That’s the thinking behind More Than Salad, a photo-centric iPhone app that helps people find mouthwatering vegan meals in their area.
Creator Dan Friedman has been vegan for 13 years, and he’s seen a lot of changes in the foodie landscape in that time period.
“Thirteen years ago tools for finding vegan food were not what they are today,” he explains. “Although it was possible to get a list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants for a city, there was no good way to find out what was closest to you if you did not know the city well.”
Eventually, Friedman used his programming skills to develop a simple app that allowed you to map your way to a nearby restaurant. As Happy Cow and Yelp added mapping tools, however, he changed the model to make it all about the imagery—a concept no one had tackled for the veg community.
In addition to allowing people to post and find photos of food, the app offers recommendations.
“Instead of figuring out why somebody gave a restaurant one star or five stars, More Than Salad learns your taste based on what you rate and then recommends things to you from people who have similar taste to you. Too many people write reviews based on their taste instead of based on quality. It makes more sense to just focus on what people have in common and recommend those dishes directly. You
just flip over to the Suggested tab and MTS will tell you what other people with your taste liked in the area.”
An Android version is in the works, once a larger community of iPhone users have been established with the current app. Droid users shouldn’t despair, though.
“I do have a website version coming out in the next three months or so which will provide all the functionality of the app through a website,” Friedman says. “That should be a good partial solution for people who really want to use More Than Salad but do not have an iPhone.”
Thus far, the app has just under 4,000 photos, spread out over about 300 cities and 30 countries. More Than Salad is also sponsoring author Kristin Lajeunesse’s (of Will Travel for Vegan Food) book tour, so the plant-based foodie is adding a lot of photos in the cities she visits. Friedman has also added a lot of his own photos, and encourages vegans everywhere to contribute. The more people who upload photos, the more useful the app becomes.
“One of the nice things about MTS is having pictures of food in places where it might otherwise be hard
to find vegan food,” Friedman explains. “A restaurant may not be listed on HappyCow or Yelp but it doesn’t mean they don’t have a vegan option for the hungry traveler outside the big cities. We’re not just helping you find ‘where’ to eat so much as ‘what’ to eat and these days there are more vegan options everywhere than ever.”
Things are changing, and More Than Salad is helping to lead the way.
“I’m driving across country right now and it’s amazing how much easier it is to find vegan dishes and products than it was ten years ago.”
You can download More Than Salad from the App Store.