The Rapidian

Finding vegan food gets easier

Vegan Grand Rapids offers a guide for vegan dining.
Underwriting support from:
The Bartertown Vegan Grandwich

The Bartertown Vegan Grandwich /Kolene Allen

Vegan Grand Rapids gives vegans an overview of vegan restaurants and vegan menu options found in traditional restaurants. Created by Kolene Allen and Jon Dunn, the website offers a list of area restaurants which cater to the vegan lifestyle.

The website features a blog which keeps readers updated on vegan news and events. A recent post was an unofficial but mathematically proven claim that Grand Rapids has more vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States.

“If it’s not good, we’re not going to recommend it,” says Allen. The two are particular about their website. This puts some pressure on restaurants that would like to be featured. Dunn and Allen will not attach their name to any food they do not find appetizing.

Recently, Allen and Dunn were at a Japanese place and were served sushi rolls with imitation crab. The item was featured on the vegetarian menu and Allen had to point out to them that it was not a vegetarian item, as imitation crab meat is made from white fish. More than once, the duo says, they have called a restaurant out on serving a vegan menu item that was not truly vegan.

The idea for the website started when Dunn first moved into the city and was having trouble finding vegan restaurants. Discovering that there was no guide for local vegans, the two decided to create one to fill the void. Vegan Grand Rapids is a nonprofit website and Allen and Dunn are not looking to make a profit, but perhaps a few donations to help keep the site going.

“We both came to this from the animal perspective,” says Dunn, who is the Senior Manager of Online Strategy for Best Friends Animal Society, on why they became vegan. “It felt disingenuous to work for them and still eat any meat.” Both Allen and Dunn have been vegans for two years.

Allen says the average vegan is not necessarily young, though they may be the ones you've heard from. "Young people tend to be more passionate," says Allen.

Dunn says he wants to coin the term "Executive Vegan" to describe vegans who look and act professionally. “It is not strict punk,” says Dunn.

“I think that because we run Vegan Grand Rapids, people have said that we’ve taken on a role overseeing all things vegan in Grand Rapids. We kind of have a responsibility to live up to that,” says Allen. The two have reluctantly taken on the role as the authority for all things vegan in the city.

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