Philly vegan pizza goes next-level

A pizza with veggie pepperoni and sausage (plus vegan cheese) is seen at SliCE, 431, E. Girard Ave. The chain's other two locations will offer the vegan-meat toppings by mid-December.

Pizzas with vegan cheese are showing at an increasing number of shops around Philly. As hot news goes, this batch has been cooling for a while: Our town had vegan pizza before Blackbird Pizzeria, which has been setting the standard for six full years now.

One thing that made Blackbird's offerings extra vegan-friendly, though, was vegan meat toppings - pepperoni, sausage, etc. Even as mainstream joints like Slice added a Daiya-cheese option, vegans throughout the Delaware Valley still had to be content with cheese plus veggies.

Time to rejoice, vegan pizza lovers! Slice has opened a new location in Fishtown (431 E. Girard Avenue - just down the block from Di Pinto Guitars) featuring an all-organic menu and including options for vegan cheese and vegan meat. Soon the vegan pepperoni and sausage (sourced from Vegan Commissary) will be available not just at the Fishtown spot but also at the chain's Sansom Street and Italian Market locations.

I tried an all-vegan pizza with both toppings and enjoyed it immensely. Don't know how many will prefer it over Blackbird, but I'm betting the many residents of this East Girard neighborhood will be glad, at the least, not to have to trek down to South Street for such a delicacy. Similarly, those who are near the other two locations at 1740 Sansom and 1180 S. 10th can look for the full toppings package as of Friday, Dec. 9. (Those other locations will also be turning all-organic as of early 2017.)

Your best bet is to get over to the Fishtown Slice today or Thursday, and to head south tomorrow.

That's because November 30 is Free Vegan Pizza Day at Uncle Oogie's, the quirky pizzeria whose Sea Isle City location I touted this summer in the 'Downashore Vegan' column. Both of its Philly locations are down south - one over to the east at 36 E Snyder Ave, the other across town at 2119 W Oregon Ave.

Already offering the Daiya-cheese topping as an alternative, Uncle Oogie's will now be also offering vegan meat toppings. As of Wednesday you can get vegan pizzas topped with sausage (from Vegan Commissary), bacon (Mother Earth brand) or chicken (Gardein), and at the risk of belaboring this, ON Wednesday, at both locations, you can get the whole package for free.

Soon both locations will also offer animal-free pepperoni, the sourcing of which is still being worked out. Uncle Oogies will also be stocking sauces and condiments from Vegan Commissary.

Thanks to the forward-looking moves by Slice and Uncle Oogies, we're opening a new era in Philly vegan pizza. Blackbird is no longer a singular outpost for one "extreme" vegan option, just the anchor for a food movement that will continue to spread and grow as mainstream pizza joints see the value in accommodating - rather than turning away - plant-based eaters of all kinds.

For both pizza purveyors and pizza consumers, assembling vegan pizzas with both veggies (of which both Slice and Uncle Oogie's have a rich selection) and vegan meat toppings makes for great synergy: In both cases, everybody wants a piece of the pie.