8 reasons it's great to be vegan in Portland

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 2016 was "The Year of Vegan." As part of that year-long observation, PETA ranked the top vegan-friendly cities in the U.S. - and Portland, Oregon came out on top.

It's pretty hard to find a more reputable and esteemed organization to make recommendations on all-things-vegan than PETA, the most well-known of animal anti-cruelty advocates.

Why would PETA make this conclusion? Here are eight possibilities.

You don't have to explain what a vegan is to (most) Portlanders

"You're a WHAT?" Vegans will never (most likely!) hear these words in Portland.

This may be the best reason for being vegan in Portland: you can quit explaining yourself, what you eat (or wear or use, for that matter) and why. Even if the rest of us don't practice veganism, we GET it.

Indeed, to be a true vegan is much more than an attention to what one eats or even wears. It's really a lifestyle. And when you want to adhere to a lifestyle, it's important to have support for it. Portland has your vegan back - in spades.

Food Fight! Grocery (an all-vegan establishment) has an online Portland Vegan Guide that will be of great assistance to any vegan visiting (or living) in Portland. The guide also provides links - in true non-competitive, the-more-the-merrier Portland fashion - to other guides in the area. Regularly updated, this is a (nearly) comprehensive clearinghouse of the region's vegan info.

Great vegan restaurants, cafes and food carts
Young happy man enjoying in a healthy meal.BraunS via Getty Images

You will not want for vegan eateries in Portland. From nicer restaurants and cafes to delis and food carts, vegan options abound. Among those in the "fine dining" category (although still Portland Casual) are Farm Spirit, Harvest at the Bindery, and Blossoming Lotus. There are a host of cafes, delis and food carts as well.

March is Portland Dining Month and - lucky for you! - both Harvest and Blossoming Lotus are participating in the month long event. During March, you can enjoy a three course meal at either establishment for $29 prix fixe. Visit the website for details on the menu and how to reserve a table.

Many, if not most, Portland restaurants offer vegan options

So if you're dining with a group, the consensus may not be to go the completely vegan route. Not to worry. Many, many non-vegan establishments offer vegan alternatives.

The Food Fight! guide (mentioned above) has a list of spots that offer great vegan options along with vegetarian and carnivorous selections. Vita Cafe, in the heavenly Alberta Arts District, is a prime example. All vegan dishes - and there are many - are clearly marked on its menu. Prices are super reasonable, food is great, people friendly. They offer a full bar as well and a vegan Bloody Mary.

Yummy vegan bakeries
vegan bakeryDenver Post via Getty Images

Everyone loves baked goods - but they're typically filled with egg/dairy land mines for vegans.

Not to worry. Vegan bakeries are blossoming in Portland and rival their non-vegan counterparts. Alberta Street's Back to Eden Bakery is one of the best, offering a significant selection of delish vegan/gluten-free baked goods as well as soft serve (vegan) ice cream and a gift shop.

Vegan bars

Nowhere in the Vegan Lifestyle Guidebook (don't search for this - I just made it up) does it say that vegans can't party. Quite the contrary. And Portland will provide you with plenty of choices of bars/pubs that offer vegan fare so you won't have to drink on an empty stomach.

Consider The Bye and Bye, also in the Alberta Arts District. Eclectic vegan food, good music and, of course, drinks.

(Hmmm... Sounds like an Alberta Street afternoon/evening? First Vita, then Back to Eden for dessert - and The Bye and Bye for drinks. As you saunter from place to place you'll experience one of Portland's greatest neighborhoods, replete with unique shops, art galleries, eateries and more. Enjoy!)

The world's first vegan mini-mall

Vegans - like other humanoids - are not above hyperbole. This is not so much a "mall" as it is a gathering of several vegan establishments adjacent to each other. Nevertheless, in 2015 four vegan-o-centric businesses joined forces to create what's been dubbed the world's first vegan mini-mall.

Along with Food Fight! (the all-vegan grocery store mentioned above) the "mall" includes Herbivore (a clothing store), Sweetpea Baking Company and - wait for it - Scapegoat Tattoo. (Scapegoat guarantees no animal byproducts in its inks or tracing paper.)

Countless miscellaneous and sundry vegan businesses

The sheer scope of vegan-friendly business in Portland is astounding. There's Missionary Chocolates, an all vegan and gluten-free chocolate emporium. And there's Pie Footwear where you can shop for animal-free shoes. There are, indeed, vegan varieties of all of the following businesses (and more): a B&B, beauty and barber shops, sushi, furniture store, cheese shop, summer camp, caterer, acupuncture - and more. Your complete vegan needs are addressed in Portland.

A vegan strip club (no, really)
Hot young woman in sexy lingerie performs sensual pole dance.Alexander-Cherepanov via Getty Images

Portland is quirky (a gross understatement) and one of its best kept secrets is that it has more strip clubs per capita than any other U.S. city (not sure how this jibes with Portland's reputation as a progressive mecca but it certainly dovetails with its anything goes, "to each their own" approach to the world).

Quirky meets earthy at Casa Diablo, Portland's vegan strip club which claims to be the world's first (and only?) such establishment. The owner is vegan, all of the food served is vegan and the dancers' "outfits" contain no animal products (i.e. no leather, fur, silk...).

I'm speechless.

Bottom line: Vegans, get thee to Portland.

Marie Sherlock has resided in Portland, Oregon for three-plus decades during which time she practiced law, married, and then raised kids while writing, editing and authoring a parenting book. She knows, loves and embraces every inch of Portland's weirdness.