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Being an European tourist in New York

Hello you all!

I'm spending a week in Manhattan on August with my boyfriend and there are a few things I'm worring. Well, not really worring but I've been wondering of some things.. I hope you can give me some answers.. I have never been in the United States before. I suppose there is a differense between being vegan in the US and being vegan in Finland.

I suppose we are going to eat often in restaurants, so I don't have to find every piece of food from the food stores. (I also have the Vegan Guide to New York City -book, so I already know many vegan and vegetarian restaurants and other stores in NYC.) I think we are going to make our breakfasts and other smaller meals by ourselves, and this is where I need your help! If I go to a regular food store, do I found food for me or do I have to go to a special food stores?

- What are the things I have to check from the ingredient lists? (Ofcourse I know that milk, butter, eggyolks, casein etc aren't vegan.) For example, in Finland all sugar is vegan, but I've heard that white sugar in the US is not vegan. Is there some other ingredients like that which are not vegan even if one could think that they are vegan?

- The European Union has a list of the food additives. It gives a code for all additives. For example Carmine's code is E-120 and Beeswax's code is E-901. Usually these codes are used instead of the real names of the ingredients in the ingredient list. What kind of system you have? Is it a good idea to carry a list of those non-vegan ingredients with me, when I want to buy bread, ice cream, yoghurt, lemonade etc?

- Are there any labels which tell that the product is vegan? Are those labels common? I mean that if the product doesn't have the label, is the product non-vegan?

- Is there something else I should know before my trip to NYC?

I hope I don't sound stupid with these questions ;) I'm really waiting for our holiday in NYC and I already know, that it is easy to be vegan in Manhattan. I have to say, that it is quite easy to be vegan in Finland also, but I suppose I am going to be in Vegan Heaven when I arrive to NYC! I live in a city that is the third biggest in Finland: Tampere has 200 000 inhabitants. Our only 100% vegan restaurant was closed a couple of weeks ago, so I really wait for all those tens and hundreds of restaurants in NYC that offer vegan food. Our biggest supermarkets have something like ten different vegan ice creams, smaller food stores have one or two, so I am REALLY waiting for all those ice cream opportunities you have there!! I hope the weather isn't too cold during our holiday, so I can enjoy all those ice creams ;)

Well, I can answer some of these for you:

- Regarding sugar: you're right, in the U.S., much of the white sugar is processed using bone char.  You can't tell if it's vegan by looking at the package, generally.  Some vegans are strict about sugar, and some are not, because it's tricky.  All of these sugars are vegan: raw sugar, turbinado, beet sugar, succanat, date sugar, fructose, barley malt, rice syrup, corn syrup, molasses, and maple syrup.

- Carmine and cochineal MUST be shown by name on the label.  This is a new law, so I'm not certain if all products are in compliance yet.  All the numbered U.S. dyes (for example, Red 40, Blue 2, any numbered color) are vegan, as far as I know.  Beeswax will always be labeled as such.

- One thing to look for is "natural flavors."  These may or may not be vegan--it's impossible to tell if they come from animals or plants by looking at the label, unfortunately. 

-  Yes, it is fairly common for grocery stores to label things as "vegan."  Not all the time, but often things will have a little "V" on them.  But if it's not labelled "vegan," it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't vegan.  It's not a mandatory thing.

- If you want a list, here is a LONG list of animal ingredients: http://www.angelfire.com/ar/vegan1/ingredients.html

- If you are buying non-dairy ice cream, most of the major brands are vegan (with very few exceptionsl).  We have a huge post on vegweb which reviews vegan ice creams, so you'll know that any of these are vegan: http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=22710.0.  Perhaps you could write down the brand names or flavors which look good to you, and take your list to the store.

I'm glad you have a guide!  There are lots of vegan places to eat in NYC!  You should go to Babycakes for vegan cupcakes. 

Have fun!  You will love it.   

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There are many many vegan places in Manhattan and in Brooklyn.
You cant go wrong with any really.
KMK has hit the nail with answering your questions.

I really like Franchia http://www.franchia.com/
Upscale and different from anything else in the city.
If you want to take a day trip to Vegan Treats its an hour and half drive from the city. Depending on scheduling I might be interesting in driving out there.

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for ice cream you should go to Lula's Sweet Apothecary - it's an all vegan ice cream parlor that's relatively new so it might not be in your guide book.  the girl that works there/runs it is super nice and you can sample the flavors too.  they have lots of fun toppings like vegan gummi bears, marshmallows & caramel. 

have fun eating!

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wow. I don't think I'm likely to ever go to New York, but it seriously sounds like an eating paradise!

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for ice cream you should go to Lula's Sweet Apothecary - it's an all vegan ice cream parlor that's relatively new so it might not be in your guide book.  the girl that works there/runs it is super nice and you can sample the flavors too.  they have lots of fun toppings like vegan gummi bears, marshmallows & caramel.  

have fun eating!

Seriously.  Lula's rules.  I think KMK covered most of your questions, but in regards to vegan eating suggestions, I recommend the following places:

-Candle Cafe - Cute & delicious juice bar/vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side.  There is a "sister restaurant" called Candle 79 that is supposedly very good, but it's fancier/more expensive & I've never been.
-Taim's - Falafel restaurant.  BEST falafel I've ever had.  Everything is vegetarian, and most things are vegan.  Anything that isn't vegan is clearly marked as containing dairy or egg.
-Counter - Awesome vegan brunch options.
-Bagelsmith - In Brooklyn.  Vegan bagels & vegan cream cheese!!!
-Buddha Bodai - Vegan Chinese food.  Amazing!

I have also heard that BabyCakes is a delicious vegan bakery, though I also have never been there.  Supposedly they have great cupcakes - that are a little overpriced, though I still wish I would have gone there when I was in NYC in May just for the experience of getting a vegan cupcake other than one I've made!

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for grocery stores, most will have vegan staples. if you can, try to find a store called Whole Foods. they have a LOT of vegan stuff and they have a great buffet where you can purchase all kinds of salad/hot foods. whenever i got to NYC i live at WF b/c it was cheaper than eating out (but i don't go on holiday, i go for work stuff!). the buffet labels all the dishes and i think they are made in store. a lot of the food in it was vegan from the WF at Columbus Circle, which is the one i go to. another good grocery store is called Trader Joes. it is smaller but is good for getting snacks like nuts, fruits, yogurts.

good luck with your adventures! NYC is a fun place to go in general and it is very vegan friendly!

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i was 'meh' about the babycakes cupcake, but the frosting is where it's at.  it's crazy good and you can buy a shot of it..

also, pizza plus i think is pretty newish too & you can get a vegan pizza there (it's in park slope - brooklyn)

atlas & little atlas has good sandwiches & awesome desserts from Vegan Treats, like this crazy good peanut butter bombe cake and doughnuts (i think the doughnuts come on tuesdays and they don't last longer than the day cus they sell out)

also- don't assume that just because a place has vegan cream cheese that the bagels are vegan.  one place had 4 different kinds of tofutti and when i asked the guy about a couple of the bagels vegan-ness he told me that ALL of their bagels contained egg.  so make sure you ask.  damn lactose intolerant ppl causing confusion..

theres a coffee shop called the bean that has a super delicious pb choc cheesecake - srsly wow.

teany had a really good tlt sandwich - tempeh lettuce tomato

my friend swears by a place called bennys burritos but i havent been there.

and red bamboo has delicious buffalo wings and coconut almond encrusted chicken - crazy crazy good.

i pretty much just ate on my trip.  then walked and did some sight seeing on the way to my next place to eat.

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Oh, thank you all of all the answers! :)>>>

I have one more question: If I go to a restaurant (or a grocery store) that is not 100% vegan or vegetarian do they know what a vegan is and what we don't eat?

KissMeKate: You had a lot of answers. I think I'm not going to be crazy because of the sugar issue: if I really get hungry and I can't find anything else to eat than white sugar, then I would propably eat it ;) But I assume I'm not gonna be that hungry.. I also think that I'm going to study a little of that animal ingredient list: there were some ingredient names that I didn't know in English, although I suppose those are not common ingredients in products that might be vegan (if you know what I mean..). I've been also reading that non dairy ice cream review - oh my GOD!

eric christian: I checked quickly the franchia.com and I think their lunch box sounds great. I might try that! There is so much to eat and so little time. And that is the reason we are propably staying the whole time in Manhattan. Vegan Treats sounds very nice! But because my boyfriend isn't a vegan I suppose we are not going to make a trip there :(

propinecone: I am definitely going to the Lula's Sweet Apothecary! I was surprised it wasn't listed in that Vegan Guide I have. I think there was another ice cream place that sells vegan ice creams, but I dont't remember its name at the moment..

JessaCita: Thank you for all those restaurant ideas! Baby Cakes is the place to go!

baypuppy: That Columbus Circle's Whole Foods is the nearest one from our hotel. It takes like ten minutes to walk there, says Google Maps.

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Check out the Happy Cow website.  They have fabulous listings and reviews!

My personal favorites are Candle 79 (yeah the pricey one, its fabulous!), Buddha Bodai and Baby Cakes.  Have fun on your trip. NYC is a blast.

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Franchia is nice because of it location, oddly placed on Park Ave a walking distance to Grand Central Station renowned for the architecture. I took my Swedish friends there and then for a tour of GCS... wonderful evening.

Its impossible to see everything in new york in one trip. I would plan a little and let the flow take you where ever, keeping your vegan guide close in hand as you might feel the urge to grab a bite to eat. The girls and I walked a lot and would swing by places if we were in the neighborhood. They were pretty happy with the vintage shopping and dinning. Dont forget mooshoes! http://www.mooshoes.com/
The girls were really impressed as the vegan shoe options, taking home 2 pair each... the currency exchange made them a fantastic deal.

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I have one more question: If I go to a restaurant (or a grocery store) that is not 100% vegan or vegetarian do they know what a vegan is and what we don't eat?

I have never had a problem with this, especially in New York City.  I usually phrase it like, "Do you have anything on your menu that is vegan?  You know, no meat, eggs, dairy, etc.?"  I've honestly never had someone look at me like they didn't know what I was talking about.  I don't think you'll have an issue at all, especially in NYC because it's so veg-friendly.

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I recommend Zen Palate in New York City. It's an Asian vegan restaurant, and their spring rolls are to die for.

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a ten minute walk is nice - that is about the walk i needed to make from my hotel to get there. NYC is fun to walk around.

grocery stores will have labels on everything. the only place you might not find labels is in the bakery section. i know whole foods bakery labels things as vegan (at least the last one i remember going to - they had some cookies!!) you really shouldn't have any big issues finding food while in town.

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grocery stores will have labels on everything.

Really?  I know Wegmans does, most of the time, but Whole Foods definitely doesn't, and neither do most of the generic ho-hum grocery stores I've been to.  Maybe I'm not being vigilant, but I can find a bunch of things on my shelves right now that are vegan but not labelled as such.

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I don't have any advice because I've never been to NYC either but just wanted to say have a great time!

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Thanks mirrya1, I will! And thanks again you all! You have been very supportive and I've got so much information and great tips :)

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I've been back to Finland for more than a month but I have forgotten to write about our trip.. Oops..

I spent one week in Manhattan with my boyfriend and the first thing to say is that one week wasn't enough. We visited Empire State Building which was scary :) We also spent many hours in the Central Park which was huge. The size of the park is almost as big as the center area of my home town. The sound of the (some kind of?) locusts in the trees was very impressive - I have never heard anything like that. I felt quite sad for the turtles in the park's dirty lakes and bonds :( but if I don's think of that, the park was amazing!

I enjoyed lots of tasty meals.. I visited in Gobo (which was the best restaurant in my opinion), Candle Cafe, Blossom Cafe, Good Health Burger and a couple of times I bought my meal from the Whole Foods. The food was great in all the places. The only sad thing was that I was so full that I couldn't eat dessert at all even though I would have wanted to try non-dairy cheesecakes and milkshakes and like everything. I just couldn't.. Gladly I visited Babycakes and Lula's Sweet Apothecary. Lula's ice creams were the best ice creams I have ever eaten - so if you have an opportunity to eat there just do it :)

I think the funniest thing that happened to me in that week was with one dress I bought. There was a lovely dress that didn't have anykind of label on it so I didn't know the prize. I tried the dress and it was so nice that I decided to buy it. I went to the counter and the salesperson didn't know the prize either so she took a prize from another dress which was a lot like that dress I was buying and gave me -75% off of that another dress's prize. So I made a very good purchase. Then later at the hotel I tried the dress again and realized that it couldn't be new dress: It smelled a lot of parfym (and also a little of sweat). And then it had been "scuffed" a little from it's another side and I think it has something to do with shoulder bag.. I have no idea why that dress was on the shop.. Was it somekind of a reclamation or had somebody stolen some clothes and left that dress on the fitting room - or was somebody hiding naked on the store because her dress was missing :D I don't know but I didn't want to take the dress back to the store because I like it so much. Someone may think that this was gross but I think it's more funny than gross.

Ok, here in my blog are some pictures of the trip (mostly about the foods). The texts are in Finnish but I hope you enjoy the pictures :) I really hope this wasn't my last trip to USA.

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that little knit doll is the cutest thing ever. thanks for sharing about your adventures :)

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Oh, thank you so much :) The doll is actually called Kamomilla (which isn't my real name). She is the main character in my vegan baking blog where I also tell fairy tales..

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Awww. I should go google translate it!!

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