FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- When Heather Dahman became vegan 12 years ago, she was devastated to give up her favorite foods.
"I was just like 'how am I never going to eat a burger again?'" Dahman said.
But at Savery Vegan Grill, she doesn't have to miss out.
The family-owned restaurant specializes in making vegan junk food, using faux meats and cheeses.
The grill opened its doors in 2018, when Co-Owner Brittany George noticed a lack of options for plant-based folks in The Fort.
"We want to eliminate that barrier. Make things seem normal, let people realize they don't have to give up things they love eating and they grew up eating to go vegan," George said.
Since then, the Summit City has positioned itself as the eighth-best city in the country for vegans and vegetarians, according to a WalletHub study.
Dahman, founder of the Facebook group Fort Wayne Vegans and Vegetarians, says she doesn't have to eat at vegan-only restaurants because many mainstream places have options for her as well.
"I put together a Fort Wayne vegan dining guide that lists local restaurants that have at least two main vegan options," Dahman said.
One of the 30 restaurants on her list is The Hoppy Gnome.
The restaurant features an extensive list of tacos for meat-eaters and herbivores alike.
From beef, duck and mahi-mahi to tofu, and fried cauliflower, Hoppy Gnome General Manager Peter Shuey says catering to all guests is what they're about.
"From day one we've been about people and if there is a group of people that don't eat meat or prefer not to eat a certain ingredient, let's cater to them as well," Shuey said.
But what about folks who want to enjoy vegan food from the comfort of their homes?
The WalletHub study says the reason Fort Wayne ranked higher than big cities like New York or Chicago was produce affordability.
While we ranked last in terms of number of juice and smoothie bars, we ranked first for lowest cost of groceries.
Stores like Meijer, Kroger, Trader Joes, Walmart and Aldi are stocked with meat alternatives that Dahman says won't break the bank.
"You can find the vegan options, the specialty vegan options - faux meats, faux cheese, egg, like vegan egg - at any grocery store," Dahman said.
Community leaders like Dahman already have plans to keep Fort Wayne near the top of the list.
At the beginning of next month, she is orchestrating a Vegan Restaurant Week, which will feature local restaurants and cafes.