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WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – The Bronx Vegan Opportunity

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This piece is a reprint of an article written by The Bronx Traveler, Elisa Valentino, a twice weekly blog featured in HeartOfTheBronx.com.  Heart of The Bronx’s mission is to encourage economic growth and to enhance the quality of life in The Bronx County through a strengthened economic impact of tourism throughout the borough.

by Elisa Valentino

May 10, 2019

The Bronx Vegan Opportunity

Have you noticed that things are changing all around these days, particularly when it comes to people’s sense of empathy and caring? Most of us are aware of the increasing concern for Mother Earth and the well-being of our fellow living creatures. Laws are changing all around the country to protect our animal friends, and there are even some pretty stiff penalties for those individuals that harm and abuse them. More and more manufacturers are jumping on board with eliminating any business procedures or ingredients that include animal suffering of any kind.

This evolution towards living a more cruelty-free and kind existence in kindness seems to be especially prevalent among the younger generation, who appear to be a bit more enlightened about how all who share this planet, are connected. Growing numbers of teens, twenty-somethings and even thirty-somethings have put their money where their beliefs are and are increasingly embracing a vegan lifestyle, and what this means for savvy business owners and entrepreneurs is a whole new market segment with which to capitalize and serve.

As a vegan myself, I am amazed at the changes that are happening on a daily basis. More and more vegan options at restaurants, fast food chains offering vegan-targeted meals, supermarket shelves and freezers having readily available food items for these plant-based shoppers as well as exclusively vegan restaurants, bakeries and travel destinations!

All around the globe, like never before, can a vegan be assured that there are places to eat and socialize where they can enjoy more than a few raw vegetables being classified as a vegan meal. It’s truly amazing and a real game changer.

Personally speaking, as a travel blogger and vegan, one of the highlights of my excursions near and far, is researching and experiencing vegan eateries wherever I go. In fact, some cities around the country are quickly gaining a reputation for their enormity of vegan restaurants and food options!

With all this said, I must add, that when it comes to The Bronx, the vegan experience is a tremendous opportunity for visionaries in the food services industries. Right now, across New York City and Long Island, there are limited choices for us vegans. Manhattan leads the way with the number of options from which to choose, with Brooklyn running a close second with the borough’s vegan pop up markets and eateries. 

Here in the Bronx, the opportunities are limitless! To date, there are only a handful of entrepreneurs, mostly women ironically, who see the void in this growing demographic. (I refer you to earlier published stories about two of these Bronx businesses, Bronx Founder of The Uptown Vegan and Freshly Made by Two Female Entrepreneurs. And, of course, while other establishments are beginning to add a vegan dish here or there, this market is prime for more dedicated vegan food destinations! Allow me to give you 5 reasons why I am so passionate about the development of more!

1. College Kids
The Bronx has more institutions of higher learning than any other borough, with a captive and willing population of young people, many of which are vegans or simply enjoy a healthy lifestyle, surely appreciating plant-based food joints.

2. Diverse Cuisines
Populated with such a diverse community of ethnicities, the sky”s the limit when it comes to the plethora of vegan cuisines that are possible for Bronx residents. Simply google any dish you like and you will find there are vegan versions. Imagine the possibilities within our borough!

3. Vegans will Travel for Food
There is an accepted aspect of being a vegan that traveling for food is part of the lifestyle. As a result of the shortage of vegan restaurants – and good ones at that – vegans are accustomed to going well out of their way to find a satiating meal. Me and my Travelin’ Cousins blog partner, Tanya, have been known to drive miles and miles out of our way to enjoy a good vegan meal.
So, for future Bronx vegan restaurants, it is not simply the local community that would be potential patrons; it’s a way to get you on the national and world map as well tapping into the vegan followers on social media.

4. New and Fresh Borough Reputation
Unfortunately, most of us Bronx lovers know that there is a pretty dark view of our borough around the country and the world. With so much history, culture, diversity, art and educational initiatives, it is that much more imperative to obliterate that false reputation. I believe that appealing to this new demographic of foodies, The Bronx can add an interesting spark of interest and curiosity, namely, for tourists, helping word to spread fast how truly amazing The Bronx is, which, residents already know.

5. More jobs
The food industry is exciting and fresh. Look at all the attention cooking and eating gets on a daily basis since the arrival of the Food Network several decades ago. More exciting eateries can lead to more job opportunities for young people and that’s always a good thing!

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Elisa is co-founder of Travelin’ Cousins travel blog, A native New Yorker, Fordham graduate, and world traveler, she is passionate about The Bronx as a travel destination for locals and tourists.

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To submit writing for publication on WEEKDAY MAGAZINE, click here.  Fiction, non-fiction, commentary, news, news analysis, and poetry are welcome.  Bronx slant always preferred.

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