A previous version of this vegan Manhattan guide appeared on Conscious City Guides.
What New York City Isn’t:
Lingering over lunch for three hours with your best friend. Leaving work promptly at 5 PM to go for a couple beers with your coworkers. An intimate, sparsely decorated coffee shop with only a few loiterers, all of whom you recognize.
New York is not leisurely. It is not intimate. It is not clean and cookie-cutter. It does not smell like fresh earth, and it is not always the friendliest.
But this is the thing about New York. She doesn’t give a subway rat’s ass what you think about her, because she’s too busy trying to make her dreams come true.
What New York City Is:
She is fast. She is direct. She is unafraid to offend, and she can be intimidating. Her veins are numbered streets, interlocking in a grid-like pattern, and her cells are the millions of young creatives, entrepreneurs, innovators, techies, and over-all go-getters. People don’t come to New York to sit in a cafe and read magazines. They come to New York to make shit happen. If there were such thing as time in fast-forward, New York is where you would find it.
Many people who come to New York find it stifling and don’t stick around for very long. However, the ambitious attitudes of those who stay have translated to a lot of really inspiring and innovating projects come to fruition. You’ve got the Brooklyn Grange building farms on top of rooftops, because, why not? Sustainability-minded fashion designers and slow-food, locally-sourcing restauranteurs are stealing the limelight at an impressive rate. New York may not be gentle and zen and all the other things that you may think encompass “conscious living,” but if you look behind her stone cold exterior, you will find that deep down she’s just a whole lotta tough love.
I couldn’t fathom trying to cover all five boroughs in one city guide (it was hard enough to come up with a guide to vegan Manhattan alone without feeling like I was writing an encyclopedia)… partially because of the sheer size of the entire city combined, and partially because each borough truly takes on its own persona. I like to think that the five boroughs of New York City are like siblings. They all have a shared history. with more or less the same blood and DNA flowing through their veins. But each has also grown to take on a personality of its own, with its own unique set of characteristics.
So before I get too ahead of myself, here is what I consider the top things to see, eat, drink, and do in the city that never sleeps. Let’s start with Manhattan.
But First… Coffee (and Tea)
EAST VILLAGE | 51 ASTOR PL
WEST VILLAGE | 30 CARMINE ST
CHELSEA | 55 GREENWICH AVE
An Australian-style cafe known for both their coffee and their delicious brunch. Order the avocado toast and I promise you won’t be sorry.
A Scandinavian chain of coffee shops with several locations throughout Manhattan. Come here for really good coffee and a variety of Swedish specialty food items.
Where to Eat
WEST VILLAGE | 33 CARMINE ST
A beautiful, health-focused restaurant with a farm-to-table ethos and an extensive menu of gourmet, largely plant-based dishes.
LOWER EAST SIDE | 49 CANAL ST
This small, artsy establishment has a menu of healthy items like chia pudding, acai bowls, a quinoa bowl, and “love toast.”e most amazing gluten-free falafel and other vegetarian Israeli fare.
A retro-themed ice creamery with vegan options.
UNION SQUARE | 888 BROADWAY
ABC Carpet & Home is what I like to consider the Barney’s of conscious consumerism. Take your time perusing the different departments dedicated to fashion apparel, jewelry, cosmetics, home goods, furniture, books, and more.
CHELSEA | 75 9TH AVE
A trip to the Big Apple wouldn’t be complete without an hour or two spent shopping and eating your way through the famed Chelsea Market. Shop handmade goods from Artists & Fleas and taste ethnic dishes from one of the many specialty food outposts.
SOHO | 9 PRINCE ST,
Non-toxic beauty products from brands you know and love, like Tata Harper, RMS, and Fig & Yarrow.
SOHO | 23 HOWARD ST
LOWER EAST SIDE | 156 LUDLOW ST
The brand that made sustainable fashion sexy. Come here to find eco-friendly fashion digs that don’t necessarily scream “eco-friendly.”
UNION SQUARE | 828 BROADWAY
A beautiful bookstore selling used, new, and rare books and regularly hosting events and book signings.
Sweat (or Flow) it Out
Manhattan makes it easy to stay fit and active. On top of walking miles upon miles just to get around, the city has an insane amount of gyms and fitness studios at your disposal- cycling, yoga, pilates, barre, boot camp, you name it. But that doesn’t mean you need to shell out $20+ to get in a good sweat session. There are also tons of opportunities to simply get out and go out for a run (Central Park and the path along the Hudson River are two of the most popular running spots) or hit up a free class.
YOGA TO THE PEOPLE
This donation-based yoga studio is a favorite among young Manhattanites who can’t afford a $200 per month membership at an elite studio. Each of their four locations offers a slightly different style of yoga, although all are Vinyasa-based. Just arrive 10-15 minutes early, grab yourself a spot, and pay what you can afford on the way out.
TAKE A FREE CLASS AT LULULEMON
free yoga every Sunday at 9:30 AM
rotating fitness class every Saturday at 9 AM
free yoga every Sunday at 10 AM
75TH & BROADWAY
free yoga every Sunday at 9 AM
Run Club every Wednesday at 7 PM
FIND A FREE FITNESS CLASS ON SHAPEUP NYC
You can find a free fitness class nearly every day throughout the summer in one of NYC’s parks. Click here for the full schedule.
Things to See & Do
A $20 donation is suggested for a foraging tour, which typically starts between 11:30 AM and 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays in various locations throughout the city. You can check out the schedule here and call at least a day in advance to book your spot.
HOUR OF HAPPINESS AT THE ALCHEMIST’S KITCHEN
Head over to the Alchemist’s Kitchen’s flagship store in Bowery on Fridays from 5-8 PM for botanical elixirs and herbal cocktails.
WALK THROUGH CENTRAL PARK
While you may be tempted to stay in the bottom portions of the park, I really encourage you to explore further north. The further up you go, the less crowded it gets, and the less you feel like you’re in the middle of one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Browse the abstract art exhibitions at The Whitney, then grab a bite to eat at their cafe.
WALK THE HIGH LINE
When the weather is nice, walk the roughly one-and-a-half-mile elevated pathway that runs from the Lower West Side up to the Meatpacking district.
See the complete Vegan Manhattan Guide on Conscious City Guides.
What’s your favorite vegan Manhattan spot?
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Photo: Conscious City Guides