Year Launched: 2002
Reputation Impact Rating: Low
Alexa Rank: 80,977 US
SEO Benefit: No
Advertising Options: No
Claim Listing: Can add your listing and edit your listing.
Users can search for Restaurants by location only. Along the tab you will find a map once you get to an area of a city. Then you can zoom in to find your location or a restaurant along a route. You can also find other store fronts along route or nearby to visit before or after your meal. There is a tab for stats so that you can view restaurants by their ratings. The last tab allows users to subscribe to the local feeds. Anyone can add entries, edit their own entries and leave reviews.
VegGuide.Org is a project of Compassionate Action for Animals, a Twin Cities, Minnesota animal rights organization, in partnership with Mercy for Animals. The site was designed (such as it is) by Dave Rolsky. Our goal for this site is to build a community of users, so everyone’s input is welcome. Please take a look at our todo list before making a feature suggestion.
Philosophy of VegGuide.Org.
The VegGuide.Org site has been around for almost five years now. Sometimes people ask why we made it, since there were already two similar sites in existence at the time, Happy Cow and Veg Dining. That’s a good question, so here’s the answer. Specifically, we want to make it easier for people to find vegetarian and vegan food, products, etc. If it doesn’t make it easier for people to be (more) veg, it probably isn’t right for the guide.
The first requirement of a useful guide to veg-friendly places is that it needs to be big and up-to-date. There’s no way that we could build a huge database single-handedly, much less keep it up to date. It can only be done with many people’s help. If you’ve ever thought about how Wikipedia works, the guide is quite similar, and in many ways wikis provide a good model for what the guide should be. If we want to build a huge database, adding information to the guide must be as easy as possible. When users browse the site, even if they’re not logged-in, they see the links and buttons that let them add new entries and reviews. They’re also encouraged to edit existing information in the same way. We want to lower the barrier to entry and to make it obvious that stuff is added by users, not some magic site admin. You are building the site, all we made was a framework.
Contrast this to most other sites, where it’s not always clear how you can contribute, or even if you can contribute. Take a look at most of the VegCity sites, like VegDC or VegPortland. Any idea how to contribute a new restaurant? How about rating something or writing a review? Other sites do better to varying degrees. Happy Cow does make it more obvious how you can write reviews and add entries. Our understanding is that the submission process is filtered by a human, so there is no instant feedback. We can’t figure out how to add a new entry on Veg Dining at all. It’s not enough to make adding things easy, you also need to provide instant feedback, and the guide tries its best here. If you let people do something and show them positive results (“hey, my new entry is right there!”) they feel satisfied and encouraged to repeat that behavior (“why don’t I add a few more?”).
The guide has no ads, since these are just visual clutter and provide no end-user benefit. Nor does it use much real estate asking for donations (in fact, it’s near invisible, look at the footer). Finally, there is another philosophical drive to the guide, which is to promote the free exchange of information. I use the word “free” here to refer to freedom, not price. The guide is a community resource, and as such we want to share ownership with all of our contributors.
When users submit entries or reviews to the guide, they grant us a license to use that content, but they don’t give up their own rights. Happy Cow has terms that are much too strict, demanding exclusive ownership on submission. Veg Dining doesn’t seem to have any terms at all, which is better than bad terms, I guess, but this provides no protection for users.
Even better, the guide’s data is all freely available and reusable for any non-commercial purpose. You don’t need to ask permission, just abide by the simple Creative Commons license. How cool is that?
So that was our very long-winded answer to why the guide exists. Of course, besides the philosophy, there’s also the hubris. I was convinced when we started, and remained convinced, that we could make a better, more useful and fun site than what was out there. We hope some of you agree. If you don’t, we’re still working on making things better, so maybe you’ll change your mind some time in the future.
History from site
The first version of VegGuide.Org went live in October of 2002 on either waste.org or ca4a.org (I just can’t remember). However, at this time we didn’t really announce the guide outside of a small circle of users in order to give it some beta testing. In March of 2003, the site moved to its own domain, regveg.org (Regional Vegetarian Guide) and we started promoting it publically. The design of the site saw various revisions until February of 2004 brought us what I consider to be VegGuide 1.0. Look at that lovely three-column design in purple, white, and black. Needless to say, this was a look that only a geek (like me) could love. In March of 2004, the site moved to the vegguide.org domain, which we thought was more easily pronouncable and rememberable.
In April of 2005, we released what I consider to be VegGuide 2.0. This was a new color scheme and layout intended to be easier to use and easier on the eyes. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t really know a much of anything about UI design or usability, so it was still not the most intuitive or friendly UI. On January 1 of 2008, we released VegGuide 3.0, the layout you’re looking at now. Besides the new UI, there are various new features, and there was a lot of reworking of the underlying code that drives the site. I hope that this UI is more usable and intuitive.
About VegGuide.Org (vegguide.org): An open, community-maintained, world-wide directory of vegetarian resources, including restaurants, and groceries. Anyone can sign up and add new entries, write reviews, or add to the event listings.