WalletHub recently released a list of the most vegan and vegetarian-friendly cities in the country and Orange County got a spot near the top with Anaheim ranking No. 12.

Despite the increasing popularity of plant-based diets, there are still cities in America where it can be a challenge to find a restaurant that has vegetarian options or a grocery store that carries specialty items like plant-based milks and non-dairy cheeses.

In attempt to determine the cities most accommodating to vegans and vegetarians, WalletHub compared cities affordability, diversity, accessibility and quality.

“[Anaheim has] 25 million visitors and they all have special dietary needs. There are a lot of options and people are very accommodating,” said Lucille Kring, mayor pro tem of Anaheim, who has been vegan for about a year and a half.

You can go to almost any restaurant in Anaheim and find something vegan on the menu. There are also a number of restaurants like Healthy Junk and True Seasons Organic Kitchen where everything is vegan.

Even Disneyland has started accommodating vegan park-goers by adding many plant-based items to their menus. As a result, they were named PETA’s “Most Vegan Friendly Amusement Park” earlier this year.

Veganism is on the rise and as more studies are released supporting the idea it’s beneficial for your health and for the environment, more people are moving toward a plant-based diet than ever before.

“One of the greatest health benefits [of the vegan diet] is we can reduce the risk of heart disease and it’s high in fiber which [lowers the risk] of diabetes and obesity,” said Joycelyn Peterson, a registered dietitian nutritionist and director of Nutritional Sciences at Morgan State University.

The top recommendation for someone interested in trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet is to ensure they are getting enough essential nutrients to properly fuel their body. That is the greatest concern with a vegan diet, but now that vegan food is so accessible it shouldn’t be a challenge like it was in the past, Peterson said.

“I personally think everybody should try veganism at least once. Just try it, maybe twice a week don’t have meat. It’s healthier for you, it’s healthier for the planet,” Kring said.

There are many resources now that previously did not exist.

People interested in veganism no longer have to see a dietitian to learn how to maximize nutrition intake. There are documentaries about health and nutrition, information from credible sources on the internet, and there are classes that are easily accessible.

Nutrition Essentials is a new class presented by Pirates’ Cove and hosted by Dietetic Intern Doran Kozai. Every Wednesday this semester from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. they are inviting students to Journalism Room 108 to learn about nutrition. For more information, students can reach out to Pirates’ Cove at (714) 432-6892.

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