Looking for a vegan-friendly vacation getaway? Consider Norfolk, Va., where vegan-friendly eateries can be found on almost every corner and throughout the surrounding Hampton Roads communities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Portsmouth.
Considered part of the South, Virginia might not be tops on the list of most vegans when it comes to places to visit. However, Norfolk has been home to the headquarters of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) since 1996, and the organization’s influence on the community is hard to deny.
Spokeswoman Lauren Stroyeck is a Virginia Beach native and said she’s seen firsthand how PETA’s presence has altered the area’s culture over the years.
“PETA’s presence has cast attention on vegan options here in the community,” she said.
The group is known for its food giveaways, which show people it’s possible to be vegan without sacrificing taste or satisfaction, she added. Years of those giveaways and other PETA-sponsored promotions haven’t just highlighted the plight of mistreated animals, they’ve also shown locals that there is a demand for vegan products and restaurant options.
“When it comes to vegan and vegetarian restaurant options, I think Norfolk is on par with New York and Los Angeles,” Stroyeck said.
What she means is that Norfolk restaurants don’t serve food that’s just good for being vegan but is actually good enough to hold its own against any other offerings on their menu. That’s reason enough to make Norfolk a vacation destination and to be sure to visit the following local favorites:
- Bardo Edibles & Elixirs (430 W. 21st St.; 757-622-7362) – This tapas-style eatery offers 17 vegan menu options, including kim chi, hot & sour cabbage and eggplant fries.
- Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant (721 W. 21st St.; 757-628-1025) – No. 6 on PETA’s national Top 10 list of vegan sushi restaurants, this sushi bar offers five vegan rolls, including the PETA Roll (seaweed salad, sweet firm inari tofu, soft savory fried tofu, steamed carrots).
- Luna Maya (2010 Colley Ave.; 757-622-6986) – Of the three vegan entrée options, the enchiladas campesinas steal the show.
- Pasha Mezze (340 W. 22nd St.; 757-627-1318) – This Turkish eatery has more vegan options than one can track but the local favorite is the maiden cake, a grilled organic red lentil cake with grilled tomatoes served over kale and garden greens.
- Rajput Indian Cuisine (742 W 21st St.; 757-625-4634) – Ten vegan menu options offer something for just about every taste, like spicy cauliflower and potatoes or mild chickpea masala. There’s even vegan naan to round out the experience.
- Yorgo's Bageldashery (2123 Colonial Ave.; 757-623-6609) – Another PETA office favorite, this bagel shop puts a whole new spin on the BLT with tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and herb vegenaise.