New York City / Photo by / IM_photo

New York City: A Queer Vegan Haven

With its rich queer history and unmatched cuisine, it’s clear to see why New York City is a huge tourist destination. When I recently returned to the city as an adult after taking part in the tourist attractions during a trip as a child, I chose to simply enjoy whatever the city had to offer me. NYC is so large, with each borough and each neighborhood within each borough offering completely different experiences, that it’s nearly impossible to really experience the whole place in one trip. During my trip, I stayed in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Manhattan alone could be one trip, whereas depending on which part of Brooklyn you’re in, “the city that never sleeps” can actually fall asleep.

New York had so much to offer me as a queer vegan. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus primarily on what you should do in the Manhattan area.


If you’re like me and don’t want to eat out for every meal when you travel, Chinatown is the most affordable option for groceries. Although I loved Tompkins Square Greenmarket in the East Village, the prices in Chinatown just can’t be beat. There are so many wonderful street vendors with delicious fresh fruit and other produce. Likewise, there is an H-Mart and a magical store called Lily’s Vegan Pantry that has a wide variety of mock meat (many of which I had never seen before) and other Asian vegan goodies. If you want to grab a bite to eat while getting groceries, there is a plethora of amazing restaurants as well.


Harlem is an amazing neighborhood with rich Black history, museums, jazz clubs, and delicious restaurants. The historic Apollo theater is here and as beautiful as ever. Some museums to check out are The National Jazz Museum (a museum that shows work from Black artists) and The Africa Center. When we went to the Africa Center, it had a large quilt of Black artists, chefs and other influential people on display, as well as Ebony magazine’s iconic test kitchen from the ’70s (which was a favorite of mine as a lover of ’70s and midcentury modern design). Seasoned Vegan and Vegan Hood are Black women-owned vegan soul food restaurants. At Vegan Hood, we got “oxtail,” mac and cheese, and greens, and it was some of — if not the — best vegan soul food I’ve ever had. I dream about that meal often.

Garment District/SoHo

If you grew up watching “Project Runway” when it was on the air, then you must take the chance to say, “Thank you, Mood!” yourself. Mood Fabrics is in a skyscraper among other businesses, and you have to take an elevator up to it. Once you step out of the elevator, you’re greeted with fabrics galore. If you love fashion, you can visit The Museum at FIT to see old and new collections alike. If all the fashion consumption makes you hungry, there is a revolutionary vegan restaurant with multiple locations in Manhattan called Beyond Sushi. If you’re not in the mood for sushi, Beatnic offers an assortment of great salads and sandwiches.

Union Square, Greenwich Village and Lower East Side

One of the main reasons to visit Union Square is for the iconic Union Square Greenmarket, which operates Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. This greenmarket has immense vendors for local produce, fresh bread, and more. This area is also home to some distinctive museums, such as The Museum of Interesting Things Secret Speakeasy and Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, a not-for-profit museum that archives the history of community gardens, squatting, and grassroots environmental activism. Also, one of the most important establishments in queer history, The Stonewall Inn, is here. On Tuesday nights they have a singing competition, “The Next Best Cabaret Star!” and host dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights.

With the city’s rich leftist history, it’s no surprise that there is an abundance of progressive bookstores as well. We visited Bluestockings Books and Printed Matter. Bluestockings is a community establishment that, in addition to being a bookstore and café, also offers mutual aid to locals. Printed Matter has so many insightful books and zines by local artists. I got a youth culture zine covering the DIY Hardcore scene of the area. Regarding food, there is a fully vegan Mexican restaurant called Jajaja Mexicana, and for people who love to cook, there’s Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company, which has teas, organic spices, dried herbs, unusual salts and more.

For gay events outside of Stonewall, NYC has a lot to offer. Ginger’s Bar has a beautiful garden and hosts open mics and disco parties. Henrietta Hudson has a jukebox and often plays reggae and hip-hop. Good Judy has vegan food, themed nights, and viewing parties. Branded Saloon is an antique “Wild West” themed bar with a piano that plays ragtime and old Western music, whiskey, and seasonal cocktails. Nowhere in the East Village is a favorite haunt for the creative types, and Julius’ is the city’s oldest gay bar.