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CAN YOU LET US IN ON SOME OF CHICAGO'S BEST RESOURCES FOR VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS?
For restaurants, Chicago Diner and Soul Veg are classic standbys. Handlebar and Karyn's are also must-visits. Happy Cow is a great site (and app) to help find all the other gems in Chicago, or anywhere else in the country. The two big meetup.com groups, Vegan Chicago and Chicago Veg, have also been a great resource in finding out about the latest veg restaurants and events. Mercy For Animals has done a great job as well, approaching nonveg restaurants and getting them to add vegan options. As for grocery stores, Whole Foods South Loop (Roosevelt & Canal) has the most vegan selections in the city. Other great independents are New Leaf (they have the best delivered weekly produce boxes!), Green Grocer, and Dill Pickle Co-op.
—Dan Staackmann, founder of Upton's Natural's
Personally, the best resource for being vegetarian/vegan is an animal rights group, such as Mercy for Animals. That helps us remember why we do it! Food-wise, I go to the Chicago Diner or Native Foods.
—Ryan Howard, president of Chicago Vegan Foods (formerly Chicago Soydairy)
I feel lucky to have the Dill Pickle Co-op and Logan Square Farmer's Market within a few blocks of our house. Our favorite restaurants include Lula Cafe, Karyn's On Green, and Green Zebra. We have also had amazing meals at Boka, Girl and the Goat, and Schwa. I feel that more and more restaurants are catering to vegetarian/vegan diets.
—Paul McGee, co-owner/head bartender of the Whistler
The CSA farmer I admire most is Vickie Westerhoff of Genesis Growers. Vickie got into farming after some serious health problems and taking care of herself seems to include taking care of the land where she works her butt off growing an amazing array of vegetables. I'll go out of my way to visit her at Green City Market, and she also sells at the Oak Park Farmers Market.
The first time I noticed "gourmet" varieties of vegetables at the farmers markets was at Nichols Farm & Orchard's booth. Fava beans, fingerling potatoes, heirloom apples. They grow over 200 varieties of apples! Nichols added a CSA model recently, and even though I haven't spied into their boxes I'm sure they include many of the crops I see at their market displays. Localharvest.org lists a lot more farmers who deliver CSA boxes to Chicago.
—Vera Videnovich, Videnovich Farms
I've found the Green Grocer in West Town to be a great source of locally farmed food. I've always thought Alice and Friends, which is now called the Loving Hut, up on Broadway was pretty good, and they do the copy-meat thing to a somewhat lesser degree. But you gotta deal with all the cult propaganda up there. Any CSA in general is a great way to learn new ingredients and to expand your repertoire. And of course, I have to plug the Food on the Dole Salon and say that what we do on the Vegetarian Salon nights is all about using whatever is available to make a nourishing, delicious, and satisfying meal, keeping things spontaneous and real—meaning that we cook together and create recipes, rather than working off of written recipes, to make some really good food.
—Hugh Amano, chef and founder of the blog Food on the Dole