Vegan cheesesteak contest returns! Cast your ballots now

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The 2014 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly winner, from Blackbird Pizzeria. ( Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com )

LAST YEAR, the Daily News inaugurated our contest to find the best vegan cheesesteak in Philly. We were curious to see how many places offered a meatless, cheeseless version of the iconic Philadelphia sandwich.

The public nominated 23 venues, and, in the final tasting event, Blackbird Pizzeria took the honors. Yet, even as the greasy foil wrappers were being wadded up for disposal, cries of "wait till next year!" were heard among the runners-up.

Now Blackbird aims to defend its title as we seek the 2015 Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly. Voting opens today and ends at noon on March 18. One voter chosen at random will win dinner for two at Flora Restaurant, in Jenkintown.

On March 20, at Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill, our esteemed judges will taste and rank the top-three qualifying sandwiches. In addition to naming the overall 2015 winner, organizers will award "Best Newcomer" to the top venue competing for the first time this year. The top vote-getter across all categories will win "People's Choice."

As interest in vegan eating continues to rise, more people are giving these animal-free sandwiches a try. Now's the time to check out the nominees, do some delicious research and let the world know who's got the best vegan cheesesteak around!

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