Written and photographed by THE Olivia Bauso


We know that all major lifestyle changes start on January 1st and dissipate by February.

But one UK organization is hoping their plant-based pledge will encourage a diet change that lasts a lifetime.

Veganuary is a non-profit organization that encourages people to try a vegan diet during the month of January (and beyond). Since the campaign launched in 2014, more than 500,000 people have registered to try vegan, although data suggests that ten times more people actually try going vegan in January each year as part of their New Year’s Resolution.

While the organization is doing its part, Veganuary isn’t the only voice shouting “Go Vegan!” Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the public perception of vegan lifestyles and the ethical obligation to go vegan thanks to celebrity and political advocates, positive media exposure, and myth-busting studies. Popular documentaries like The Game Changers and Forks Over Knives lay out the health benefits of a plant-based protein diet for professional athletes and the toll processed meats can take on one’s health. And the everyday impact of climate change, which we know is contributed to by the meat and dairy industries, poses a moral obligation to consume fewer animal products– one beyond the protection of animal rights, the central definition of veganism.

This shift is reflected in communities all around New York, with grocers and restaurants expanding their vegan-friendly offerings and 100% vegan restaurants popping up around the state. Local giants Aldi and Wegmans have rolled out deals on vegan products like Just Egg and Impossible Beef and introduced their own brands of meat and dairy replacements that are often sold out due to high demand. Rochester Instagrammers, like @VegansRoc, band together to share what’s in stock and which location has the best variety before it’s all gone. The same goes for vegan specials at local eateries.

Olivia Bauso: Selection of vegan foods at Aldi

Often, dining out as a non-meat-eater in a meat-topped-with-meat-sauce city means crafting together a meal out of side salads and fries. But for those in the area going vegan this year, or simply trying something new, this is the perfect time to visit one of the entirely vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in Rochester. You just have to know where to go.


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A vegan version of our classic breakfast sammie, available Monday — Friday. 🍳🥑

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A number of top dogs the Rochester food scene have added plant-based options to their otherwise meat-full menus. Bar Bantam, the bar and restaurant that inhabits the lobby of the Metropolitan Building, is popular for its ability to accommodate dietary restrictions and food allergies, offering tofu and mushrooms as a substitute for any protein. Similarly, pizza palace/cocktail bar Swan Dive has added the “On Trend” to its menu, a vegan pie that features feta from local greek cafe, Voula’s Greek Sweets (another spot where omnivores and vegans can find common ground). Comfort food kings Tap and Mallet, Dogtown, and Cinelli’s offer vegan wings, BLTs, burgers, plates, pizzas, and pasta dishes that kill in the vegan community.

Olivia Bauso: Hettie’s Delites Cafe interior
Olivia Bauso: Hettie’s Delites Cafe exterior

The list of vegan and meat-eater-friendly restaurants goes on which means there’s a little bit for everyone. But for animal rights activists, this begs the question, “Is a little bit good enough?”

Last week, “vegetarian and mostly vegan cafe,” Hettie’s Delites posted a controversial image that read, “If you’re eating Impossible Burgers or vegan items at places that serve meat, you better believe that they don’t have a meat-free and dairy-free grill. If that doesn’t bother you… Not cool.” The post received 89 likes and 25 comments on Instagram and 27 reactions and 69 comments on Facebook. Some called Hettie’s comments “judgemental” and argued they reinforced negative vegan stereotypes. Others pointed out that Hettie’s has yet to make the leap to 100% vegan and wondered why they still offered items containing dairy and eggs. Still, others stood by the sentiment that every little bit counts.

The cafe serves lunch, dinner, and breakfast all day and is known for its Sunday pancake specials and vegan baked goods. They’re also one of the few local spots that serves the almighty Impossible Burger.



Olivia Bauso: Hettie’s Delites Cafe Daily Vegan Baked Goods
Olivia Bauso: Hettie’s Delites Cafe “No Chicken Club” Wrap Special with Avocado and Tempeh Bacon,


Hettie’s Delites Cafe responded with a second post on Instagram explaining, “If you live in Rochester and have never been here and you are flocking to places with 98% meat on the menu just remember… we have a vegan grill! Too much negativity for a community based on love.” And that’s why you shouldn’t read the Facebook comments.

Luckily for Rochestarians, there are a number of restaurants serving up 100% vegan dishes, so there’s no drama involved in your meal. (Fingers crossed.) New to the scene is all vegan pizza shop, New Ethic Pizzeria & Cafe. Owner Matt Nersinger, who’s vegan himself, writes, “For me, veganism isn’t a business opportunity. It’s intertwined with my morals.” Located north of the city on Titus and Hudson, the shop serves wings, plates, pizzas, calzones, subs, garlic knots, mozzarella sticks, and more, including gluten-free options.

Other spots for entirely vegan eats in the city include restaurant and wholesale favorite The Red Fern, which offers entrees, sandwiches, specials, fresh juice, smoothies, house-baked pastries, kombucha on tap, beer, and wine, and Natural Oasis Cafe, which offers an Ethiopian-style lunch buffet, dinner menu and dessert.

Ethical vegans, health vegans, trend-following vegans, once-a-week vegans, and one-meal-a-month vegans can agree, the meatless meal options in Rochester are growing. And every little bit counts– even when the trolls disagree. 

Trying a vegan diet for the first time this month? Limiting the amount of meat and dairy in your diet this year? Let us know what you think of these spots. (And if we missed any fan favorites!)


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Hail seitan for @voulasgreeksweets 🙌 ——— Pictured: Gyro Plate (it has house-made seitan!) 🤤

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