Philly really is a city of surprises. Before moving here, I knew Philadelphia as the birthplace of our nation as well as a city full of passionate sports fans. Don’t get me wrong, those things are there (and the passion for sports is contagious), but there’s so much more.

 First off, I identify as a casual vegan. I am concerned with the effects animal farming has on the environment, but so culturally connected to meat and cheese, that going full vegan is almost impossible without upsetting many family members. So instead, I am vegan when I can be. And before you judge, there’s no rule that says you have to be 100% vegan—any reduction in meat consumption helps. One of the first things that struck me was how many vegan-only restaurants there were in Philly and, moreover, how good they were. Hip-City-Veg is a Philly-specific chain providing vegan alternatives of fast-food favorites. Their burger is one of the best burgers (meat or meatless) I have ever had. Also, their fries are just fantastic. Another favorite of mine is PS and Co. which has a 100% plant based menu and served me a wonderful rendition of massaman curry. In addition to that, Bar Bombón is a plant-based Mexican-inspired restaurant that has really great alternatives to your favorites. I have taken my non-vegan friends to all of these restaurants and they loved the food they got. There also so many more vegan-specific places to eat here and I cannot wait to try more!

 I also happen to be a marathoner, and recently ran my 18th marathon right here in Philadelphia. And I must say, it was one of the best courses I have run. Despite it being a cold, rainy day, thousands of local spectators came out to cheer on the runners and showcase the unique energy this city has. It was inspiring to see all of these people turn out in support of us and their city which led me to run one of my better races. And there are plenty of other races available here for all levels of running. In May, Philly hosts the Broad Street run, which is a ten-mile run down the center of the city. In addition to that, there is also the half-marathon as well as dozens of 5ks throughout the city. For all of these races, the wonderful people of Philadelphia show up to cheer on the runners, or as they call them, champions—it is surreal.