Community: Forum: Travel

Vegan Travel Suggestions Discussion Forum

So, I understand the Midwest is not a hotbed of culture and or enlightenment. When reading through most of the reviews in the mid states, there aren't a lot of veggie places, and the ones that are seem to be breakfast joints. Any fine dining going out yonder? Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missou, Ohio, Indiana? Y'all got any Candle Cafe, Horizons, Sublimes out there? Anything creative? Read through a bunch of stuff, saw nothing special so far.

I guess that too is almost a problem w the cows. You give 5 for being there out there, but 5 for true brilliance in cultural meccas. The same place elsewhere might get 2 or 3....

Thanks for the help y'all, fave places and great places not to miss on the way through.

Responses (26)

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 05/26/08 11:40:33

    Chrissie Hynde's "VegiTerranean" in Akron, Ohio is high on my list of "must visit often" places.

    The Forum thread -

    The Reviews -

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veganmarcy at 07/18/08 15:08:52

    Minneapolis is pretty progressive/arty and has a lot of vegetarians and a good amount of vegans. Check out veg*n-friendly Evergreen Taiwanese/Chinese (veg dishes cooked in seperate woks) for cheap yummy eats and tons of faux meat options - it's not 100% veg FYI. Also Triple Rock Social Club has live bands and veg*n diner food - again not 100% but a bunch of options incl vegan. French Meadow Bakery now has a couple smaller versions of themselves at the MSP airport, which officially makes it the most vegan-friendly airport I've ever used, as things are straight-up marked vegan including desserts. If going to the original locale in town, go during dinner hours for an expanded fancier menu with more options. I went vegan while growing up in Mpls and have lived all over the world, but still go back for fave eats. While some places have closed there are still plenty of vegan options and veg community there:

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by gr8vegan at 07/21/08 13:14:05

    Chicago is the 3rd best place for vegan food in the USA. (behind LA #1 and NYC #2)

    Iowa City is the best small town.

    I challenge anyone to dispute my opinions! j/k

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Tom at 07/24/08 09:29:55

    We haven't spent much time in the midwest, but when we took Amtrak across the country and back last year we jumped on the subway during our layover in Chicago and made our way over to "The Chicago Diner" on N.Halstead St., it was excellent !

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Kiran at 03/07/09 03:23:04

    I've spent a fair ammount of time in the Midwest over the years and found the people incredibly friendly and unpretentious. I think the rep that they are not a hotbed of culture and enlightenment is pretty unfair.

    There are tons of great veggie places and options in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, the twin cities area, St Louis, plus in the dozens of college towns all over the Midwest (especially Bloomington, IN, Ann Arbor, MI, Champaign, IL). The real problem is that most of them aren't reviewed on Happy Cow. Next time I head that way, I'll be sure to write up a few.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/08/09 20:59:26

    Thanks for the defense of the Midwest, Kiran. As a Chicago-native and now a Minneapolis resident, I can say that the Midwest is a great place to be vegan. As veganmarcy noted above, Minneapolis does indeed have labeled, organic, delicious vegan food at the French Meadow Cafe at the AIRPORT, which is something I've never seen in any other city (except for JFK airport, but that doesn't count, because it was a French Meadow kiosk).

    There's definitely a pragmatism to the vegetarian movement in Minnesota in particular. We don't have many pure vegan or vegetarian restaurants, but we have no shortage of restaurants that offer plenty of innovative vegan options, most of which are labeled. (started in Minneapolis) currently has over 400 listings for the Twin Cities metro alone; its parent foundation, Compassionate Action for Animals, has been integral in making the metro area a vegan haven. For that matter, we even have a vegan boutique (Fast and Furless), which is remarkable for a city this small. I would also add that Minnesota is assuredly an "enlightened" place---it's home to three strong presidential candidates in only the last 40 years (Eugene McCarthy, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale), and is one of the most educated and healthy states in the country, with high levels of civic involvement and a tradition of liberal-progressive politics.

    Chicago is an obvious vegan-friendly place, but Madison, WI and Milwaukee also are home to large vegan and vegetarian communities which have made significant inroads to creating vegan-friendly environments.

    Iowa City and Fairfield, IA (near to the Maharishi Vedic City) both have many veg-friendly restaurants as well.

    While there isn't as much vegan-friendly stuff in some of the "red" Midwestern states (Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana), the same could be said of the non-urban parts of states likes New York, California, Oregon and Washington.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/08/09 22:05:50

    "There's definitely a pragmatism to the vegetarian movement in Minnesota."

    From reading the quoted sections of VegGuide today I conclude that there is a fair amount of "lunacy" in Minnesota & in the Twin Cities in particalar.

    ......"that offer plenty of innovative vegan options, most of which are labeled"

    Offering something "vegan" on the menu is the way that far too many meaty / milky restaurants take money from gullible vegans.

    Go & look in the kitchens / storage areas of the places listed - see the meat & dairy on the same work surfaces / in the same pots / being cut with the same knives / being stirred with the same spoons / being fried in the same oil etc., etc....

    The above post by condekedar is unbelievable.

    Posting it on - both gross & rude beyond belief!

    No "sab chalta hai" (anything goes) "aur kisi ko farak nahin padta" (and no one gives a damn)for me! ! !

    I very much appreciate the way that the HappyCow team works to filter out / delete sub-standard eating places.

    Do not be lazy / complacent when choosing your eating place - "vegan" on the menu is often laced / tainted with dairy &/or meat from the kitchen.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veganmarcy at 03/09/09 09:36:26

    "The above post by condekedar is unbelievable. Posting it on - both gross & rude beyond belief!"

    Sounds like someone who likes to start fights and flame wars. Which in itself is pretty rude.

    Anyway, places like Evergreen in Minneapolis use a seperate wok and so forth for their veg options. I have no issue with someone wanting to ask more about where they eat, although they should be aware that most products we consume have animal products involved at some stage of the production and also involve cross-contamination, even for "vegan" products. That are transported on roads & vehicles etc that use animal by-products in their construction. And not every single one of their staff, providers, contractors, investors etc. is vegan. We do the best we can in this world, and it doesn't help to alienate other vegans from doing the same.

    So often people give up on being vegan because they get frustrated finding food and product options in their area, and they also want to eat at places that the non-vegans in their life will also find something they're willing to eat there. When possible I patronize vegan-oriented businesses, but that is not always an option and it is certainly better to have vegan choices somewhere than none at all. It also makes the vegan products and lifestyle more available to the general public who would normally avoid it or at least not seek it out - for example, non-vegans eating vegan food happily at the MSP airport, at the French Meadows.

    Let's try and keep things respectful on happycow...I appreciate having a non-flame-war type space to go to. It's so rare these days.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/09/09 10:29:57

    If you re-read the original post, I asked for fine VEGAN dining places in mid-America, and specifically asked for the states.

    Only one post listed a cafe as requested, that was Johnny's suggestion (thanks for doing so) for Vegiterranean which I did visit on one of my trips. (I didn't like it, though, their "wild mushrooms was a portabello and I asked if it was Chanterelle and maitake. I could see it being better if I ordered their seitan. It was nice to sit at least at a vegan est and not stress about getting ill on the road!)

    Gr8vegan suggested a town in my list of states. I thought Red Avo was more than gross. You can see my review. That post was at least relevant in a hopeful suggestion and I was able to find purely veg; again, thanks for doing so.

    Marcy, I'm thrilled that MSP has a vegan cafe (I had a long layover there recently, wish I knew then). That doesn't help any drivers though. Nor would anyone going the general direction listed above go that far out of their way to get to it. Also, condekedar has a history on here as a proponent of listing anyone who sells a salad. Other sites list fast food joints that have a salad or a "bean taco". Nasty. That is not the scope, nor should it be the scope of what we are doing here. I'm sure he has done a lot of posting in his cities as to the meat places that sells veg food. The two mentioned have long lists. Those types of places bother a lot of us. It makes researching that much more difficult. I for one, don't want a lot of crappy places that will make me ill and taste like bacon. What's the point of that? Or if I have to eat w the inlaws somewhere and it has to be a compromised place, it had better be tried and true as far as reliability. Those places in MSP area don't sound like that to me. And I don't think the eco-footprint of food travel has that much to do with the point at hand. Similarly your point about carnivores, I don't think they check out vegan living guides to find where they might select a veg burger though they will order a steak in case of a last minute mind change to decide on mindful living. Veganism takes a lot more dedication than an accidental toe being dipped in the water of intention.

    And you likely ought to know, this is the first time I likely have ever agreed with johnny on anything. We are far from pals. Though if you knew about condekedar's history of lobbying for more and more non-veg places listed, perhaps you'd understand where his post was coming from.

    Again, the states in question were: Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missou, Ohio, Indiana? I know Chi,Ill would have its own thing rockin'. That's easy. Omaha, is not easy, thus the question.

    My few trips made me really appreciate Ritual Cafe in Des Moines. IMO, that place is the best in the country and offered us vegan food when they were shifting closed since they knew how far we'd come. Kindness and I would highly suggest it to anyone.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/09/09 10:47:19

    Oh yeah, if you think Mondale was a "Strong candidate" he only won MN and DC, the worst landslide in history, to a moron no less.

    Per condekedar's profile,
    "I have OCD for writing reviews and adding new restaurants to the site."

    Adding new cafes is nice when it is worthy to vegans. There are a lot of places in StPaul that would not otherwise be listed and most have only one review from, guess who...

    I know a lot of folks here love writing reviews, or have OCD for it like his profile states. It is good to want to share a nice dining experience. But we OWE IT TO EACH OTHER AS A COMMUNITY to do it well. Some folks don't even eat at the places they review, they just copy and paste other reviews. For one, I have eaten at all the places I have reviewed. I also let it be known there if I think the place is listed here and shouldn't be. I want you to know if you are going to get sick if you ate where I ate. I encourage anyone to contact a reviewer via pm to ask questions about their dining experience listed here. That is how important this is to people. So while condekedar wants to lists dirty bars that have fries, probably to write about it, it offers the rest of us no place to eat when passing through. That is the point of the reviews.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by condekedar at 03/09/09 12:05:42

    I'm not sure why I'm getting bashed for offering my own experience as a vegan in Minneapolis. I didn't attack anyone or anything. These boards are supposed to be civil, and they are for the most part. But Johnny and Kindlizard, you two need to calm down.

    Kindlizard: I'm not sure where you get the idea that I want to add places with salads and nothing else---I don't even eat salads.

    If you want to see what other food is available, or want to hear the opinions of other vegans/vegetarians about a place in your neighborhood that isn't listed on HC, you can check out or sites like SuperVegan and Bay Area Veg. We as a community certainly need different viewpoints, and should spread every bit of info we have.

    P.S. Columbus, OH is home to Dragonfly Neo, which is pretty posh and up there with Horizons and Candle 79.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/09/09 12:39:21

    Hey, I'm not bashing you , I was just pointing out that you may be less discriminating regarding the breadth of places. I don't really want to look up the thread, but I recall you talked about vegguide earlier and they list fast food places. Their listings are not legit at all, a kind of place that would get me sick they list as vegan friendly.

    Per here:
    Nasty gross crap, not veg-friendly, MSG laden.

    It was veg burgers that you wanted pubs entered, not salads.

    Dragonfly Neo is the point of the thread, thanks for answering the topic. I'll think about that place next time through. Thanks for the tip.

    My tone from my end wasn't hostile so sorry if you took at as such. Just matter of fact.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/09/09 19:29:06

    Hiya veganmarcy,

    I replied to a post - I did not "start" anything - so you would be wise to watch your language also.

    Yesterday I opened HappyCow & found a post by condekedar promoting - this is spam, gross & rude beyond belief.

    As a minimum somebody with good manners would ask for Ad rates & offer to pay for Ad's to promote a competing site. would list a grease covered hot-dog counter cooking "Boca trash" in the same pan as their pig sausages - .......if they had a sign saying "Veggy Dogs".



  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/09/09 21:41:44

    Seeing a "huge number of entries" which are dodgy / borderline listings is not at all interesting to me - I only want to list compassionate / good quality places - where you can be sure that the food that you order is not contaminated with mucus / flesh.

    I am happy that HappyCow focuses on quality content!

    I wish all success - I do not post to their site about the merits of HappyCow.
    See - - Dec 10 08
    ....... A large part of the reason we got to 7,000 so quickly is because of users like conde.kedar and treefrog, who've addded a huge number of entries in the past few months.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by veganmarcy at 03/10/09 08:46:03

    I'm sorry, I committed the ultimate sin. I assumed there was one tiny place, one small corner of a website somewhere where people wouldn't start yelling at and being generally nasty to each other. I give up. I give up on these forums, I just [censored]ing give up. I don't even care who wins this, I'm not out to win anything, I'm just a vegan and one human being.I just find it ironic that people arguing for compassionate living can be so quick to be at each other's throats. And no, I'm not reading replies so I don't care what people call me. I'm done.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 03/10/09 09:58:16

    Hi all,

    Let's keep the forum a friendly and open space for everyone who wishes to voice her/his thoughts, okay?

    Seems this thread has gone off topic, sorry kl.

    While I agree with johnnysensible on some points and think cross-contamination is nasty, I am not convinced that condekedar had bad intentions, nor was his post "rude beyond belief".

    However, we've never once heard from the vegguide folks, though HappyCow has always been prepared to cooperate with other green sites / projects. If you want to promote another site / similar project, then please discuss it with us - there is almost always a "win-win" solution if there is discussion.

    It's our intent to maintain a standard of veg-ness here, which I feel will always set HappyCow apart from sites like vegguide, yelp, citysearch, etc.

    I hope we can all support each other & keep these threads positive. -Eric

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/10/09 12:40:33

    Above where I said ritual cafe is best in country it should have read best in that part of the country.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/10/09 20:42:24

    I understand this topic has deviated from its original intent; however, I wanted to mention that I haven't posted to the forums in several months because of responses I see on the site – can you imagine how many people don't post due to the same reason? I haven't been bashed/attacked/argued with on them, but witnessing it just turns me off from partaking in any discussion.

    I believe Condekedar was trying to be helpful, and while Happycow does as most of you like (filters out non-veg or non-vegan places), Condekedar simply pointed out a resource that provides places with veg-friendly options – I don't think it's competition to HC as HC doesn't offer listings of these semi-veg places. Being Vegan in the Midwest can prove to be difficult as choices are few and far between.

    To the person with the first post, please feel free to check out my Midwest reviews for Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc. And let me know if you have any questions…I will definitely tell you what's worth going to or not to.

    Obviously in Chicago I would say: Chicago Diner,Soul Vegetarian East, Amitabul, Bleeding Heart Bakery, and Lakeside Cafe.
    Chicago Suburb, Evanstan: Blind Faith Cafe
    For Milwaukee, WI: Riverwest Co-op!!!
    St. Louis, MO: OR Juice and Smoothies, Gokul, Everlasting Life.
    Columbia, MO: Main Squeeze.
    Kansas City, MO: The Nutty Girl.
    Cleveland,OH: Didn't find anything special...
    Bloomington, IL: Ehhh nothing special either.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/11/09 23:00:40

    This Forum is full of "edge-walkers"!

    No-one has the time - or the desire - to micro-moderate it. controversial threads such as this one are going to get "hot" sometimes.

    The Forum is a lot better than it was a few months back when there was "0" moderation.

    It would have been nice if Kedar had simply "fessed up" - instead of squealing. Posting such spammy stuff & not expecting to receive comments / sharp replies is pretty naive.

    HappyCow lists many veg-friendly places - I am happy that "pseudo-" ones which get seriously bad reviews due to meat contamination are quickly deleted.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/11/09 23:47:08

    03/11/2009 was a pretty good day on HappyCow - 3 of my favorite veggy places got listed in Macau & China.

    Plus the "Fast & Furless" store in Minneapolis appeared for the first time -

    Venues added in the last 7 days: 55
    Venues updated in the last 7 days: 157

    Several veg-friendly places got listed on the site also - perhaps they will get so many clients via HappyCow (& other sites) that they will quickly decide to become "cooked bum free zones" / serve only plant dishes!

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/12/09 09:34:29

    OK here is a question. While I understand that restaurants that have an abundance of meat or possible meat contamination are "quickly deleted" how are others going to know this? By keeping them on the site with a disclaimer coupled with negative user reviews, one would think this would be *more* beneficial. For instance, say I'm walking down the street and happen to come across a place that boasts veggie friendly options. Well I'm going to try to find out what it's all about…and if it's not on Happycow, I'm not going to know what the pluses and negatives are about the place. Another argument to that, and while I am clearly a strict Vegan, we all don't share the same diets. Some people are trying to become Vegetarian or Vegan, so they may go to one of the places that a typical Vegan wouldn't. I think it's imperative to get a heads up on any place serving Vegan/Vegetarian options – I would think it would keep me from making a mistake and eating at the wrong place. Just a thought. [And by the way, I only use Happycow; I chose one and stuck with it, so I rely on the reviews of fellow HC members.]

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by kindlizard at 03/12/09 14:11:03

    I think not being on happycow when you got home to inquire would be more of a statement. I think by now all the overtly veg places are listed here.

    I am more concerned, Synth, with being really pressed for time, with no time to inquire and research. I find myself many times pressing happycow into action where command decisions are made. If I see a place on it, I am likely to give it a shot. I saw a place listed in the middle of the country and chose to eat there late night (MJ's in Davenport at 11:30) rather than earlier at my trip at 8:30 at a different, possibly more veg-friendly place earlier on my route. At the time I would call family to ask them, since I didn't print out the entire country for happycow. There were no reviews for MJ's, mine is still the only one for them. Since I had waited so long I was obligated to eat what I ordered, though I tried hard to eat only enough to not be so hungry the next morning. It didn't matter. It went right through me. (not to bag on MJs too much, they were very lovely people despite being food poisoned by them in a bad part of town...)

    Point being, there is no real reason that MJs or places like it, and there are a ton of them, deserve listings here. It should not matter if a place has tofu. All Chinese places have some tofu. An ingredient has very little to do with being veg-friendly. I was laid out from this and it really wrenched my travels.

    What you are debating is standards. You want more mainstream cafes to be shared with our home for vegan food. But while these places may offer something, it is more like they offer something to a forgotten or unexpected dinner guest. They have a can of soup in the cupboard and will dust it off for you. No one should go out intentionally and say they guess they'll get the burrito, or the salad or the vegburger, because they found a place in happycow that has an option so when they go out with friends who eat meat that's what they get stuck with. I think this site has more intention than that. It is the intention to live compassionately and the intention that to be listed here the cafe must make an overt offering, that is make it part of the defining characteristic of the cafe's intention.

    I know I don't want to get sick ever again the way I was after Davenport. I would not want you, Synth, to get sick like that either, especially not because I like writing reviews. Noe would I want you to waste your time or money at place that just dusts off an old can. Btw, this is why I think actually eating at cafes you review is SO important. We have to be able to ask each other questions about the places we review. By now there a few of us who do take it seriously and we could be invaluable resources for one another.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/12/09 19:52:22

    Good point synthvegan - I had suggested the same a while back - let us see what Eric now replies about the feasibility of this - there could perhaps be a "not recomended list" at the bottom of each city page perhaps - it is a tricky issue though.

    One potential problem of having a category such as this is the old subject of "anonymity" - some places do get stalked - it has only happened occasionally in the past 2 years & it is usually pretty obvious / easy to see.

    Another potential problem is that owners of "not recomended list" joints could become really, really unhappy!

    kl's point about genuine Reviews is also very important - I have been / am still often accused of this.

    Yesterday 3 of my favorite places got listed & so far I have reviewed 2 of them - as I was doing this I took a few minutes & reviewed my past Reviews - my big challenge now is that many of my Reviews are now over 18 months old & need updating.

    I choose to send in Reviews / Commentaries when: -

    1. I have visited & eaten in the places myself - I am an "obsessive / compulsive veggy restaurant visitor" - my waist is not as trim as it could be.

    2. Very close friends send me Reviews because they cannot be bothered to go through the HC registration process (I have 8 of these).

    3. When I come across a great Press Article about a place which has "0" or very few recent Reviews I sometimes select & post a few of the comments - but I make it very clear that the comments are not mine (I have around 10 of these).

    I am hoping that Eric manages to come up with software which allows Reviews to appear from Facebook users - as there is only a few % of anonymous users on Facebook.

    veganmarcy - if you take a peek at this thread then I hope that you will soon be inspired to post again - our buddy Kedar riled me & I spoke out - that is what I am like - I was effectively banned from here for a couple of months last year because I would not agree to some of Eric's terms - I am pretty thick skinned / used to receiving flak here - John

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by JohnnySensible at 03/12/09 20:03:39

    I just noticed this -

    Members With Most Reviews

    4. JohnnySensible (128)
    5. SynthVegan (120)
    6. condekedar (101)
    7. kindlizard (93)

    So we must all agree on a pretty high % of issues! Eric pointed out a little higher up this thread - "there is almost always a "win-win" solution if there is discussion".

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by webmaster at 03/12/09 20:57:24

    Hi guys,

    The idea of keeping a listing for places that "used to be listed" on HappyCow is not a bad one. I have a number of tasks on my to-do lists and will consider adding this one. Possibilities will be:
    - A business has closed
    - A business is not veg-friendly enough to remain listed
    - something else?
    I can see adding a link to these and having a new page display them, though having them show on the main pages seem like clutter that may confuse some users.
    We do our best to keep the info accurate here. If we don't list a veg-friendly place, it's likely because it doesn't meet our guidelines:
    Also, the actual number of places removed from the site because their menu changed and they become too un-veg-friendly is really, really small,... only a handful per year maybe. If this is the only reason to add this new code it's hardly worth the time.
    I had hoped that the city note pages would provide a space for discussing alt-veg options for places which did not meet our criteria, though they have only seldom been used for that.
    We're definitely open to ideas, please start a thread in the HappyCow Community Forum if you have some ideas.
    Again, sorry KL for taking this thread off-topic.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by SynthVegan at 03/13/09 11:01:32

    I've created a new topic, please follow the link below:

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