Big data may seem like it's only useful to big corporations, but today it's going to help you find a delicious vegetarian meal. Which U.S. cities are best for vegetarians? It's pretty obvious to any meat-avoider that big cities are better when it comes to not eating animals, but which are the best? And outside of the cities, can you still enjoy a good veggie or vegan dinner?
To find out, Datafiniti took a look at its web-sourced data sets to find the best spots in the U.S. for vegetarians.
You won't be surprised to learn that the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly cities are places like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. New York tops the list of the number of restaurants in a metropolitan areas offering vegetarian options, with 1,026 restaurants, with Los Angeles a close second. In fact, the availability of vegetarian options correlates fairly well to the population of the city. In the middle of the top 50 you'll find Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Orlando. Down at the bottom of the list are meat-loving cities, where cow-hugging hippies aren't welcome: Madison, Wisconsin, and Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina, all of which have trouble mustering more than 30 veggie-friendly eateries.
In terms of the population correlation, the big outlier is Dallas. It ranks fourth in population size, but is at number 14 on the veggie list, with only 142 restaurants. No surprise that Texans love meat—apart from Austin, that is, which is 10th on the list with 190 restaurants. In the other direction, San Francisco (13th by population) ranks third on the list.
More interesting is the list that ranks cities by the number of vegetarian restaurants per 100,000 residents. Of the 50 largest cities, Portland wins by a good margin, with 9.4 restaurants per 100,000 people. Then come San Francisco, New York, L.A., and Seattle. The least vegetarian-friendly city? Riverside, California, at just 0.6 restaurants per 100,000 population.
Extending this same measure—the number of vegetarian restaurants per 100,000 residents—to cities of any size, and the most veggie-friendly city in the land is Santa Fe, New Mexico, with 29.6 restaurants per 100,000. In this list, Los Angeles—which usually has a health-conscious reputation—drags its heels to finish at number 25 in the chart.
This data-dip ends with a nice palette cleanser: What kind of cuisine is most often served in the country's vegetarian restaurants? At number one is "American," which in this case means soups, salads, and sandwiches. Next is Italian, followed by Asian, Mediterranean, and finally Indian. Despite the rather confusing catch-all terms, these are all cuisines that are largely vegetarian in their own lands or are easily adapted.
So, if you're serious about not eating meat and eat out in restaurants a lot, then you should probably head to somewhere like New York or Santa Fe. And if you find yourself marooned in Riverside, California, remember that, in case of emergency, a pizza will never let you down.