Being vegan in Chicago not so hard

Despite what you might have heard, it's not impossible to be a vegan in Chicago.

"It's much easier than most people think it is," said Annie Fosnacht, a 35-year-old Edgewater resident vying to be PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door.

Fosnacht and fellow Sexiest Vegan contestant LaQuesha McClain say the city has any number of vegan-friendly restaurants including Lakeview's Chicago Diner, Lincoln Park's Urban Vegan and Native Foods Café in the Loop.

"There are plenty of places here in Chicago where you can go that offer vegan food," McClain said.

"It's hard in the middle of nowhere or maybe if you're on a road trip, but we're absolutely lucky here in Chicago," Fosnacht added.

McClain, a personal trainer who became a vegan herself about a year and a half ago, said anyone thinking about following suit should ease into it gradually.

"I would say take a weekend, try it for yourself and see how your body feels," said the 32-year-old Woodlawn resident. "All you have to do is try some food, be willing to try some food and have an open mind."

But she acknowledges that at the end of the day, it's not for everyone.

"Honestly it's a challenge if you think about it but it's not so bad," she said. "The reasons why I'm a vegan might be different for other people but if you just try it, you might like it."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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