Broadway World

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In more ways than just food, Chicago has a thriving and growing vegan community. Plant-based Expert and Awesome Vegans Podcast host, Elysabeth Alfano highlights the various areas in which Chicago is leading the way in plant-based living. 

According to Alfano, "It is way past being a fad, trend or some unattainable thing. Plant-based living and eating is the future."

  1. Museum: Kay Stepkin founded the nation's only cultural and historical vegetarian museum, The National Vegetarian Museum, headquartered in Chicago.

  2. Food Corporations: Four major plant-based/vegetarian corporations, and many smaller ones, are headquarted in Chicago: Upton's Natural, Greenleaf Foods, The Vegan Food Company, and Quorn.

  3. Vegan Food Festival and Events: Chicago is home to FOUR vegan food festivals, not to mention 5k runs, Vegan Proms, Meet-ups and Networking events. 

  4. Restaurants: While vegan dishes are popping up on menus everywhere, there are over 10 strictly vegan restaurants in Chicago alone (not counting many places that naturally have a mostly vegan menu, such as Indian or Thai restaurants, or the suburbs!) 

  5. The Good Food Institute, a vegan think-tank, has its Department of Innovation in the Chicagoland area.

  6. Medical Community: Vegan Cardiologist and Head of the Rush Medical Center Department of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams, is conducting a vegan study in conjunction with Chief Operating Officer of Cook County's Department of Public Health, Dr. Terry Mason (vegan), on Chicago's Southside. Results coming.

  7. The National Anti-Vivisection Society is in Chicago and a campaign for a Slaughter-free (and Slaughterhouse free) Chicago is underway.

  8. Vegan Authors: Ashlee Piper's book, Give A Sh*t: Do Good, Live Better and Save the Planet has had acclaimed success with quotes of praise from Moby among other celebs. Plus, there are vegan cookbooks by Chicago authors. 

  9. Vegan Motorcycle Club: Chicago has a thriving Vegan Motorcycle Club chapter. 

  10. For 11 years in a row, Illinois has been named the #1 state for animal protection laws by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. 

  11. Awesome Vegans Podcast: Plant-based Expert and Podcast Host Elysabeth Alfano interviews the nation's most influential vegans (doctors, entrepreneurs, comedians, musicians, celebs, politicians, athletes, influencers, chefs, economists, environmentalists) shedding light on how these people are making the world a better place for people, the environment and animals through their actions, voices and choices. Past guests: Bear's Pat O'Donnell, Billy Corgan, NBA Legend John Salley, Joan Jett, Dr. Neal Barnard, Ethan Brown, founder of Beyond Meat, IL senator Linda Holmes and many more.

Lucy Page