Going Vegan: Finding the Top Vegan Restaurants in Indianapolis

Man with plant at Indy VegFest in Indianapolis

Photo courtesy of Jade Eliza Media

People often think that a vegan diet means missing out on good food. But the truth is that you can find delicious vegan restaurants all across Indianapolis!

Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of celebrating my “veganniversary,” marking five whole years of vegan living. When I first went vegan, I made the decision practically overnight. I went entirely cold-turkey (or cold-tofu?)—and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! 

But at the time, I never even considered whether Indianapolis had a vegan community. I hadn’t done any research on local vegan businesses, and I barely knew where to start. 

Lucky for me, Indy has a thriving vegan scene filled with delicious food and kind people! 

Over the past five years, I’ve gotten involved in the community and discovered wonderful people and places across the city. There’s a wide variety of food options suitable for both vegan and vegetarian diners. And Indy’s supportive community fuels a diverse selection of vegan-friendly businesses.

Now, I know all the ins and outs of Indy’s vegan food scene. So, let me be your guide to good food and introduce you to my favorite vegan restaurants in Indianapolis!

What is veganism anyway? 

If you’re new to the concept of veganism, let me quickly explain what it means to “go vegan!” There are a lot of misperceptions about veganism, but it’s actually simpler than you might think. 

Veganism is a lifestyle that avoids using animal ingredients or processes that harm animals. So, being vegan means that we choose not to buy or consume products from animal sources. That means no meat, milk, eggs, or cheese. But it also includes things like leather or silk. 

Conversations about veganism usually start like this, talking about the things we can’t eat. But I like to focus on the things we can do and why we choose to do it. For me, I initially chose to be vegan for the health benefits. Some people are vegan for animal welfare reasons, while others hope to lessen the strain of animal agriculture on our environment. 

No matter the rationale, veganism is a passionate cause for many people—myself included. We understand that how we spend our dollars is our voice in the economy. So, we choose to support healthy, local, eco-friendly businesses that share our values. That’s why the Indy vegan community feels like family! Everyone cares about doing our part to make Indianapolis a better place.

Photo Opportunity at VegFest 2019

Photo courtesy of Jade Eliza Media

Indy VegFest connects you with our vegan community.

The best way to get plugged into the local vegan community is Indy VegFestthe place for anything and everything vegan! Their mission is to increase acceptance of the compassionate, environmental, and health facets of a vegan lifestyle through outreach and education.

Indy VegFest began in 2017 as a free, single-day event to showcase vegan restaurants and retailers in the Indy region. And year by year, the event has grown into one of the largest all-vegan festivals in the country! They host a dizzying array of speakers, live cooking demonstrations, and—of course—delicious vegan food. 

But Indy VegFest is special because it’s more than just an event! The non-profit organization behind the festival supports our local vegan community and brings us together. 

Their website is packed with essential resources for anyone interested in learning more about Indy’s vegan community. You can check out their Restaurant Guide for vegan-friendly food options, alongside a curated Google Map with all of their locations. They also feature various vegan recipes, resources for helping animals in Indiana, and the annual Vegan Best of Indy awards! 

As a former board member, I was—and continue to be—impressed with the countless volunteer hours that go into growing our community. This dedication is a huge part why Indy VegFest helps build our reputation as a world-class city for events and conventions! 

Indy has plenty of options for delicious vegan food.

Indianapolis has an impressive collection of restaurants that serve vegan dishes, desserts, and sides. In fact, there are more than 200 vegan-friendly restaurants in Indianapolis alone! 

One of my favorites is Three Carrots—or 3C as it’s known by enthusiasts. Three Carrots is an all-vegan restaurant that started in the Indianapolis City Market. But they quickly expanded into their own brick-and-mortar location in Fountain Square

The space is cozy and inviting, which perfectly matches their menu. They serve heartwarming, savory dishes like vegan mac and cheese and creative sandwiches. And don’t get me started on the deliciousness of their brunch! Breakfast food is one of the most challenging meals to veganize, but Three Carrots knocks it out of the park. You should try their loaded biscuits and gravy—with a rosemary biscuit, spicy pulled seitan, and roasted veggies smothered in white pepper gravy.

My other foodie obsession is 10th Street Diner, located in the Near Eastside. Vegan chef Karen Holmes and her son Will officially opened the restaurant in 2019, and it’s quickly become a local favorite. 

10th Street Diner is also 100% vegan, but you’d never guess at first glance! They do an amazing job recreating the comfort food classics we all love, including burgers, beef manhattan, buffalo chicken, and more. I often catch myself doing a double-take on their 10th Street Burger because the texture looks so close to actual beef. 

And when I go there for brunch, I always get the Monte Cristo: a breakfast sandwich with an “egg” patty, sliced seitan, and homemade waffles for buns. I get emotional just thinking about it!

Three Carrots Restaurant Sign Indianapolis
Vegan falafel bowl at Three Carrots

You can find vegan alternatives all across Indianapolis.

Now that I’ve got your belly rumbling, let me remind you that those are only two out of 200 Indy restaurants with vegan dishes! You could spend years exploring Indianapolis and sampling vegan recipes from different cultures and cuisines.

In downtown Indianapolis, FUTURO makes an amazing Detroit-style VegLord pizza. You can order up some vegan fish and chips at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. And on the Near Eastside, Tlaolli is a staple Mexican restaurant with more than a dozen vegan entrees and sides. 

But if you’d rather cook at home, no worries! Local grocers like Wildwood Market, Georgetown Market, and Good Earth in Broad Ripple have a great selection of vegan items. While you’re out, stop in one of our local bakeries because every good kitchen needs some quality bread!

I suggest going to Native Bread, a woman-owned, gluten-free bakery on the northside of Indianapolis. They specialize in a wide variety of custom loaves and pastries, and all of their items are gluten-free and vegan, except for a few items containing honey. They bake my favorite breadperiod!

Support Black-owned businesses in the vegan community.

Indianapolis is also home to an incredible community of Black-owned businesses with excellent vegan cuisine. Whether you’re looking for nutrient-rich superfoods or classic comfort food, there’s a Black-owned restaurant with everything you could want and more.

One of our Farmers Market staples is Mrs. Murray’s Naturals, which specializes in delicious soups, chilis, and pot pies. At Kei2Health, Trilanda Colbert makes healthier versions of classic desserts like carrot cake, snickerdoodles, and cinnamon rolls. And in 2021, the Black Leaf Vegan food truck became the first all-vegan food vendor at the Indiana State Fair!

You can also find a variety of vegan eats at The AMP, a food hall inside the 16 Tech Innovation District. The AMP is home to Black-owned restaurants like Burgeezy and The Food Architect by Corey McDaniel. He specializes in creative menu items featuring superfoods like sea moss, hemp seeds, and dulse. Meanwhile, Burgeezy is a self-described “vegan burger joint” with everything from burgers to Philly cheesesteaks. 

And if you just need to wind down after a long day, Nicole Kearney’s got you covered. She’s a skilled winemaker and owner of Sip & Share Wines, where she curates handcrafted, all-vegan wines. Her wines range from sweet to dry to anything in between, and her Conjure Zinfandel was even featured in Forbes

This powerful momentum of Black entrepreneurship naturally led to the start of Black Vegan Fest in 2020! The festival went virtual for its debut year. But in 2021, they brought the Indianapolis community together for a day of celebration. Like Indy VegFest, Black Vegan Fest is also a free, one-day event, showcasing Black vegan chefs and creators with live performances and activities for the whole family. 

Indy Vegfest 2019

Photo courtesy of Indy VegFest

Vegan dining means supporting local Indy businesses!

As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few benefits to veganism—from healthy eating to environmental sustainability. But one of the best things about vegan living is that you get to support small businesses!

The simple fact is that there aren’t many vegan chains out there. So, if you’re dining at a vegan restaurant, you can feel confident that your money stays local. 

We all know that shopping local makes a positive impact on our home. It helps our neighbors stay in business, while bringing more prosperity to the entire community. And that means vegan living helps give back to both our city and the world at large.

Besides, I genuinely believe that the best way to get to know a place is eating what the locals eat. And trust me: when it comes to good vegan food, Indy’s got you covered! Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just eating green, Indianapolis has plenty of options for your next plant-based food adventure.