You don’t typically think of New Jersey or the Philadelphia area as some kind of vegan Mecca or anything, but the number of places to grab quality plant-based grub is on the rise here. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling some of it myself in my travels, and it does not disappoint. If you’re looking for some insight on where to go the next time you’re in the area, or if you’re a vegan already living here but at a loss as to where to eat out at, you’ll want to read on.
It’s important to remember that our buying power as consumers plays a huge role in bringing veganism to the mainstream. The more we support businesses that offer vegan options, the more demand that is created, and the more profit a business stands to make. So even if a business or restaurant offers non-vegan food items, don’t write them off. In fact, it’s these venues, going out on a limb to cater to just 2% of the population, that need our support the most. We highly encourage supporting your local businesses, diners, and restaurants by requesting and purchasing their vegan items. If they see that the options are selling, they will expand their menu even more.
With that being said, let’s dive in.
Tortilla Press: Collingswood, New Jersey
Already known throughout South Jersey for its delicious Mexican cuisine, the Tortilla Press has recently began to dabble heavy into vegan entrees, and man have hit the ball out of the park. The quality of their food speaks for itself, but their vegan selections are so tasty you would think it was their specialty. For the last couple of years, we’ve been finding ourselves drawn to the place for holidays and events just for the food. It helps that they have been holding “vegan nights” where their entire menu goes plant-based!
I can personally attest to their seitan tacos – you would not even know you are eating nothing but plants. They also have “vegan BBQ pulled pork” tacos using jackfruit, chipotle curry, sweet potato burritos, and more. They really have cemented themselves as a go to location for vegan eats in the area, seemingly overnight.
What helps is that Tortilla Press is also a business that is going green. They are taking measures to reduce their environmental waste by nixing Styrofoam, using energy efficient bulbs, and serving only free trade organic coffee. They are definitely a venue worth going out of your way for if you’re on a quest for good vegan dining in the area.
Wildflower Vegan Cafe: Millville, New Jersey
Another must-visit spot on any South Jersey vegan tour, the Wildflower Cafe sports specialty wraps, sausage seitan, and salads. They also have an impressive selection of vegan desserts to choose from, including chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, and double chocolate almond cupcakes.
You can’t say enough about their wraps, though. Everyone who has the pleasure of trying them ends up raving about them. You wouldn’t think such a wonderful vegan eatery could be nestled all the way out in Millville, but it’s worth journeying to if you’re in the area. Makes a decent pit stop if you’re on your way to the Jersey shore.
Norma’s: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
This trendy upscale restaurant specializes in Eastern Mediterranean fare, with a wide variety of vegan selections to choose from. Though the restaurant isn’t specifically vegan, they do offer favorites such as expertly made hummus, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, tasty lentil soup, and exotic salads.
Norma’s dates back to 1992, when Norma herself opened a sandwich shop with her husband George right in the heart of Cherry Hill. It soon became a favorite haunt of the locals, and as word spread, they expanded into a full-fledged restaurant in 2005. Their food and reputation speaks for themselves – definitely give them a chance if you happen to be in the area.
Heart Beet: Westmont, New Jersey
This small, charming restaurant is another one of those places that locals know like the back of their hands, but goes surprisingly under the radar if you don’t already know about it. Located in the hip center of the bustling city of Westmont (not far from the Tortilla Press, actually), Heart Beet has won over its customers with tasty vegan delights that range from BBQ jackfruit pizza, to classic green smoothies. They also have an impressive selection of salads, specialty coffees, tofu sandwiches, and even some kombucha on deck. In other words, they are a vegan’s wish come true.
In fact, Heart Beet has enjoyed so much success over the last few years that they recently expanded and now have a location in Ocean City, New Jersey, not far from the Boardwalk. This is awesome, because for how much wonderful food there is on the Boardwalk, it’s somewhat lacking in the vegan department.
Mad Batter: Cape May, New Jersey
A quirky little place down in the historic district of Cape May, Mad Batter has a great selection of vegan eats even if they aren’t really billed as a vegan hotspot. If you’re in the Cape May area and don’t know where to get a good meal, you can’t go wrong here.
They have a great variety of specialty salads, vegan tostadas, and even vegan ravioli. They also host events throughout the year and are right in the mix alongside the rest of historic Cape May’s rich variety of art shows, live music events, and other goings-on, so you’re not likely to be bored if you decide to dine there. For anyone who isn’t a regular, you have to check out the area. It’s the definition of charming.
The Pop Shop: Collingswood, New Jersey
We’re rounding out our tour of South Jersey vegan restaurants by venturing back to Collingswood to partake of the award-winning food from the Pop Shop. Despite their specialty being their wide assortment of decadent milkshakes and ice cream dishes, they also offer a solid variety of tasty vegan meals to satisfy anyone.
Not only can many of their traditional meals be substituted with vegan options (vegan cheese on steak sandwiches and burgers, for example), but they also have a few vegan-specific dishes as well, such as veggie dogs, wraps and quesadillas. They also have vegan pancakes and other breakfast options for those morning cravings. The best part? For only a mere $1 extra they can “veganize” most of their award-winning milkshakes, so you won’t feel left out.
Eating at the Pop Shop is quite the experience – if you’ve never been there, it has a unique energy and an aura straight out of a 50s ice-cream parlor. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and try it out.
Support Vegan Businesses Near You
The most important factor in seeing more vegan options in South Jersey and beyond is “supply and demand.” These places wouldn’t exist without the growing demand for vegan products, so use your purchasing power and support these businesses when you can. Not only do they have amazing food, they are raising awareness for veganism in general. The more plant-based options are visible, especially in places that ordinarily cater to the average American diet, the better. It’s a win-win situation.
Your spending power is more than you know. Already many Wal-Marts are transitioning from cheap, processed foods to organic and vegan options. The rise of veganism as a movement is gaining traction, because people are seeing the health benefits, the environmental benefits, and want to do their part to save animals. Not to mention, as any vegan will attest, this food is just plain delicious!
So if you’re in the area looking for some good vegan eats, you’re in good hands. As more great vegan restaurants pop up, will be expanding this list too! Want to share your experiences with us? Drop a comment for us below.