While the vegan food scene is thriving in major cities like London, New York, and Los Angeles, if you don’t live in a major city, chances are your vegan dining scene ranges somewhere in between a salad with some oil and vinegar and a gratuitous veggie burger.
Hopefully, your city is moving the dial toward being fully onboard with all the vegan things, even if it’s not all the way there yet. And you may be able to help make that happen a lot easier than you think.
When I first returned to my adopted hometown of Las Vegas after spending time working with an elephant rescue organization in Thailand, Vegas was somewhere closer to “here’s a salad” than the vegan scene in other major cities. Las Vegas had a few pioneering restaurants, but most of the sprawling desert hadn’t caught on to offering up creative vegan food.
In fact, when I first decided to come home, a friend and I were sitting in a vegan restaurant in Madrid, coming up with ideas for businesses to start. I was going back home with a few suitcases, two adopted Thai cats, and little else. I needed something firm, conscious, and passionate to launch.
“You should see what you can do in the vegan scene,” my friend suggested.
“Yeah,” I mused. I’d planned on going vegan when I got back to the States, but it had been years since I’d been to Vegas for anything other than a jaunt and I didn’t know what to expect.
So, we had a quick Google dive into the vegan scene in Las Vegas. We didn’t see much on offer. My friend suggested I go and seek out all the vegan spots and then write about them.
I’d been a blogging since 2009 and at one point had one of the top travel blogs in the world. Before that, I had a promising career in public relations.
Experience running a blog combined with my writing and PR skills, as well as my work in social media gave me the tools needed to dig into creating something that would help me, and others living in or visiting Las Vegas, have access to up-to-date information on vegan life in the city. Plus, I was serious about moving to a vegan life and couldn’t imagine a better gig than writing and helping influence positive social change.
So, over a bottle of Lambrusco that December night in Madrid, Vegans, Baby was born.
Launching a new business isn’t easy; and since it first went live in May 2016, it’s come a long way — from a few write-ups on restaurants to the international stage.
Vegans, Baby has morphed from simply a website to a catalyst in Las Vegas, working with people, businesses, and brands to grow the vegan scene and help put the city on the vegan map.
In the two years since Vegans, Baby came into existence, I’ve worked with restaurants across the region to help them offer more vegan options. I’ve partnered with restaurants to hold special vegan events. I even launched the city’s first-ever vegan dining month to coincide with the Veganuary campaign. I became the vegan dining columnist for one of the city’s weekly magazines, contributing the latest news on vegan life.
I’ve worked hard to foster a community, holding meet-ups in town to highlight restaurants working to make their places more vegan-friendly. And I’ve tried my best to educate vegans and those interested in the lifestyle about the options available.
At the end of 2017, I even wrote the “Las Vegas Vegan Food Guide” highlighting the best restaurants in 35 dining categories (because, yes, that’s how far the city has come in just a few years), hoping that the book can make vegan life even more accessible and show people that it isn’t difficult to be vegan in Las Vegas.
Since I’ve been back in the city, the Las Vegas vegan dining scene has grown so immensely. There are so many dedicated people in this city who want vegan life to become more accessible — from vegan festival organizers to new vegan restaurants to those who convert their restaurants into vegan ones. (We had two in one month make that big change!) It’s because of the demand – the many voices asking for ethical, sustainable, and deliciously healthy vegan food.
If your town is lacking vegan eats, use your voice. Reach out to restaurant owners and ask them for vegan options. Get groups of friends together and take them to restaurants with vegan dishes and order all of them for the table. Show other businesses that “if you build it, they will come.”
Think one voice can’t spark a wave of epic change? Think again. It’s the only thing that ever has.