I have dabbled in vegetarianism in the past, trying Morning Star vegetarian nuggets and the Beyond Burger patty, but I have never been to a completely vegetarian or vegan place to eat. However, everyday on the commute to school, I pass by HipCityVeg, a vegan fast-food-style restaurant.
While 9.7 million people in the United States follow a vegetarian diet, only about 1 million people are vegan. Some choose to go vegan based on their philosophical perspective, out of a belief that animals should not be eaten and using animal products is wrong. Others want to make an environmental change and select the diet to reduce greenhouse emissions. If you do follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you’re one of many in Washington, D.C., the city with the most vegetarians and vegans in the country.
HipCityVeg sparked my interest, and my brother and I decided to try it. Nicole Marquis, its founder, created the restaurant after convincing her father to go vegan when he was diagnosed with diabetes, according to the restaurant’s website. Adhering to a vegan diet helped maintain his blood sugar and motivated Marquis to create an entirely vegan restaurant in 2012 in Philadelphia. Along with their Philadelphia eateries, HipCityVeg now has two D.C. locations, one on 7th Street and the other in the Dupont Circle area.
HipCityVeg doesn’t advertise that it’s vegan — walking towards the building, a glass exterior with a sign reading “burgers, fries, and shakes” is enough to lure in any fast-food lover. It isn’t until you enter the restaurant that you realize the food is vegan. “Plants You Crave” is emphasized in large, black capitalized letters against a white wall, across from a large menu screen.
HipCityVeg’s menu features all-vegan burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, baked goods, and shakes. My brother and I both ordered the “Basic B”, a grilled burger with cheese, special sauce, lettuce, onion, and pickle, as well as sweet potato fries.
“There’s no way this is vegan,” he murmured, taking his first bite. From a big meat-eater, this is a pretty good compliment.
The whole burger was perfectly savory; every component added a layer of texture and flavor. The patty itself was incredible too — you would have never known it was plant-based, although it didn’t taste exactly like meat either. Even the cheese seemed real; it had that saltiness and cheesy pull that you would expect from any good provolone. The sweet potato fries topped the whole meal off — they were perfectly crispy on the outside while soft and sweet in the middle.
On a scale of 1 to 10, HipCityVeg deserves a solid nine. The food was great, but the experience itself was even better. I was able to recognize the struggle of Marquis’s father, and the shift that he had to make in his life, and I felt fulfilled and inspired about what I ate.
Whatever your stance on veganism is, it’s sometimes important to try something new and make little changes in your life to help the earth. Greenhouse gases caused by the production of food can be reduced most by vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Water is conserved and soil is cleaner when livestock is not raised and doesn’t use these substances.
Whether or not you decide to help the earth by eating a few plant-based meals a week or seeking out the most sustainable poultry, you may realize that these little things will make you feel good about yourself and your impact. Either way, HipCityVeg is a surprisingly delicious place to eat.