What comes to mind when you think vegan? Do visions of kale smoothies, yoga pants, and wheatgrass dance in your head? Do you think that even a morsel of tofu will transform you into a raw-foods health nut?

As someone who tried veganism and who has many vegan friends, I can promise you this is not how it works. For one, not all vegans are health nuts; you know two popular things that are vegan? Oreos and french fries. Secondly, not all vegans do yoga or wear "meat is murder" shirts or let you know, every five minutes, that they are on a moral high ground.

Yet the biggest myth is the idea that vegan food is an atrocity to the meat-eating palate. A meal without meat or dairy is not a fate worse than death, and it definitely doesn’t have to include kale. Without meat, vegan food relies on spices and interesting combinations to make for an amazing experience. I’m not saying you have to go cold turkey (ha) and give up bacon, but here’s a list of meat-eater approved spots where you’ll realize seitan isn’t satan.

Plus, avocado is literally in everything, so how could this not be worth trying

by CHLOE. (185 Bleecker St) 

If you haven’t tried by CHLOE yet, stop what you’re doing and go. Like, right now.

Dubbed the fastest growing vegan burger chain by Forbes, this spot has a location in L.A., planned locations in Boston, and four (soon to be six) locations here in NYC. The best one is in the West Village because it has sweets including matcha chocolate babka, cupcakes, and some bangin’ cinnamon rolls.

The regular menu is equally as appetizing: avocado-pesto pasta, a whiskey BBQ portobello mushroom sandwich, and the classic tempeh burger with special sauce are just a few of the highlights. The sweet potato ‘fries’ are great, but my go-to order is the pesto meatball sub. Life-changing, trust me.

Franchia (12 Park Ave)

Fact: Asian fusion is never a bad idea. Franchia is the sister restaurant to Hangawi, another renowned NYC vegan restaurant, but is luckily a) cheaper, b) more casual, and c) tastier (subjectively).

It has everything from kimchi dumplings to vegan crab sushi rolls to noodles and everything in between. Lunch specials are a bargain at $12, and a personal favorite is the Singapore curry angel hair, which comes with stir-fried ‘lobster’ balls and vegetables.

Candle Cafe (1307 3rd Ave)

While the cafe started as a juice bar called Healthy Candle in 1984, it has been an Upper East Side vegan establishment since 1994. A farm-to-table, organic restaurant, this place can come off as a bit preachy, but the sandwiches, salads, and sides here are scrumptious.

Their truffle fries are incomparable, but you also can’t go wrong with the pomegranate seitan brisket or the portobello black bean burger. All sandwiches come with house-made aioli (fancy mayo), and their signature smoothie, the Candle Vice, is a must-try concoction of pineapple, mango, passion fruit, banana, and coconut.

Beyond Sushi (62 W 56 St)

Beyond Sushi has a few locations, but this is the best because it gives you reason to eat your purchases in Central Park. Great for meals on the go, this spot shows that sushi is much more than spicy tuna.

The flavors are unconventional but enjoyable, and if you’re not a fan of tofu, you’re in luck, because the focus is instead on the freshest fruits and the vegetables. They have soup, dumplings, salads, wraps, noodles, and of course, rolls, all which come with some awesome sauces.

A personal favorite is the Smokey Tom dumplings plate, which are little dumplings full of sun-dried tomato, spinach, charred onions, and smoked butternut squash topped with lemon panko, sumac, and parsley. Yum!

Vspot (12 St Marks Place)

Latin fusion is another thing you can never say no to. Vspot’s St Marks location has been a neighborhood institution since 2006, situated right next to a yoga studio (very fitting).

The East Village location is the largest, and offers vegan versions of empanadas, arepas, burritos, tostadas, tacos, and quesadillas, along with wraps, burgers, and sides. Vspot’s vegan cheese is a little suspect for dairy lovers, but their ground seitan is some of the best. The bandeja paisa is a solid choice, with grilled seitan ‘carne’ molida, tofu, rice and beans, avocado, maduros and arepas. The avocado fries are also insanely addictive.

Angelica Kitchen (300 E 12th St)

A casual and cozy restaurant, Angelica Kitchen holds the title as the first organic vegan restaurant in NYC, as it was established in 1976.

With an extensive menu and tons of specials, there is no bad choice, from dragon bowls to norimaki to the tempeh reuben sandwich and everything in between.

My recommendation? The lasagna. This is one vegan place that knows its way around cheese. The brown-rice noodle lasagna is stuffed with peppers, spinach, eggplant, tofu ricotta, and squash, and covered in a sweet tomato-basil sauce. Get it!

Erin McKenna’s Bakery (248 Broome St)

This is the cutest little vegan bakery you’ll ever see. With flowers in the window and fairy lights strewn about, it’s clear that the magic of the place isn’t just contained to the products.

Since 2005, McKenna has been serving up soy-free vegan cupcakes, donuts, cookies, pies, soft serve, loaves, muffins, brownies, and cinnamon buns. All products are non-GMO, but before labels start to put you off, you need to try the banana chocolate chip loaf. You’re welcome in advance.

Peacefood Cafe (460 Amsterdam Ave)

Okay, this place was founded on a moral high ground, but we can forgive them because of how great the food is. The spot first opened on the Upper West Side in 2009 and has since opened a downtown location.

Offering everything from raw foods to dumplings to ‘cheese’ cake, the star of the show is their special entrees, which includes an amazing vegan linguine and clam sauce. And fun fact: it’s all kosher!

Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. (25 E 17th St)

Another Chloe, but this has nothing to do with burgers. While Chloe’s started because of a desire for a healthier, guilt-free dessert, you’ll be surprised at how indulgent the soft serve tastes.

All that goes in is fruit, water, and a little cane sugar, and what comes out ranges from strawberry to apple to mango in flavor. The toppings bar is almost fully vegan, and the shop even makes vegan waffles, vegan sundaes, and ice pops.

I recommend the banana pop dipped in warm peanut butter and covered in dark chocolate chips. Treat yo’ self–it counts as a serving of fruit! Also, don't miss their pretzel cone, pictured above. 

Terri (100 Maiden Ln)

Terri is a popular on-the-go vegan spot with three locations in NYC, but instead of fast food, it's thought of more as food, fast.

Inspired by the owners’ own mothers, Terri is known for both delicious and nutritious food. The menu offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies, juices, sides, and of course, desserts.

And while their shakes are a bit pricy, their Butterfinger milkshake can’t be beat, as it was counted as one of the seven best milkshakes in NYC, regardless of being vegan. If the dense shakes, which also include java, chocolate strawberry, and other flavors, don’t leave you too full, then get the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, made with seitan, cole slaw, and pickles.