My Spots: Vern Laird's Vegan NYC

Skating NYC and hitting up the city's best vegan restaurants with Bones Bearings Team Manager Vern Laird.

Before you could get a veggie burger at McDonald's or soy milk at every coffee shop in the United States, being vegetarian or vegan was actually challenging. Locating skate spots in new cities without the aid of the Internet was hard enough; finding meatless food other than French fries was a treasure hunt without a map.

When I met current Bones Bearings Team Manager Vern Laird in the mid-'90s, I quickly dubbed him "The Connoisseur." Laird, a vegan since 1992, not only knew every corner of his home city of Philadelphia, but he also possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of vegan food.

Through years of skating, filming and traveling, Laird's truly earned his nickname. His favorite destination for all things vegan is New York City, a place he started skating in 1990. We linked up with Laird in Brooklyn, NY, on the last day of 2012 to skate and to visit some of his favorite places to eat. While we were able to pack in a lot in a short time, there's a list of places Laird praised that we didn't get a chance to visit. Longtime staple stops include Vegetarian's Paradise 2, Red Bamboo and Bagel on the Square, as well as new favorites Blossom, BabyCakes, Wild Ginger, Dun-Well Doughnuts, Papacito's and Hana Foods.

Here's a day in New York with The Connoisseur.

Bliss Cafe
Best bet: Tofu Club
191 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-2547

Champ's Diner
Best bet: SAG: faux egg and soy-sage on a kaiser roll with cheese
176 Ainslie St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-2743

Vinnie's Pizzeria
Best bet: Vegan Mac Attack: macaroni, ground beef, mozzarella, cheddar, hot sauce
148 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 782-7078

'sNice Cafe
Best bet: Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich: Tofurky, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, gravy
45 8th Ave., New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-0310

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