Plant-based diets have soared in popularity over the past few years. In fact, according to GlobalData, there has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the U.S. alone in the last three years. And contrary to popular belief, there’s more to these diets than just simple salads—you CAN get creative. While meat lovers around the world may be skeptical of enjoying a meal made of mostly grains and greens, these New York vegan/vegetarian restaurants prove that plants and meat substitutes can be delicious.
Sol Sips - Williamsburg
Far wiser than her 22 years, Francesca Chaney opened the permanent location of Sol Sips this past April in Brooklyn. The homey “bevs and bites” location is inspired by everything soul, from music to food. The name Sol Sips was even born from Chaney’s musical past; she sang in a duo called Sol and Luna, believing in the power of music healing therapy.
Now she’s more focused on food therapy, putting a heavy dose of healthy ingredients into all of her vegan drinks and snacks to fuel her customers. “The wellness perspective on food has always been a big interest to me, using food as preventative medicine and ways to heal ourselves has been my passion,” explains Chaney.
Sol Sip's Sawai Sweet Smoothie outside their Brooklyn shop
Chaney is happily incorporating her roots into her restaurant. One of Sol Sips’ standouts is the green banana tamale, a traditional recipe from Belize that she learned from her grandmother. “That’s a simple dish that has always been vegan, and it wasn’t necessarily branded as vegan in the culture,” says Chaney.
Her favorite thing on the menu? The bacon, egg and cheese. Sol Sips brings a vegan twist to the New York breakfast staple, using tempeh bacon, chickpea egg, and Violife cheese. “It’s something that is hard to find anywhere else,” says Chaney. “It’s very earth-based.”
In a year, she hopes to see her business expand to other areas of New York via pop-ups. She also has her eyes on a Zagat award and is looking to extend her own community outreach. Within a few months, we might find some Sol Sips bottled drinks on our local shelves.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery - Lower East Side
In 2005, Erin McKenna set out in the Lower East Side to create a bakery free of harmful ingredients while wearing cute uniforms. Her first bakery is still there, with additional locations in Los Angeles and Orlando and a nation-wide shipping reach if you’re ever caught craving her desserts anywhere else in the U.S.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery looks exactly like what you’d expect any other bakery to look like. There are pastel-colored cakes displayed in the front window and a small counter with a glass display, for you to point to your choice of dessert if you feel so inclined. However, this commonplace seeming spot comes with a large title: It’s the country's leading gluten free, vegan, certified kosher bakery, and McKenna herself is a bit of a superstar.
Erin McKenna's Lemon Sugar Cookies. Photo courtesy of erinmckennasbakery.com
Having appeared on Martha Stewart, the Today Show and Rachel Ray, McKenna has forged her path as one of the best bakers for those with food allergies and sensitivities—or just those who are looking to indulge in a better-for-you sweet.
The crowd pleasers are the red velvet cupcakes and delectable donuts.
Little Choc Apothecary - Williamsburg
First-time restaurateur Julia Kravets sought to create a healthy restaurant that offered food that was good for your body. It wasn’t until she watched Earthlings, a documentary about human economic dependence on animals, that she decided she couldn’t ethically make a living supporting animal cruelty. The result: New York City’s first fully vegan creperie offering an array of sweet and savory options.
“I'm enjoying the challenge of convincing people that vegan and gluten-free crepes are not going to resemble the experience of eating chalk. The difficult part is getting people past their preconceptions, and actually trying our stuff--after that, they're hooked,” says Kravets. Photo courtesy of Patrick Yandoc
Besides crepes, Little Choc Apothecary is also stocked with 100 different herb varieties for any custom tea combination imaginable, earning the term “apothecary.” Herbs are also available to be taken home by the ounce.
Her advice to other women starting off in the restaurant industry? “Be a Jane of all trades. I encourage people to keep a calm demeanor, and work through each problem as it comes along. There's a problem to be solved at every corner, and you can't be discouraged or overwhelmed by that, because that's what's going to drown your business.”
The Butcher's Daughter - Nolita
As a self-proclaimed “vegetable slaughterhouse,” the Butcher’s Daughter avoids the mess of meat in favor of carving deliciously fresh pant-based options incorporated into mouth-watering meals. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, they truly do it all, and have built quite the plant-based empire.
The Butcher's Daughter opened their West Village location in 2016, their second in NYC, having already established itself as a popular venue. There are also locations in LA, and another coming to Brooklyn soon, so keep your eyes peeled. Tierney is dedicated to buying locally-sourced ingredients and relies on Head Juiceologist, Brandi Kowalski, to develop the tastiest of juices.
Smashed avocado toast with a sunny-side-up egg from The Butcher's Daughter
If visiting the cozy Nolita location, you’ll immediately notice the Butcher’s Daughter settled snugly on the corner of Kenmare and Elizabeth St.
It looks as if it were dropped there from a hygge-filled Danish town. The entrance is flanked by wooden benches always teeming with hungry customers, not matter the time or day. Sunshine yellow flowers, vibrant juices boasting the colors of the rainbow, and wicker baskets brimming with fruits and greens are just a few of the enticing sights. That being said, the dishes are the real stars: avocado toast topped with a sumptuous, runny egg, creamy açaí bowls with coconut granola, spiced wellness lattes, and a plethora of other healthful delicacies. Even the most carnivorous of carnivores would find themselves sated after a Butcher’s Daughter meal.
Dirt Candy - Lower East Side
After an impressive ten years of professional cooking under her belt, Amanda Cohen decided to start Dirt Candy in 2008. Chock-full of creative recipe ideas with no outlet to test them while working for someone else, Cohen found the ultimate solution: become her own boss.
Dirt Candy’s menu is inventive and ever-changing. From classic dinner items with a plant-based twist, like the jalapeno hush puppies and brussels sprout tacos, to unexpected desserts, like onion chocolate tarts and carrot meringue pies, expect to be surprised. How does Cohen pick what to put on her menu? Whatever idea pops out of her brain and onto the plate. “Unlike a lot of places that lock their menus, I’m constantly putting new dishes on the menu. Come here in January then come back in December, and you won’t recognize the meal. I love making new dishes, it’s where my heart is.”
Dirt Candy's Onion Chocolate Tart with Almond Ice Cream
Not one to romanticize her niche industry, Cohen admits her vegetables aren’t handpicked from a garden or market. “I love this image of chefs strolling through the green market with a wicker basket, sniffing carrots,” she says. “I get my vegetables where pretty much everyone in the city gets their vegetables: in a box, off a truck. People already don’t eat enough vegetables, so I don’t see the point in making them sound even more elitist and ridiculous.” Forgoing an idealistic stroll past leafy produce does not pose a problem for Cohen’s popularity, as Dirt Candy has been praised by the New York Times, the Village Voice, and the New Yorker.
"I’m constantly putting new dishes on the menu. Come here in January then come back in December, and you won’t recognize the meal. I love making new dishes, it’s where my heart is"Though she has received her fair share of positive press over the years, Cohen acknowledges the glaring disparity in recognition of women versus men in the food world, women typically receiving less coverage than their male counterparts. She advises other women to “put [their] head down, work harder, and figure out a way to do more with less” as well as to support each other. “If we’re not helping each other, then what’s the point?”
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.