Peoria vegans talk food accessibility, health benefits - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Peoria vegans talk food accessibility, health benefits

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PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

Being vegan means eating no meat and no dairy and whether it's to help stop the consumption of animal products or because of food allergies, a lot of river city residents are opting for a meat free lifestyle while searching for restaurants that accommodate them.

"The vegan community was very underground. It was almost like the 'v-word' you didn't want to say it out loud because people will say oh you're different," Riley Greenwood said.

A 2017 report by global data says six percent of Americans identify as vegan. But what about in Peoria? Residents said it's more common than you know.

"The vegan community is a lot bigger than what people think around here and i love introducing them together when they are here at the same time," Greenwood said.

Riley greenwood is the owner of Riley's Cupcake and Coffee Lounge, a downtown restaurant looking to give vegans a place to eat comfort food and connect.

"I think its important for someone in the community to start making the basic foods that we all got to enjoy as young kids but eat it now in a way that is not going to mess up our bellies and is fitting into the diets they have," she said.

Victoria Smith is a Peoria resident and is vegan who changed her eating habits for the health benefits. Smith said Greenwood's vegans meals are helping her.

"It is very hard to find places to eat and i am also a whole-foods plant based vegan which means i don't eat a lot of processed foods and everything that she makes here is all whole foods, all from scratch, she doesn't buy anything pre-made and it really helps with my diet," Smith said.

Smith speculates the rise in vegan and vegetarianism could be related to recent documentaries showing how meat goes from the farm to the table.

"There is a lot on Netflix that people have been seeing and they have been wanting to explore what they're putting on their plates every night for dinner. I think people are just trying to be more aware of the things that they are eating and paying attention to their bodies a lot more, so there is defiantly a demand in the area," she said.

There aren't clear stats of the number of vegans in Peoria yet, but Greenwood said they are a growing community she looks to continue serving.

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