Pop Culture Shock: Being Vegan in Cleveland

An insight into a vegan lifestyle in Cleveland and its global impacts


David Vahey

Nature’s Oasis at the Van Aken District provides vegan alternatives to the community.

When I was four years old, I had an epiphany that would forever change my life. I realized that the chicken at the farm was the same animal on my plate. I made a promise that I’d never eat meat again.

Twelve years later, I’ve gone through multiple trials with veganism . I would usually last about a week until something made me break, then a few weeks later, I’d try again. I wanted to be vegan for the same reason I did when I was younger — animal rights and environmental activism. Veganism became more and more popular as more and more information surfaced about animal cruelty in the dairy industry. I saw an Instagram video republished from a group of animal activists who went undercover in Fairlife —  a dairy company which now promotes a cruelty free policy, now promising to crack down on abuse cases such as this. 

Ten seconds into the video was all I needed, and I’ve been vegan ever since.

My goal is to be vegan for at least a year, and hopefully longer. Now, being vegan is not that easy. Luckily, in my community, I don’t have to worry about what I can eat.

Some places around Cleveland were my favorites before I turned vegan, and now I rarely go. Tommy’s at Coventry is an amazing restaurant, their main attraction being their milkshakes. The vegan Tofutti milkshake costs $7.29 compared to a regular milkshake costing $5.49. One of their vegan options — the “Vegan Toasted Cheese,” — contains Daiya, a vegan cheese brand not popular among the vegans I know. 

Luna is another cafe that I used to attend at least biweekly. Now, I rarely go. Though their drinks can always be substituted with almond milk, their vegan baked goods or meals are few or require alterations. 

I’ve been lucky enough to find safe havens in places like Restore, a smoothie and juice bar located in the Van Aken District. The menu is vegan-friendly, with things like acai bowls, superfruit smoothies and fresh juice. Unfortunately, the prices are not always wallet-friendly. However, as Shaker continues to expand its business outreach, the number of vegan restaurants grow with it.

Nature’s Oasis is possibly the best vegan eatery in Cleveland. It recently opened in the Van Aken district as well, and contains vegan options I never thought were possible. Vegan pizza bagels (my personal favorite), vegan chicken sandwiches, vegan waffles and more that one would think they have to search through the internet archives to find. And even better, their cafe contains reasonable prices.

Sasa is another vegan restaurant at Shaker Square, where I’ve never had to compromise for their delicious Japanese food. My regular is their Sasa fries, edamame and a vegetable sushi roll. This is food you will never grow sick of. 

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also known as PETA, 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States of America is dedicated to raising animals for food and growing grain to feed the animals. By being vegan, vegetarian or pescetarian, you can help reduce the contribution to this market. PETA also recorded that one trillion pounds of waste produced by factory-farm animals are used to fertilize crops, which then become runoff into waterways every year. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that around 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the USA come from animal waste. 

Looking at these facts, I know that being vegan is about more than personal health or animal rights. All of our small contributions are helping to save the environment. 

Pop Culture Shock is a bimonthly opinion series focusing on current events in pop culture. Written by Opinion Editor Olivia Warren, it reads between the lines of social issues and explores new entries into pop culture.

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