I love this post from Dave Rolsky at Compassionate Action for Animals, in which he outlines the philosphy behind VegGuide.org and how it differs from competing national and local guides:

The goal of the guide is provide a tool that helps makes it easier to live a more animal-friendly life. 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.


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.


Since the guide is all about making it easier to be veg, we try to consider users’ needs first. If it’s useful to users, it’s good. Otherwise it’s not.

And most importantly:

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.

VegGuide uses a creative commons license to make it’s content available “downstream” – for us in other local sites, for use in mashups (like this Yahoo! Pipe I put together which can be easily cloned for other area), or for use in whatever other thing-we-don’t-yet-know which comes up six months from now.

I like it so much I’ve been working on contributing back – some mapping code to improve the leverage of GoogleMaps APIs with custom icons by category, by level of veg-friendliness, etc. It’s work in progress but I hope to be done in the next few weeks, and it will roll out with the next major rev of the site.

I always now check VegGuide along with whatever local guides exist, and I’d encourage you all to do the same – we need better coverage of all areas, not just isolated local spots.