Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah—land of many mountains and . . . oh wait . . . did you think I was going to say Mormons? Well, we are 80% NON-Mormon, including this writer. So let’s start again. SLC, land of many vegans!
SLC’s vegan dining options are ever-expanding. We have not one, but two Vietnamese vegan restaurants—All Chay and Vegan Bowl. Of the 16 vegan restaurants in SLC, trending are The Big O Vegan Doughnuts, the cultishly popular Buds sandwich shop with sister establishments Boltcutter (street tacos) and Monkeywrench (handcrafted vegan ice cream), Seasons Plant-Based Bistro, and Zest Kitchen and Bar. SLC has three vegan bakeries, including Cakewalk Vegan Baking Company’s famous Dillos. Our social media vegan groups inspired local Jesse Clark to share his dining guide with updates on vegan restaurants, places with separate vegan menus (including an array of pub food at The Ice Haüs), and those with vegan options, encompassing over 50 establishments. SLC also has vegan food truck events.
For vegans seeking community, SLC’s annual VegFest, sponsored by the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, is spearheaded by activists Jeremy Beckham and Amy Meyer. Local vegans enjoy regular hikes, picnics and campouts organized by Debbie Larsen. A monthly Vegan Drinks group rotates rendezvous at restaurants and pubs. Salt Lake Thrive supports the PlantPure Nation grassroots movement promoting plant-based lifestyles. Plant-Based Utah’s Annual Nutrition Symposium happens every October, as does South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society’s Annual Vegan Halloween Potluck and Party. Vegan Thanksgiving is sponsored yearly by Ching Farm Sanctuary and Vertical Diner. You can catch animal rights film screenings periodically at The City Library.
SLC’s vegan scene is more diverse than one might imagine. Just ask Victor Vegano, voted Peta’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door in 2015, who veganized menu items and created an entire vegan buffet of home-style Mexican cuisine featured every Friday night at Mi Ranchito Grill in SLC. Not only was he Peta’s Sexiest Vegan, Victor was also voted Mr. Pride 2017 in the Utah Pride Festival. On the importance of intersectionality and veganism, Victor says “As a queer Latinx man I have learned through personal experiences that animals love me unconditionally, and this is why I chose to go vegan. I have lost most of my past family and friends when I came out as a gay man, and as an immigrant I have also witnessed much racism. The way we treat animals speaks volumes of ourselves.”
I believe civic-minded people are more likely to stay vegan for life. For vegans who volunteer, just outside Salt Lake City is Ching Farm Sanctuary. A second farm sanctuary in nearby Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, is Sage Mountain. In the heart of SLC, the Utah Animal Rights Coalition has numerous opportunities, including protests and a program called “Vegan Food for Good” where volunteers cook, serve, and clean up a meal at the city’s homeless Youth Resource Center. Activists interested in “Cube of Truth” demonstrations can connect with SLC’s Anonymous for the Voiceless. Venturing to red rock country in Kanab, Utah allows you to visit Angel Canyon, home of Best Friends Animal Society, where volunteers enjoy a $5 (vegetarian) lunch buffet with nearly all vegan options, along with a surprising number of vegan restaurant offerings in this little Western movie-set town less than five hours’ drive from SLC.
This is but a taste of SLC’s varied and welcoming vegan scene. While veganism sweeps the globe, SLC thrives as more and more hipsters, the health-conscious, activists, environmentalists, and ordinary everybodies choose compassion as our way of life.
Elisa Stone is:
• An MSVA Master Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator
• Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition with Cornell University
• A tenured college professor
• A non-judgmental vegan activist who grew up in rural America and has been vegan 16 years, vegetarian 10 years prior.
Web site: www.yourvegancoachlovesyou.com