There’s a reason they call New Jersey the Garden State.
A recent study by Total Shape ranked New Jersey sixth on its list of most vegan-friendly states in the country. The fitness-focused website looked at the vegan population of each state, the number of vegan restaurants per state, vegan meetup groups, and animal welfare groups.
Of the 50 states, New Jersey came in first for the biggest selection of vegan restaurants. With 29 vegan dining choices per 1 million people, New Jersey ranked well ahead of second-place Hawaii’s 19 vegan restaurants.
One of our 29 vegan eateries is House of Flavor in Bayonne, opened by Melissa Drullard and her fiancé in 2017. The pair creates plant-based dishes with a Dominican twist. In 2019, House of Flavor snagged a spot on our Best Vegan Restaurants list.
With a lack of vegan options in their area, it “just made sense” for the pair to open their own plant-based eatery, Drullard says.
“When we opened, we saw veganism as the future,” she adds. “Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of places open up. Vegan options are going to continue to grow.”
What spurred your decision to open a vegan restaurant?
Melissa Drullard: When we had our first son, he refused to eat meat. After his birth, we started looking into veganism, plant-based and things like that. We all started veganism at the same time. My fiancé and I were starting to put a restaurant together and we thought, “We might as well do vegan because that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Are most of your customers vegans, or is there a mix?
We have a good mixture of people because what we make doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be vegan to enjoy it. We get a lot of people who are switching to vegan but don’t want to go too far out of their comfort zone.
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What kind of dishes do you offer?
Our restaurant is 100 percent vegan but offers a little bit of everything. I try to use a bit of my culture, my Dominican background, to bring diversity to our dishes. We have a ton of meals, salad bowls, shakes, juices. Everything!
Since opening, have you seen more vegan options pop up?
Yes, I’ve seen a lot more places open in neighboring cities. When we first started veganism, we really didn’t have a lot of places to go out and eat. Now, there’s a variety of places you could go to, and a lot of restaurants now have vegan options.
Do you think vegan options in NJ will continue to grow?
Absolutely. I want everyone to know that it’s always going to be bigger than food. It’s important for people to know what they’re putting in their bodies. You should always take care of yourself. We try to share that with our customers.