When you think of the classic Jewish deli, what comes to mind? Perhaps stacks of thinly sliced corned beef and pastrami, or maybe meat-filled knishes. While these dishes may be the classic fare of the American Jewish deli as we have long known it, there is a new push to offer vegan alternatives for Jewish deli lovers across the country.
Vegan cuisine is trending worldwide as movements grow to limit meat consumption. In fact, our partner news site, JTA, states that there are approximately 300,000 vegans living in Israel. At nearly 4 percent of the country, Israel has the highest per capita vegan population of anywhere in the world. As the Jewish diaspora expands and evolves, Jewish food (and the ways in which it is grown and cultivated) follows suit. From carrot lox to vegetarian brisket, the landscape of Jewish cuisine is changing before our eyes, all across the globe.
But what about in the U.S? Is it possible to have the classic American Jewish deli experience while sticking to a vegan diet? When paying a visit to these five popular Jewish delis across the country, the answer is, absolutely. Whether on a road trip, or a deli-inspired pilgrimage, these vegan delis are absolutely worth the stop, no matter your dietary preferences.
Mort & Betty’s
Mort & Betty’s is a “farm-to-pop up” vegan Jewish deli from Chef Megan Tucker. Featured each Sunday at the LA Smorgasburg as well as LA’s Crafted Kitchen, Mort & Betty’s is devoted to organic and fresh ingredients while offering the Jewish classics.
Tucker states, “Food is a personal thing. It holds precious memories of family, traditions, and culture. Yet, it’s possible to hold on to what food means to us while letting go of animal products. The end result may even be more vibrant, compassionate, and more alive.” Be sure to check out Chef Megan’s cozy, Jewish vegan cuisine next time you’re in LA.
If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area, you’ll want to check out Deli Luhv — featuring bagels with smoked golden beats in place of lox and coleslaw made with chickpea mayo, the deli’s website writes that it features “healthy & environmentally awesome food, without sacrificing taste.”
SC O’Connell Ogorek, an employee of Deli Luhv shared that the deli strives to make delicious and affordable vegan food that is good for people, the environment and the animals. “The Lucci family is known to be a vegan Brady Bunch, but that wasn’t always the case! In fact, founders Silvia and Daniel grew up in Argentina eating lots of meat. Read ‘The Luccis Go Vegan’ Blog Post here.”
Ben & Esther’s
Ben & Esther’s is a small chain of vegan delis, with locations in Portland OR, San Diego, CA, Oceanside, CA, and Seattle, WA. Founder Justin King named his deli after his late grandparents as an ode to his Jewish upbringing.With 5 locations, Ben & Esther’s is about to embark on a nationwide expansion, with the mission of normalizing plant-based comfort food and making it accessible and relatable to everyone. With a menu that features, a reuben made from imitation corned beef, swiss, sauerkraut and russian dressing, you will definitely feel like you’re indulging in the “real deal.”
Sam & Gertie’s
Claiming to be the “world first vegan Jewish deli,” Sam & Gertie’s is absolutely worth a stop when traveling through Chicago. Featuring a delicious “eggless salad” and vegan challah dogs, the deli is beloved by locals and visitors alike. According to their website, Sam & Gerties is an homage to Sam and Gertrude Stuard who both immigrated to the U.S in order to create new sense of home, starting with Jewish culture and cuisine.
On the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Orchard Grocer provides an all-vegan deli experience inspired by the classic New York-style delis of the past. Here you can indulge in house made carrot lox, “Monty’s cashew cream cheese” and homemade seitan bacon. For lovers of the classic NYC deli experience, Orchard Grocer will absolutely provide a sense of comfort and nostalgia.