, besides being good for your health and for the furry, winged, and scaly creatures with whom we share the planet, there's the small matter of animal agriculture being responsible for almost 1/5 of the pollution causing global warming.

Why Portland? Well, if you're planning a trip to the place they call Stumptown, check out this outsider's guide to animal-free fare and find out for yourself.

8 Ways to Enjoy Being a Vegan in Portland, Oregon

1. Vegan Mini-Mall

What do you get when you line up four cool vegan shops in a row? A vegan mini-mall, of course. First in line is the Sweet Pea Baking Company: homemade soups, sandwiches, bagels, breads, and a full range of pastries. Saturday is always doughnut day, Sunday is all-you-can-eat brunch. Next is Herbivore where clothing (and much more) is presented as "cruelty-free culture for the discriminating plant eater." Moving right along, we reach Food Fight, one of only three 100% vegan grocery stores in the U.S. Finally, there's Scapegoat Tattoo. While there may be no such thing as an eco-tattoo, you can always content yourself with a vegan tattoo at Scapegoat.

2. Portobello Vegan Trattoria

The folks at Food Fight (see above) call this the best food in Portland and I'd have to agree. Called " a celebration of the best of Northwest food, wine and beer, inspired by the great cuisines of Italy, Spain, and France," Portobello even features vegan cannoli. Yes, vegan cannoli.

3. Bye and Bye

At first glimpse, it's your standard hipster bar. Look closer and you'll learn that all the drinks are made only with vegan ingredients and the menu is 100% animal-free, too. Meatball sub, tofu dog, grilled cheese, and more...all in a cool setting surrounded by Stumptown's hippest.

4. Papa G's Vegan Organic Deli

Anyone who's grown up in New York appreciates the deli experience. Papa G, however, has taken things to uncharted territory. A mere sampling includes: Sesame Tofu Polenta, Mac and Cheeze with Papa G's Signature Tofu, Local Red Mashed Potatoes, 3 Bean Chili, Curry Dahl with Fresh Coconut Milk, Tofu Walnut Balls, Pesto Pizza Rolls, and raw choices like Zucchini Pesto Pasta, Sunflower Cheeze, and Local Peach Keifer.

5. Blossoming Lotus

With two locations in PDX, Blossoming Lotus offers vegan, organic, and local fare "prepared and served with mindfulness, gratitude and the intention to heal and nurture." Viewing a plant based diet as "the ultimate green lifestyle," they've made a powerful and valuable commitment to sustainability.

6. People's Food Co-op

A community-owned, full line natural foods store open to members and non-members alike. Besides a dazzling array of delicious items and a friendly, helpful staff, People's has also integrated green features directly into its literal structure, e.g. solar chimney, eco-roof, ground source heat pump, and the use of durable and recycled materials in building the store itself.

7. Just About Everything Else

There's vegan pizza and the vegan section at Powell's and tofu scramble at Cup & Saucer and a vegan hair salon and vegan milk shakes and vegan food carts and vegan doughnuts and even a vegan realtor or two.


8. Bike-friendly

In a nation dominated by an automobile culture, Portland is a bicyclist's dream....with, of course, an all-vegan bike shop. Scott Bricker is executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), a nonprofit membership organization working to promote bicycling and improve bicycling conditions in Oregon and SW Washington. "The city has a 170 miles of bike lanes, but it also has a number of low-traffic streets that are good for the whole family, bicycle boulevards and paths," he explains. "So we have a great infrastructure here, and it's growing."

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