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Veganism + Activism + Healthy eating = Strong Hearts Cafe

Veganism + Activism + Healthy eating = Strong Hearts Cafe

So, you want to experience the joy of eating chicken without the actual chicken? Not only is this possible, but there is an entire menu waiting for you packed with traditional favorites that are not only delicious, but animal-friendly too.

Syracuse isn’t lacking food spots that offer healthy vegan options, but Strong Hearts Cafe is the only all-vegan eatery in the city. Eating vegan doesn’t mean there’s an absence of flavor or variety just because meat and dairy are off-limits. In fact, much like the keto diet, there are ways to continue eating the same foods simply by using food alternatives.


“Chicken” Salad Sandwich

Two Hearts of Syracuse

Strong Hearts currently has two locations. You might assume their menu is the same at both, but you would be wrong.

“Eighty percent of our menu on the hill is different than what we offer at the café,” said Joel Capolongo, one of the founders and owners of Strong Hearts.

If you’re on the run, Strong Hearts on the Hill tailors their menu to items that are quick and easy to make. If you’re not in a rush, Strong Hearts Café has a menu that serves those looking for more of a sit-down experience.

From the expected assortment of salads, to the Philly cheesesteak sandwich or whoopie pies, both locations boast a menu that is anything but bland or boring. The menu is completely vegan, meaning there are no animal ingredients in any of the food.

“One of their most popular breakfast sandwiches is called the “Egg” Trick Muffin which is like our answer to a McDonalds egg McMuffin,” said Capolongo. “It’s made with seasoned and fried tofu, a fried sausage patty, and vegan mozzarella on an English muffin. Our tofurkey club, reuben and chicken salad sandwich are also very popular,” said Capolongo.


Menu wall at Strong Hearts Cafe

Activism in the community

In need of a sweet treat? Strong Hearts has you covered there as well. Their array of desserts including cupcakes, cheesecake, brownies, and cookies, are made vegan-friendly by substituting dairy products with non-dairy alternatives. Soy milk replaces traditional milk, and a product called egg replacer is used instead of eggs.

They even have a vast selection of milkshakes which Capolonga said are their number one seller. You can order the Rosa Parks (peach cobbler), Cesar Chavez (chocolate, espresso), and even the Albert Einstein (pumpkin, espresso). The milkshakes are intentionally named after people because prior to opening the vegan cafe, Capolongo and Strong Hearts’ other owner Nick Ryan, were activists.

“We didn’t want to lose that part of our identity and history, so we chose to name our milkshakes after revolutionary figures — people who had strong hearts,” said Capolongo. People who had that activist spirit and people who did a lot of positive things to make the world a better place.”

For Capolongo and Ryan, the name Strong Hearts is more than just a literal association to healthy food. Strong Hearts speaks to character and for them, the name is heavily rooted in their activist background.


Milkshake Menu wall at Strong Hearts Cafe

Healthy Alternatives

Not only are their foods vegan, but at Strong Hearts Cafe you can find a list of organic foods sold for those who have dietary restrictions. Whether you’re a vegan for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, or you’re just looking for somewhere that offers delicious food, Strong Hearts has something for everyone. For those who may not be ready to completely go vegan, you can try the gluten-free diet or the keto diet. Even just making a few changes to your eating habits can improve your healthy eating lifestyle.

“Chicken” Kale Salad

About The Author


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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