Providence One of Most Vegetarian Friendly Cities
Friday, July 16, 2010
That’s a bit of good news for a food-conscious city that boasts one of the richest restaurant scenes in New England. The downside: Providence came in ninth among the top-ten smaller-size cities, behind places like Topeka, Kansas; Iowa City, Iowa; Bloomington, Indiana; and Lincoln, Nebraska. Providence beat only one city in the top ten: Boise, Idaho.
“It is somewhat surprising,” said Michael McHugh, a chef at Julian’s Providence. “When you said top ten, I was thinking of the middle.”
Among the larger cities, the nation’s capital also came in first for the most friendly city, followed by Portland, Oregon; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Atlanta, Georgia.
McHugh said the sheer number of restaurants in the Creative Capital changes how people approach what they eat, and that, in turn, leads them to explore their vegetarian options. “It causes people to be more food conscious,” McHugh said. “So there’s so much culture here I think it also causes people to be more aware of what they’re eating—more than when food is just a process of the day.”
Julian’s was one of three restaurants that PETA singled out as being especially vegetarian-friendly, distinguished by dishes such as a vegan steak and cheese wrap that is made with house seitan, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and soy cheese and served in a tortilla.
Another stand-out eatery is the restaurant in AS220, the non-profit community arts center in downtown Providence. PETA credited AS220 with such culinary innovations as a tofu pulled pork sandwich and a spicy chorizo sandwich made with homemade vegan chorizo and crumbled tofu.
She said the idea was to offer something for everyone, rather than push a certain culinary lifestyle. “The idea behind it is that we want the space to have equal opportunity,” Kaminsky said. “Anybody can come in and eat what they want.”
She attributed the vegetarian and vegan-friendly environment to the liberal politics that dominate the state. “Rhode Island is a blue state,” she said. “There’s not a direct correlation, but that might have something to do with that.”
Another factor is the vibrant community of artists and musicians in the city, according to McHugh. “That lends itself to the vegetarian culture,” he said.
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