A Vegetarian Foodie’s Guide to the USA (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)

In this post, I write about the various types of Vegetarian food in USA. USA is relatively better compared to other parts of the world when it comes to vegetarian food and I loved my time as a vegetarian foodie here.

Written by: Soumya Nambiar

Last Updated on:

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If you are a vegetarian and you like to travel like me, then you know how difficult it can be sometimes. Also, I am not the kind of person who will go to another country and then eat only Indian food. If I wanted to eat Indian food, then I would prefer to have it in India. I would love to try new cuisines, new food palates and I believe that it is an integral part of travelling experience.

But being vegetarians, it is much more difficult for us. There are days when you have to eat only potato wedges for dinner and there are other days when you have to convince people that seafood is not vegetarian. There are days when people at McDonald’s or Burger king offer to remove the patty and give you the bread with some vegetables thrown in. And you would gladly have it since you have no other choice. There are days when you only have one vegetarian option to choose from.

I am a vegetarian by choice and have been one for the past 11 years. I am not a vegan and I eat dairy products. Additionally, I eat egg which makes my life much easier compared to most other vegetarians.

It has been definitely getting better over the years and people all over the world are realizing that they have to feed us, vegetarians, too.

So how did I survive with finding vegetarian food in the USA? Quite well actually. There are many options available for Vegetarians and you just need to be open to try new cuisines. I would like to take you on a culinary experience around the USA through a Vegetarian’s eyes. I know I did not try as much as I wanted to since I had so less time there. Hopefully, it will be helpful for many others like me.

La Petite Westmont
La Petite Westmont

Vegetarian Food in Chicago:

On my first day there, I was randomly walking around the Westmont railway station since I had time to kill before the next train arrived. That is when I found this cute little Sweet and La Petite Sweet and the cupcake I had there was lip-smacking. Yes, I have a sweet tooth and hence I loved this one.

While I was in Chicago, a food festival called Taste of Chicago was going on and I had the opportunity to try some amazing food there. Also, don’t forget to have Garrett’s Popcorn and Chicago fudge when you are in Chicago.

The one thing I missed having in Chicago was the Deep Dish Pizza. We had plans of going but I was so tired from the jet lag that I missed this one.

Vegetarian Food in New York:

Even though I spent only 3 days this time in New York, it is a haven for vegetarian foodies like me. First of all, there are so many options to choose from. So many food trucks and you are spoilt with choices.

I first had from Chipotle here and most of my Indian friends in the USA will swear by their burritos and tacos. I distinctly remember a friendly fight between my friends over a Chipotle.

I have this habit of visiting Hard rock café at least once in a country when I travel. I love their vegetarian burgers and the ambience in Times Square with their décor and signed memorabilia was just awesome.

Hard Rock Cafe, New York
Hard Rock Cafe, New York
Hard Rock Cafe, New York
Hard Rock Cafe, New York

I did not have the Shake shack Shroom burger but I loved the frozen custard at Shake Shack. Also, I did not miss an opportunity to have a Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream whenever I could. They are just so creamy. Also, do not forget to have a cheesecake when you are here. I got my daily dose of coffee at Starbucks which can be found all over the city. I know there are better options but I just wanted to stick to the safer option.

The only thing I did not like was a Pretzel. It was so salty and dry. Maybe I tried the wrong one but I definitely did not like it. Also, remember that the food inside the Met museum is so expensive. I learnt this the hard way.

Vegetarian Food in Florida:

This is where I was pampered one whole day with my friend’s awesome home-cooked food. It was delicious and I wish she makes it her lifelong goal to feed people. In a day she fed me so many things. I would just let the pictures speak for itself.

Friend's Cooking
Friend’s Cooking
Friend's Cooking
Friend’s Cooking
Friend's Cooking
Friend’s Cooking

Florida, as you know, is the place filled with theme parks. So we spent most of our time here inside them. The one which definitely made an impression was ‘Finnegan’s Bar & Grill’ inside Universal studios.

On our last day in Orlando, we were quite late and we reached Disney Downtown around 11 PM. We walked around the whole place looking for vegetarian food and the only place open at that time serving vegetarian food was ‘Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant’. They had live music playing and that was definitely fun. They also had the best Bailey’s ice cream shake I have ever had.

Vegetarian Food in Washington, Corning and Niagara Falls:

I did not have anything that was so memorable here just because we did not have much time here. Also, my friend is an avid Chipotle fan and we had that many times while we were there with her.

One thing I do remember was the dinner we had at the Radisson hotel in Corning. When you combine good food with an awesome company, it definitely is unforgettable.

Chipotle, Washington
Chipotle, Washington

Vegetarian Food on California Zephyr:

I did spend 2 days on this train. Food is nothing exceptional. But still, you can survive on this train. The food from the dining car is way better but the café is definitely cheaper.

Vegetarian Food in San Francisco:

For me, the last place was definitely the best. Since I was staying in an AirBnb in a good locality, I had many choices. It was such a delight. Every day I tried a different cuisine and I fell in love with it. San Francisco is definitely a foodie’s heaven. I tried French crepes, Italian lasagna, Lebanese platter and I loved all of them. I also had breakfast at Mission Beach café and it was the best breakfast I had in the USA. I still remember the kind waitress at this café.

French Crepes, SFO
French Crepes, SFO
Vegetarian Food in USA
Mission Beach Cafe, SFO

If you are in San Francisco, definitely make a visit to Ghirardelli square to have their awesome ice cream sundaes. It is legendary.

Ghirardelli Ice Cream, SFO
Ghirardelli Ice Cream, SFO

The best thing I had in San Francisco however was Thai food. I loved it even though I do not like to eat Thai food here in India. Only thing you have to be careful is that they do not fry your food in fish oil in case you are a vegetarian.

Overall it was a good experience for me and I got to taste so many cuisines, some of them which I was trying out for the first time. Also remember to use Yelp to find the best restaurants nearby. Zomato was not much of a help there.

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A Vegetarian Foodie’s Guide to the USA
A Vegetarian Foodie’s Guide to the USA

Read other posts from my Vegetarian series:

Find my recommendations for guide books on USA.

Guidebooks for USA

Traveling to USA and need more guidance on which books to read? These are our recommendations for you to read before you go.

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About Soumya Nambiar

Soumya Nambiar here, affectionately known by many nicknames. Avid Traveler, Blogger, Vegetarian Foodie, Entrepreneur from Bangalore, India who grew up in Tanzania, Africa.

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13 thoughts on “A Vegetarian Foodie’s Guide to the USA (What to eat, Vegan Tips, Survival Guide)”

  1. The pics are luring me , I know how hard it is to be Vegetarian while traveling . Lat week In Pondicherry we went to restaurant with a non vegetarian friend and shocked to find only vegetarian thing the restaurant offered was fried rice ….

    Reply
  2. There is a good choice of frozen vegetarian, vegan ready-to-eat boxed food available with most of the big retailers across the US. Some of the brands like 'Amy's kitchen' are doing well riding on fact that they make a variety of vegetarian fare available to the shopper. These boxes are priced reasonably (in the range of 4$ to 10$) and are single serve packs. As long as you have access to a refrigerator and a microwave this is a great option as well as a lot of flexibility to the veg traveller. Thanks for sharing another well written article….keep blogging 🙂

    Reply
  3. I can relate to this post so well as my husband is a vegetarian and we live in US. So Chipotle is always a safe bet for us. Similar is Subway, best for vegetarians. But there are other cuisines like Mediterranean, Thai n Italian( try Olive Garden) where you will get some good veg options.

    Reply

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