Just out—2017’s Best U.S. Cities for Vegans and Vegetarians: The recent release of the report by WalletHub, a Washington, DC-based online company that offers credit reports, credit scores and credit and financial counseling services, prompted us to review the study and its key components as a possible planning tool for operators, travel suppliers and DMOs that cater to the overseas market from India, which has the largest population of vegetarians in the world. At the top of the list of 50 best cities, based on a ranking that includes a number of measures, are: New York; Portland, Oregon; Orlando, Florida; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.
How sizable is the vegetarian market from India? While some 70 percent of India’s population of nearly 1.324 billion people are not vegetarian, about 29 percent of the population over the age of 15 are vegearian.
This translates into a vegetarian population (over the age of 15) of some 273 million people, which means that India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world’s nations combined. China, with an estimated 30 million vegetarians, is a distant second. Below is a map that shows the breakdown of vegetarian and non-vegetarian population in the country’s 29 states.
To determine the best and cheapest places for following a plant-based diet, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest cities across 15 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness. The data set ranges from the share of restaurants serving meatless options to the cost of groceries for vegetarians to salad shops per capita. Some findings:—New York has the highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options, 56.25 percent, which is 2.6 times higher than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the lowest at 21.72 percent.
—Orlando, Florida, has the highest share of restaurants serving vegan options, 31.14 percent, which is 8.8 times higher than in Chicago, the city with the lowest at 3.52 percent.
—San Francisco has the most community-supported agriculture programs (per square root of population), 0.0139, which is 17.4 times more than in San Antonio, the city with the fewest at 0.0008.
—New York has the most salad shops (per square root of population), 0.2666, which is 33.7 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0079.
—And now, the list:
A Note on Methodology: In order to determine the best cities for vegans and vegetarians in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Diversity, Accessibility & Quality and 3) Vegetarian Lifestyle.
Researchers evaluated those dimensions using 15 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for vegans and vegetarians. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, WalletHub determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample. In constructing our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area.