On March 20, 2014 V for Veg and the Daily News are going to name the Best Vegan Cheesesteak in Philly. Here are THE RULES OF THE CONTEST. Scroll down for the latest VOTE TALLY.

Long story short, you send in your choice for Best Vegan Cheesesteak, plus, if you like, a reason you think it's the best. The first vote each place gets constitutes its nomination, and I will record those and their reasons in full here in updates to this blog post. The 2nd, 3rd, etc. votes just add up for that place, and at midnight on March 11 the top three vote-getters move on to the finals. I will keep the tally up to date as much as possible, but at least every 12 hours.

There are various ways to vote, as the rules specify. You can email me your choice for favorite Vegan Cheesesteak, or you can tweet it with the hashtag #vegancheesesteak, or you can send in the coupon that runs with my V for Veg column, OR you can simply indicate your choice right here, via a comment on this post. It's worth voting, not just because of your sense of civic responsibility, but because one person chosen randomly will win a delicious vegan dinner for two at Sprig & Vine in New Hope.

Although the various ways of voting make it possible to send multiple votes for the same place, why not be a sport and throw one of your 4 possbile votes to your second-favorite? That way we may hear about more places with vegan cheesesteaks. And don't go creating multiple accounts to game this contest - when we pick up on that we'll just throw out all your votes.

Above all, please get out there and have fun, take the opportunity to try different vegan cheesesteaks (if you have no idea where to find one, VegPhilly.com is a good starting point) and make sure you really stand behind your choice as the best in Philadelphia. Hey, it's not stuffing your face with junk food, it's research!

UPDATE 1:45 pm on 2/28 - VALID VOTES

As a reminder, Twitter votes must be from a legit account that was not created expressly for voting in the contest. This was specified at the outset, and we've now had to reject one vote on this basis. Also, as of today, email votes specifying a vote for "Best Vegan Cheesecake" or other non-cheesesteak item will no longer receive a courtesy reply along the lines of "do you mean cheesesteak?" in order to solicit a legitimate vote. If you have the menu item you're voting for wrong, it's not going to count as a vote, and there's enough organizational effort involved in vote tracking without adding more back-and-forth conversations into the mix. Thanks.

UPDATE 2:00 pm on 3/6 - "VEGAN CHEESESTEAK" CRITERIA

Some commenters have pointed out that some of the nominated venues below have cheesesteaks offered as regular menu items that are not vegan, e.g. using non-vegan soy cheese or offering no non-dairy cheese. For this round of voting we are simply reflecting people's nominations and votes for what they consider "best vegan cheesesteak" from venue's regular menu items identified as such. We're not policing that definition for this round.

HOWEVER, please note that the rules for the finals state that each sandwich submitted will be 100% vegan. That includes the meat, any condiments, any cheese included (and in the final judging, a no-cheese sandwich will have a big disadvantage for being judged Best Vegan Cheesesteak) and the bread. Any venue in or near the top 3 right now should be prepared to submit a vegan sandwich for the final judging on March 18. In the event that a top-3 venue cannot or will not do so it forfeits its finalist spot to the next venue on the list.

NOMINATED VENUES

Here's who nominated whom, in the order received, and what they said. (And yes, a "chicken cheesesteak" counts as a cheesesteak)

1. My fave vegan steak comes from HipCityVeg!!! They are tasty, moist & altogether yummy! If I had to pick a second runner up, it would be Blackbird Pizzeria.

- Elizabeth

2.  I don t know if Govinda s Gourmet to Go s chicken cheesesteak will count for this contest, but I ve been enjoying them for years and think their delicious.  If you looking for just a regular vegan cheesesteak I would like to vote for Blackbird s seitan cheesesteak.  Thanks for all your good work spreading the local vegan news.

- Colt

3. I think the best is Citi Marketplace on 13th & Walnut.  Also Govindas.

- Maureen

4. Blackbird Pizzeria

507 S 6th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

- John Haefele

5.  My vote goes to The Abbaye for best vegan cheesesteak.

- James Robinson

6. I vote for Palm Tree Market as the best #vegancheesesteak It's a hidden gem!

 - socs

7. My vote is for @pope1501 [P.O.P.E.] !

- nicmar

8. Fergie's FTW!

- Amy Miller

9. Vge Cafe in Bryn Mawr has the best #vegancheesesteak

- Allison ‏

10. Definitely Vegan Tree on South Street!

- Mike Krauss

11. Mi Lah has a great #vegancheesesteak. I took a non-veg friend there yesterday & she gobbled it right up!

- Marisa Millerick

12. my vote goes to the vegan cheesesteak at  the wonderfully originally named Pizza Wings Steaks at 32nd and Powelton.
- Chris X

13. Carmen's famous Italian hoagies and cheesesteaks in the Reading Terminal has the best vegan cheesesteaks I ever tasted. They are well worth the trip of traveling downtown to get it. When you taste them you can hardly tell that there are veggie cheese steak over a beef one. With all the other vegetables that you can add into the steaks it just makes it that much better.

- James Nuttall

14. I vote for Sabrina's on Christian (extra credit for being in "enemy" territory off Italian Market). Close second is Local 44 in West Philly.

- Bob O'Connor

15. I would say that the best place I have had a vegan cheesesteak  sandwich was at Tattooed Mom's...that's the only place I've been able to try so far.  I am hoping to get to Govinda's soon.  The one I cared for the least was SOS (steaks on south).

- Jackie Savastano

16. How about a whole foods mitake wit #vegancheesesteak from Taproom on 19th @CaskandMouse

- Christina

17. What about Monk's?

- willbarnett

18. Hibiscus
4907 Catharine St
Philadelphia PA 19143

- Jessica Matluck

19. Vegan cheesesteak burrito @DosSegundos 931 N 2nd St! #vegancheesesteak

- Ashley Thomas

20. My vote for the best vegan cheesesteak in Philadelphia goes to Vegan Commissary in South Philly. Their cheese sauce is awesome and the few small twists they put on it gives it an edge,
but still keeps it authentic.

- Matt Hayes

21. Bourbon & Branch in northern liberties!  Delicious vegan cheesesteak!  Soy marinated seitan, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted wild mushrooms, vegan cheddar and frizzled onions.

- Alejandro Carbonell

22. When I want a #vegancheesesteak, I want it from Carmen's Pizza in Milmont. Over 20 years of soy-cheese and beyond. http://originalcarmenspizza.com

- Bardonaut

23. Fino's in Mt. Airy! Looks like an ordinary Pizza shop but tons of vegan options.

- Brody

UPDATE 3/12 - 4:00 a.m.

Here's our final VOTE TALLY update. Wow, what a stunning conclusion to the first round. While 2nd-place  Cantina Dos Segundos generated a strong challenge, longtime leader Blackbird Pizzeria's vote count shot further and further up, finally hitting 300 as if with a ding! More dramatically, former 3rd-placer Hibiscus Juice Bar garnered enough votes just within the final hours yesterday to jump back into third, qualifying for the finals on March 18! A hearty congratulations to our winning Top 3, and to all the great vegan-friendly venues!