Denver used to be a lonely place for vegans and vegetarians. After all, the Mile High City’s most famous food is steak, it being a cattle hub and host to the National Western Stock Show.
So ubiquitous is the cowboy image that visitors see it in everywhere as soon as they’re off the plane. But Denver grocery stores and restaurants now show that carnivores don’t own the whole rodeo here. Vegetarians and vegans have a growing array of choices that mark their growing presence.
The trendy Watercourse Restaurants, with three locations, boast entirely-vegetarian menus that include vegan items that go well with gourmet coffee. Vietnamese restaurants called ‘Pho’ ( pronounced ‘Fuh’) have a number of veggie choices, they are in every neighborhood from Brighton in the north to Littleton in the south.
Sputnik café in the hip Baker neighborhood offers vegan items as well as traditional fare; like in the local Phos, it’s easy for those vegans and non-vegans to eat together here.
For vegan folks considering a move to the Mile High City, prospects are also promising. At the stores of prominent grocer King Soopers, the popular vegan “cheese” substitute Daiya is an easy find. Next to the Daiya, one will find Tofurkey vegan sausages in three varieties: Italian, Beer Brat and Kielbasa. They’re as easy to find in stores in the mellow, northern suburbs like Brighton as in the trendier south ‘burbs that include Littleton.
For more ‘advanced’ vegan products like bulk textured vegetable protein, its necessary to go to Sprouts or Whole Foods, but both chains have plenty of stores here. Vegan sausage maker Field Roast reports that some Whole Foods stores in Denver are now test markets for a new wheat-based vegan frankfurter that, taste-wise, is centuries ahead of it’s tofu-based predecessors.
Metro Denver has four large vegan social groups born from the popular Meetups.com. Combined membership is over 2,400, including 300 newbies in the last four months, group organizers said. Non-vegans are welcome potlucks are hosted monthly. A 2012 potluck that included diners from Brighton boasted an appearance by author and Chef Alan Roettinger.
The fact is that being vegan in metro Denver no longer means being lonely, even-though the Mile High City and its burgeoning suburbs still sit in the heart of beef country. Being veggie in Denver won’t make you loaner at all. Even in beef country, a vegan won’t get a bum steer.