Did you know there’s a strong relation between what we eat and how sustainable we are? Sustainability and a plant-based diet are not only trendy concepts –there’s tons of scientific evidence supporting them. Once you give a second thought to your food, you’ll start wondering which are the top places for vegetarian and vegan travelers. And I got you covered! Vegan travel just became easier with this guide of the best destinations for vegetarians and vegans around the world. All you have to do is to start planning your next vegan vacations!
There are many many reasons to become vegetarian or vegan, ranging from ethics to health. What most people don’t know is that there’s another reason that should be important to us all: sustainability. I’m sure that every traveler cares about the planet, otherwise we wouldn’t go through the effort, time and money to see it. That means that being sustainable should be a great concern.
I already went through tons of advice on how to be a more sustainable traveler –even on how to be a sustainable travel photographer– but the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact is to embrace a plant-based diet.
Sustainability in our food
How are sustainability and diet related, you ask? Simple. A vegan diet will reduce your carbon footprint even more than if you stop flying and recycling, since it reduces the greenhouse gas emissions, global acidification and eutrophication, the farmland usage, and the consumption of water. Also, it helps enormously to stop wildlife extinction, and it could be key into eliminating world hunger.
So even though I embrace a meat-free diet because of ethics towards animals (which is a fancy way of saying I love our furry friends, so I cannot eat them!), my decision got even stronger when I researched all the other bright sides it has, especially on the environment.
How is meat hurting our environment?
In few words, forests are being cut to grow crops to feed farmed animal. All their manure release greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, together with the ones produces by processing, transporting, and storing their meat (like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide). Since forests are the ones that absorb greenhouse gases, this is a vicious circle. Massive amounts of water are also needed to grow these crops.
Nowadays 26% of global emissions come from food, and 58% of food emissions come from animal products according a study of Prof. Poore from the University of Oxford. This means that cutting meat and dairy products could reduce a person’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73%.
According to a study of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, since the 1960s, world meat production has quadrupled, and they predict that by 2050 world meat production will have almost doubled. More animals will mean more crops and water, so less forests, with two devastating consequences: more greenhouse gases and the destruction of wildlife habitats, which leads to endanger or extinct them.
If everyone adopted a plant-based diet global farmland use could be reduced by 75% (an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined), which could be mainly reforested and partially used to feed the entire world population.
As for the use of water, a good reference is that 214 liters are needed to produce a kilo of tomatoes, while it takes 15415 liters (!) to produce a kilo of beef. Considering the vast draughts that we’re witnessing worldwide, this is a huge waste of resources.
The proteins we receive from animal when we eat them comes from the plants they eat, so why not skip the intermediary? In this regard Prof. Poore’s study stated that “converting grass into meat is like converting coal to energy. It comes with an immense cost in emissions”, and what’s worse, it has no benefits for our health –actually, quite to the opposite!
I know this sounds intimidating to meat eaters, since giving meat up might sound impossible. What you can do is to slowly transition. Simply adopt a meatless day or two in a week. This will contribute greatly –to the environment, to your health, and to the animals’ well-being!
Most vegetarian and vegan friendly places in the world
Since a meat-free diet is seriously important, I decided to compile a list with the top destinations for vegetarian and vegan travelers –the easiest countries or cities to eat vegan or vegetarian. My personal favorites are Georgia and Poland. I also asked a group of fellow travel bloggers for their recommendations on the best places for veggie-lovers, and I was surprised by the answers. I was expecting India, Nepal, and some European destinations, but it brought me so much happiness to see that in places I’ve been to and where I struggle to find food, now there’s a thriving vegan scene. I was also thrilled to see many places I would have expected to be meat oriented are pushing into plant-based options.
Now I feel I need to revisit many places and add some new ones to my travel experiences bucket list. Hope this post inspires you too, since nowadays being a veggie eater on the road is easier than ever before!
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
Many people who’ve visited Mozambique will try to tell you that it’s “impossible” to be vegan or vegetarian there. That’s because they’re thinking about all the seafood that’s marketed to tourists in the country. But the secret to finding great veggie food in Mozambique is to eat like a local, not like a tourist.
Most Mozambicans could never afford to dine in the seafood restaurants that dominate the dining scene in Tofinho and other coastal resorts. Instead, they eat from street food vendors who sell their dishes in markets or on the side of the road. These authentic local dishes cost a tiny fraction of what you’d pay in a tourist restaurant, and the majority of them are vegetarian or vegan.
One of the most popular dishes among Mozambicans is matapa, which is made by grinding up cassava leaves and stewing them together with onions, garlic, coconut milk and cashews. And by the way, Mozambique is a major world producer of cashews, so you will find the highly-prized nuts sold in markets and on street corners for much less than in Western countries. They make a healthy and tasty travel snack!
If you visit the beautiful Mozambique Island, be sure to try the local version of matapa, known there as matapa de siri-siri. Instead of cassava leaves, this version is made from a wild succulent plant called siri-siri that grows on the seabed just off the coast. This gives a new twist to the meaning of “Mozambican seafood”!
By Jyoti & Nirmal from Story at Every Corner
One of my most memorable vegan foods in Africa is what we ate in a small and authentic African restaurant in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. In a country where most tourists like to eat wild game meat, you can easily find the native food of corn mush and green leafy vegetable stew, a staple for locals. The food goes by different names depending on the language. The corn mush is called ‘ughali’ in East African Swahili, ‘Fufu’ in West Africa, and ‘sadza’ in Zimbabwe. The green leafy vegetable is call ‘sukuma’ in Swahili and simply ‘vegetable curry’ in Zimbabwe. Many restaurants also serve a variety of vegetable curries with delicious spices.
This local food is very easy to find and extremely inexpensive, but few tourists ever try it. Having spent many childhood years in Kenya, I made it a point to look for it during our trip to Southern Africa. We tried it in three different place, like Mama Africa in Victoria Falls, which was recommended by many locals. Also, at an airport café in Zimbabwe where mostly locals and the crew have lunch. Another must is Cape Town’s trendy food market in V&A waterfront. Actually, you can find delectable ugali and sukuma in most places in Southern, Western or Eastern Africa.
By Margherita from The Crowed Planet
I visited Ethiopia in occasion of the Great Ethiopian Run, a 10 km race taking place in Addis Ababa every November. I knew very little about Ethiopian food, and wasn’t sure what to expect, so I was very pleased to find out the country is a true vegan paradise! You’ll find vegan food everywhere –most people in the country follow the Christian Orthodox religion, according to which people are supposed to abstain from all animal products twice a week (on Wednesday and Friday), or every day during specific times of the year such as Lent or Advent.
Vegan food is referred to locally as ‘fasting food’ –many people in bars and restaurants speak at least a little English and will understand if you tell them you only eat fasting food. Normally, unless you order something specific, you’ll get a huge platter lined with injera, the staple food in Ethiopia. It’s a pancake made with fermented teff, a grain native to the country, really rich in calcium and amino acids. Injera is usually topped with a variety of lentil curries, plus shiro, a paste made with dried beans and water, kind of similar to hummus but served hot. There may also be other vegetable stir fries, or a salad, depending on the place.
I had excellent vegan Ethiopian food in Axum at Lucy Restaurant, and in Gondar at Four Sisters restaurant –in both cases I ordered the mixed fasting platter, which was more than enough for two people!
By Rai from A Rai of Light
Africa is certainly not one of the first places you would think about when considering vegetarian cuisine. The idea of not eating meat by choice is simply unheard of. Here, meat signifies wealth, celebration, and stature. However, Tanzania, home to Kilimanjaro, has been influenced by various cultures and cuisines, including Arabic, Indian, and Egyptian food and is a relatively good option for vegetarians.
It’s very important to explain to your host or waiter of any dietary requirements. Tanzanian breakfast is simple, comprising fresh exotic fruits as well as steamed sweet potatoes and cassava. Accompanied by chai, it’s a good way to start the day. Snacking is easy with the variety of meat-free options including grilled corn on the cob, chapati, nuts, samosas and bagia. You also can’t miss ubuyu, a dried and coated baobab seed snack.
For lunch and dinner, look out for Ugali and Maharagwe. Actually, Ugali is a national favorite and is so common, you will not need to search for it. It’s a popular dish made from cornmeal, often served with soup, fresh or steamed vegetables and fruits. Maharagwe are red kidney beans boiled in natural coconut milk. Even if you go to a typical restaurant that does not cater to vegetarians, it is common to serve a lot of side dishes and garnishes that are totally vegan friendly.
By Monica from Ahlan Monica
Middle Eastern including Egyptian food in particular has a reputation for being heavy in meats, yogurts, cheeses and well, lots of other animal products! So you may be surprised to hear that Egypt is in fact a very friendly travel destination for vegans and vegetarians. If you’re traveling throughout Egypt, you’ll find the most variety of vegan specific restaurants in Cairo and Dahab. Although there are many traditional dishes that can be found at restaurants in the whole country.
The must-try vegan/vegetarian dish in Egypt that should be at the top of your list is the national classic, Koshary. Individually many of the ingredients in this list seem anything but Egyptian, however it’s the combination of them that makes it so unique. Koshary is carb heavy, made up of rice, macaroni and lentils. Then top it to your heart’s content with tomato sauce, chickpeas and the best part, garlic vinegar and fried onions.
Another essential vegan food includes ta’ameya, what you may know as falafel, but a falafel recipe unique to Egypt. Made with fava beans instead of chickpeas is what gives this delicious treat it’s green interior. Other classic foods include hummus, local bread and lentil soups. There’s so much vegan goodness to be discovered in Egypt if you just give it a chance (and taste)!
By Emma from Forever Lost In Travel
Vancouver is a dream place for vegetarians and vegans alike. There are more veggie restaurants in the city than you can shake a (celery) stick at. As the place that is responsible for starting Greenpeace, Vancouver is a hugely environmentally conscious city. And since vegetarian/vegan lifestyles are directly linked with helping save the planet, you’ll find meatless Monday extended to Tuesday and beyond in Vancouver.
The other good news is that not only are there often vegetarian options on menus, but there are GOOD vegetarian options on menus. Sure there are still places where a salad is about as extensive as the veggie menu gets, but dining in most other places is a little (or a lot) more diverse.
Vancouver has a lot of fully vegetarian and vegan restaurants, like the ever-popular Naam on West 4th, the center of clean-living yoga enthusiast-beachgoers in the city. The food is amazing, the portions are big, and the wait to get in will be worth it. Another of my favorites is The Acorn at Main and 24th. The food is just as pretty as it is delicious. My current favorite is the squash, it’s amazing! Try one of their cocktail concoctions too, they’re just as pretty as the food. A little further up the road on Main Street is Meet, an ever-popular veggie place in the city. There’s a location in Gastown and another in Yaletown, in the downtown area. Their noodle bowls are pretty good.
If you, like me, are the only vegetarian/vegan in the group you might not always end up in a fully veggie restaurant, but fear not, Vancouver has some other great places with veggie options on the menu. For proper comfort food, my ultimate favorite is Burgoo. I still can’t decide if I love their Mac & Cheese or Ratatouille more. Their food warrants a happy dance as you leave, as well as a vow to return. Besides food, Vancouver has many other things to do, and a number of them are free which is great for those traveling on a budget.
(Some of the) United States
By Ashley from Wild Hearted
To try to sum up the United States is near impossible. The landscapes, the cities, the people, and the food are different from state to state. The same can be said for vegan food in the US. While some cities seem to have a vegan spot on every corner, other cities are not quite as veg friendly.
You’ll easily find certain cities on the most popular vegan destinations lists such as New York City, Los Angeles, Asheville, and Portland. My favorite things to highlight though are the underrated vegan destinations such as Nashville, St Louis, New Orleans, or Columbus. You’ll find vegan alternatives to some of the most well-known food such as Nashville hot chicken, beignets, jambalaya, and more in these cities. While in Nashville make sure to head to The Southern V for southern soul food and hot chicken; in Columbus go to Comune for beautiful and striking shareable dishes; and in New Orleans visit Breads on Oak for the best breakfast in town.
By Michelle from Full Time Explorer
Something that shocks most tourists who come to Nepal for the first time is the food scene. While I’d been to enough Asian countries to know never to underestimate a city, I was really blown away by the vast number of vegetarian friendly restaurants. Not only how many there were, but a number of those restaurants were recommended as the best restaurants in Thamel. Even dedicated meat eaters raved about frequenting these joints and some even told me “they didn’t miss meat at all.” Coming from French people, I found that to be doubly impressive.
Nepal became famous with the hippie crowd in the 70’s which has resulted in a large emphasis on vegan, vegetarian, organic and healthy food. The best of these can be found in major tourist areas like Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara.
Some of the best restaurants in the area include Sarangi, OR2K, and Places. But even non vegetarian restaurants like Momo Hut have entire sections of the menu dedicated to vegetarian food making it easy to enjoy eating almost anywhere.
A must try dish in Nepal is the vegetable dal baht which features a plate of rice, a vegetable curry, spinach, a spicy pickle, and a lentil soup. Dal baht usually comes with free refills making it both filling and nutritious. If you’re up for a challenge, you should try eating it with your hands like locals do. It can be a bit messy, but also a lot of fun, and locals claim it makes the food taste better. Some other favorites are the vegetarian nachos at Sarangi and the vegan crème brulee at OR2K.
By Josh & Sarah from Veggie Vagabonds
There is one country with food so delicious I don’t think we could ever forget our time there… We spent 3 months in Sri Lanka, eating all the vegan food we could find, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. In all our travels, never have we come across a destination filled with so much fresh, delicious, varied and affordable vegan food. Even after nearly 100 days on the island, there were new dishes to try for every meal!
Naturally, Sri Lankan vegan cuisine is extremely flavorsome, fresh, rich and spicy. Almost everything is locally grown, and dishes are very vegetable-based, though you’ll also find soy cooked occasionally.
Many of the locals are Hindu and follow a pure-veg diet which means you’ll find plenty of vegan options in areas with a bigger Hindu community. When you start to see Hindu temples, you know you’re close to a pure-veg restaurant!
Though there are literally hundreds of dishes to try, there are some you’d be crazy to miss. Rice and curry is the staple dish, you’ll find it all over the island, it’s cheap, filling, seriously delicious and incredibly varied. We ate this every single day and each time got to try something new, a unique flavor or combination.
Masala dosa is an Indian style crepe, filled with spiced potatoes and so much flavor. You’ll also get some refreshing or spicy chutneys to add to it! Roti and dhal has more Muslim influence and is the perfect cheap eat. Roti is a crispy style fried bread which you use to dip in the lentil-based dhal curry. Jackfruit curry is something unlike any other vegan food you’ve tried. The consistency is so meat-like it can sometimes be shocking! Also, you couldn’t mention Sri Lanka without talking about the fresh fruit – it’s a haven for all things tropical and it’s so damn cheap.
Our biggest tip is to eat where the locals eat, find a busy lunch spot for the best experience. Don’t waste your time with tourist restaurants, they’ll be more expensive, less traditional and less flavorsome. Oh, and embrace eating with your hands –don’t worry about getting messy!
By Nick from Spiritual Travels
Taipei is one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in Asia. It has nearly 300 vegan and vegetarian restaurants listed on Happy Cow, not to mention numerous unlisted food stalls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
Part of the reason for this is the influence of Buddhist culture on local cuisine. Many elderlies eschew meat for religious reasons, while a growing number of younger Taiwanese are cutting down on meat for health reasons, often omitting it from their diet on certain days of the week or month.
The typical traditional vegetarian restaurant is buffet style and pay-by-weight. Signs out front often include Buddhist imagery just as the Buddhist swastika and/or a large 素 (vegetarian) character. Dishes include a wide variety of Chinese-style vegetables and mock meats, and garlic and onion are not used.
Diners load their plate and pay at the counter, then are given a bowl for self-serve rice, with the option of white or multi-grain. Egg and dairy sometimes appear, but when they do, they are visibly present (for example, a creamy looking sauce or whole hardboiled eggs) so they are easy to avoid.
You can find these restaurants all over the city, but I would recommend Three To Vegetarian Restaurant near Taipei main station.
Vegetarians can also find a variety of choices in Taipei’s famous night markets, including green onion cakes and pearl milk tea, while vegan options include deep fried mushrooms, rice sausages, mochi, pan fried buns with cabbage, and stinky tofu.
For modern vegan cuisine in Taipei, the chain Ooh Cha Cha is very popular, while vegetarian Cantonese restaurant Yang Shin serves a full range of veggie dim sum.
To tell somewhere you are vegetarian, say “wo chi su” (我吃素), while vegans can say “wo chi quan su” (我吃全素).
By Ellie & Ravi from Soul Travel Blog
Vegetarian food doesn’t get much better than in India. There are few countries where I traveled, where after a few weeks I don’t find myself missing “home food”. India is one of them. Many visitors forgo meat entirely during their travel to India, and to do so doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. It’s common that families in India are entirely vegetarian, and there’s enough variety to keep you busy eating for weeks without getting bored.
Staples of the Indian diet, regardless of which part of the country you are in, are vegetarian safe. Dal (lentil soup), rice, chapati and vegetable dishes are the backbone of any meal. Panner (home-made cottage cheese commonly found in north India, which is put into curries) is the vegetarian alternative to having a meat-based curry and is the basis of many of our favorite Indian dishes: Palak Paneer (paneer with spinach) and Paneer butter masala.
Note that in India, when you say you are vegetarian, you will not be given eggs. Eggs are considered meat in India. Vegetarian is commonly referred to as “Pure Veg” and in many places you’ll find dedicated “Pure Veg” restaurants, or restaurants that serve everything, “Veg & Non-Veg” –non veg being meat, eggs and fish.
In Kerala and south India the diet is different and more heavily focused on rice, sambar (another type of lentil curry with tamarind), dosas (made from rice and lentil batter) and rice flour based idli and idiyappam.
For vegans, apart from resisting the paneer, the trickiest issue is “hidden” ingredients. A curry might not have any dairy items listed, but contain cream, butter or ghee (Indian clarified butter). Milk and dairy products are considered important in India, so it takes a bit more determination to avoid these. Often, budget eateries will use oil instead of ghee (as its cheaper), but you’ll need to ask if a dish has ghee in it to be sure.
Another ingredient to watch out for is dahi (curd / yoghurt) which is sometimes stirred into curries and served on the side of rice and dal. Indian sweets are also commonly made with ghee, so again, ask before tucking in.
Luckily street food in India is nearly always free from ghee, oil is used instead –the perfect excuse for tucking into a Vada Pav while travelling in Mumbai.
By Arzo from Arzo Travels
Are you looking for one of the most vegan friendly countries in the world with mouth-watering great food? Then Lebanon should be on your list.
This country has so many vegan options that it feels like heaven for anyone who does not consume animal products. Yes, there are quite a high number of meat dishes but, in general, there are many others that are vegan-friendly.
One of the most famous and popular is falafel. Whether you have them in a sandwich or just eat them on their own –they are a must in Lebanon. The yummy falafels consist of ground chickpeas and/or fava beans seasoned with onion, parsley, cumin and coriander and are fried.
Though falafels originated from Egypt, they are one of the most popular foods in Lebanon. Street food is the answer in this case –for very little money you can eat your weigh in falafel sandwiches.
On warm days have some of the refreshing Fattoush –this Lebanese salad is one of the most popular and famous dishes in the country. It’s a “bread salad” where the bread is fried and then mixed with different kinds of vegetables.
And of course, almost everything is served with hummus, which is a dip made of cooked and mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice and garlic.
But there are many more things to eat and try out –Lebanon is surely no country where vegans must worry about starving!
By Marta & Milosz from BackpackersWro
If you are looking for a vegan or vegetarian paradise on earth, we have good news. There is a place where the most popular national dishes are vegan. Almost all year round, you can enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits.
Let’s start with the fact that on the streets of Israel, you can easily buy fresh fruit juice of your choice. If you want to grab something on the go, you can purchase plant-based street food at any time. Falafel in pita bread with hummus, fresh vegetables, and tahini topping is our favorite. For breakfast, we recommend vegetarian shakshouka (eggs baked in tomatoes). It is very easy to make it at home!
In Tel-Aviv, most vegan restaurants, cafés, and ice cream parlors are marked with the “VEGAN FRIENDLY” sticker, and plant-based dishes are always clearly marked in the menu. Don’t miss Abulafia, the most famous and oldest bakery in the city, where you can eat delicious pies and pita with zaatar, sumac or onion.
If you want to try the best hummus, look for a hummusija, which are places where only hummus is served (you can find them, for example, in Jaffa district).
Chiang Mai, Thailand
By Michael from Go, See, Write
Chiang Mai has become a huge digital nomad location, but it still retains a great bit of charm and appeal for anyone wanting traveling up in the northern part of Thailand. In addition to the number of great markets for you to shop at, I personally think it has one of the best vegetarian food scenes in all of South East Asia.
Literally the best smoothies I have had in the entire world come from Mrs. Pa‘s Smoothie Stand, which is located near the main Chiang Mai Gate. She’s also incredibly fun to chat with and will point you to some other places to eat and things to see in the area as well.
There are plenty of additional vegetarian options in town too. Some of my favorites include V Secret Street Food, which is in the Ploen Ruedee Night Market. I particularly love their tofu Thai curry. May Kaidee is not only a wonderful restaurant, it is also a cooking school as well if you want to brush up on your skills. It is located on Chang Moi Kao Rd. They offer some Western options, but stick with the local ones. Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant is my last recommendation. It is on Nimman Haeminda Road on Soi Hillside 3. It offers a changing menu written on a blackboard and you can’t go wrong with anything you get there.
By Jackie & Justin from Life of Doing
After living in Vietnam for almost two years, the best part about this country is eating vegetarian and vegan food. This country practices Buddhism so many people eat vegetarian (also known as “chay”) daily or twice a month (1st week and middle of the month).
There are vegetarian restaurants everywhere, so you won’t have any difficulties finding a place. You can find specific restaurants or look for the small local rice shops that serve vegetarian food. Find the phrase, “cơm chay” in the signs as it means vegetarian rice. For a unique experience, try the vegetarian meals at the Buddhist temples as many offer them during lunchtime.
We suggest that you try vegetarian/vegan versions of phở (noodle soup), bún (rice noodle), lẩu (hot pot), and bánh mì (sandwich). The meat is substituted with tofu, soy, gluten, and/or mushrooms so you’ll get the burst of flavor and texture of the original dishes. For dessert, try chè (Vietnamese dessert). It’s a sweet soup with different fillings from beans, jellies, corn, fruits, and topped with coconut cream.
The best part about eating vegetarian/vegan in Vietnam is that it’s so affordable! A rice plate with vegetables, tofu sides, and soup, or a bowl of noodles will set you back $1 USD. We’re sure now you won’t resist to spend two weeks in South Vietnam.
By Victoria from Northabroad
The word is out. Bali is vegan food heaven! Canggu and Ubud must have some of the world’s highest concentrations of vegan and vegetarian cafés and restaurants and the diversity is truly staggering.
If Canggu is where to go for the hip Sydney-esque cafés with a distinct hipster beach vibe, Ubud is where to go for raw healing foods, ayurvedic teas and spiritual healing. No matter where you go, the fertile volcanic soils of Bali provide amazingly fresh ingredients and the chefs –Indonesians and expats alike– know how to make the best of them.
Eating Nasi Campur (literally mixed rice) is a must while in Bali. It’s a base of rice and then you choose between several different flavorful dishes and add peanut and chili sauces on top. Give Café is 100% vegan and offers the authentic warung-experience (Indonesian eatery) in a more animal-friendly manner by serving lots of delicious mock meats along with their veggie dishes.
While in Bali it would also be a shame to forego eating at least a handful of smoothie bowls. In their simplest form, they’re just smoothies with granola, but here the bar has been set even higher with lip-smacking taste combinations of frozen fruits and healthy powders, served in fresh coconuts and topped with all kinds of nuts, seeds, grains and creatively cut fruit.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By Pashmina from The Gone Goat
Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and Kuala Lumpur, its capital, is a city of diversity with a mix of three different ethnicities –Chinese, Indians and Malay. This means the food does not disappoint. From having a friendly laidback atmosphere to one of the most diverse rainforests in Malaysia, to an exciting culinary journey, it’s almost impossible to not find vegan food in Malaysia.
There’s been a revival in Kuala Lumpur where eclectic taste, the passion for healthy eating and being consciously vegan have popped up all across the city. You will find a healthy blend of local ingredients like tempeh, spicy sambal, basil, rendang blended in to give people a taste of the local food while keeping in mind people’s vegan preferences. Places like Rawsome, with several branches across Kuala Lumpur, serve a wholesome local dish ‘Vegan Nasi Lemak’ and even Sala in upmarket Mont Kiara delivers delicious vegan wraps carefully blending the flavors of Malaysian cuisine.
If Indian Malaysian is what you’re looking for, simply hop onto one of the Mamaks (open-air food restaurant) called Kayu or Banana Leaf joint to try their vegetarian banana leaf rice or roti canai (fluffy bread) with lentils. The basic meal fused with local flavors is what makes Malaysia uniquely different. The reward of being in Malaysia is getting easy access to a wide range of food options and the vegan types are varied, flavorful and heavenly.
My first visit to Poland was many years ago, and I seriously struggled with food. I spent the whole trip crossing my fingers every time I entered a restaurant hoping for a vegetarian filling on their dumplings. And I ended up in a supermarket getting ingredients for a quick sandwich most of the time.
Fast-forward to this year, to my visit number three to Poland. What a difference! I’m not sure if it’s because I went to the south this time, but certainty the third time is the charm. I found more options than the amount of meals I could have. I was in heaven! My quick stopover in Krakow on the way to Tatra National Park turned out to be extended again and again. The city is beautiful and it’s a super cheap destination, but it was the food what kept me around for longer.
All around Poland you’ll find pierogi. This Polish take on dumplings comes in sweet and savory versions, stuffed with spinach, mushroom, lentils or sauerkraut, to name a few. A Krakow classic is zapiekanka, half a baguette with toppings, the most common one being with mushrooms and cheese. You’ll come across it everywhere, but try it in Plac Nowy, where it’s seen as an institution.
While in Krakow, don’t miss the vegan kababs of Vegab, the street food style of Farma Burgerownia Roślinna, the breakfasts of Mo-Ja café, the Sunday brunches at Veganic, the veganized version of Polish classics at Wielopole3, the Middle East inspired food of Hansa, and the custom-made salads of Chimera Salad Bar.
By Kami from Kami & the Rest of the World
Georgia, the small country, in the Caucasus is a vegetarian’s heaven. The local cuisine, one of the most delicious you will ever try, is full of vegetarian options, so during your trip to Georgia you might eat something different every day and still not run out of dishes to try.
The most popular dish is khachapuri –a pastry filled with cheese. You can get it everywhere! It can be served in the restaurant or as street food from a bakery. It’s a perfect thing to grab if you want a quick bite in the middle of sightseeing. There is one special kind, the Adjarian khachapuri, with the egg inside. The best way to eat it is to mix the egg with the slice of butter you will get –it’s so delicious!
Other dishes you can’t miss are badrijani –fried eggplant stuffed with walnut paste, khinkhali –a special kind of dumpling that is available in vegetarian versions too (with cheese, potatoes or mushrooms) and ajapsandali –an aromatic vegetable stew. But the best thing you can eat is a simple salad, with cucumber and tomato. The vegetables are so fresh and crispy, making the salad the best one in the world. Try also the version with the walnuts paste, it’s even better! The local food is one of the reasons why you should visit Georgia as soon as possible!
Interested in the Caucasus? Read my full Georgia travel guide to discover all about mountains, monasteries and wine!
By Sarah from Cosmopoliclan
The Belgian city of Ghent, located right in between Bruges and Brussels, is known for its creative, alternative and rebellious nature. It’s that exact mentality that prompted this gorgeous medieval city to introduce a meat-free day as part of a plan to reduce its ecological footprint. Ghent was the first European city to take this avant-garde initiative over a decade ago.
Thursday was declared veggie-day and not only in the city’s restaurants, but hotels, households and even city schools enthusiastically joined in on the veggie-fun, supported by the city that offered free veggie cooking lessons. Fast forward to today: All restaurants, even the Michelin starred Vrijmoed, offer creative vegetarian menus. You’ll also find plenty of vegan and vegetarian-only restaurants and new ones are appearing on a regular basis. This exciting food scene thrives in a city which is known to have one of the largest low-traffic pedestrian zones in Europe.
Our favorite veggie addresses include Luv L’oeuf for breakfast (mornings and afternoons), Oats Day Long for its creative oats menus and sumptuous banana bread, BE O Versbar for its fresh produce and Madame Bakster for her guild-free vegan cakes (try the Rosalie during spring and summer, it’s delicious)!
By Kathi from Watch Me See
Vegan food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Scottish cuisine. However, it is actually very easy to visit Scotland as a vegan! Not only is there a thriving vegan scene in Scotland’s cities, but restaurants around the country are also jumping on the trend to serve plant-based meals.
If you are looking for typical Scottish dishes, order a portion of veggie haggis. It’s made mostly from barley, onions, mushrooms and herbs and usually vegan –make sure to ask for vegan potato mash or roasted potatoes, and mashed neeps on the side. Many other national dishes are not so vegan-friendly, but luckily vegan restaurants are often creative and put a vegan spin on Scottish favorites.
True foodies must not miss a city trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both have been recognized as some of the best British cities for vegans and there is barely a restaurant that cannot accommodate different dietary requirements. One of my favorite eateries in Edinburgh is Harmonium, and in Glasgow, make sure you head to Platform street food market and try the food at The Hug & Pint.
There are fewer vegan restaurants in smaller cities, towns and rural areas, but wherever you go, you will be surprised to find chefs who embrace plant-based cuisine. Surprisingly, I have had some of the most memorable vegan meals on remote Scottish islands. The hotel on the Isle of Coll has a passionate kitchen team and a bit further south, the chef at the Machrie Hotel on the Isle of Islay is a fellow vegan himself and prepares creative vegan meals to die for.
Another exciting development is the increase in vegan accommodation providers. There is a range of vegan B&Bs all over the country and since June 2018, even a completely vegan hotel in Pitlochry. It is easier than ever to be vegan in Scotland!
By Helen from Helen on her Holydays
I’ve been vegetarian in England for nearly 30 years and in that time I’ve seen vegetarian and vegan choices go from non-existent, to a single vegetarian “choice” on menus, to totally mainstream. Some figures suggest that around 20% of the UK population are either vegetarian or vegan, and while this sounds a little high to me, following a meat free diet in England isn’t in any way niche or unusual. Almost every restaurant and food outlet across the country caters really well for vegetarians, and a steadily increasing number of places have at least one vegan choice. As an example, I’m from a small, rural village in the North of England, and the local pub has three vegetarian main courses to choose from, two of which are vegan.
One dish that visitors to England should definitely try is a Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll. Greggs is a nationwide chain of bakeries, famous for their delicious and inexpensive savory pastry goods. They’ve had vegetarian options for decades (the cheese and onion pasty is a classic) but in January 2019 they launched a vegan version of their best-selling sausage roll. For the uninitiated, a sausage roll is usually made of sausage meat wrapped in warm, golden, flaky pastry. The vegan version does away with the meat and replaces it with a delicious savory filling made of Quorn, and the pastry is fully vegan-friendly. The Vegan Sausage Roll caused a nationwide storm when it hit Greggs stores, and has been credited with boosting Greggs’ profits. The CEO of the company recently went vegan and they’re planning to make vegan versions of everything on the menu.
If you want to it, there are stores all over England (1,650 across the UK) and it’ll cost you between £1 and £1.50, depending on the location of the store.
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By Brianna from Curious Travel Bug
Iceland ended up being one of the best countries I have visited as a vegetarian. I was expecting it to be difficult to find food and even packed protein bars and snacks just in case. To my surprise, it was easy to find vegetarian and vegan food in Iceland, at both restaurants and grocery stores.
Iceland is a very expensive place for food so if you’re trying to save money, you can find vegan sandwiches at almost every grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find that vegan cheese seems to be quite common there.
There isn’t really a way to make traditional Icelandic food like fermented shark, fish, and sheep dishes vegan. That said, the vegan food still felt like it had an Icelandic spin to it. Soup restaurants are quite popular in Iceland and there is often a vegan or vegetarian soup on the menu. In Reykjavik, Núðluskálin has a delicious vegan noodle soup filled with veggies –it was the perfect meal for a cozy winter evening in the city.
Outside of the capital, one of the best vegan meals I have ever had was at Olverk Pizza and Brewery in Hvergerdi. The pizza here is absolutely phenomenal, and they always have a vegan pizza on the menu that changes with the season. When I was there, it was a nacho pizza complete with vegan beef, cheese, and sour cream.
Despite vegan and vegetarian food not being traditional in Iceland, chefs do try to include options on the menu and often include a source of protein like tofu or vegan meats or cheese. It made the trip to Iceland just a bit easier knowing that there are food options there for vegetarian and vegan eaters.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
By Samantha from Sam Sees World
Vegan food has taken over the restaurant scene all around the world. However, the one city that I think is the most vegetarian-friendly place in the world is Amsterdam. Not only are there a ton of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, but the restaurant’s concepts and dishes they serve are unique and like nothing I’ve seen before.
Whenever someone thinks of vegan food, their initial thoughts are about taste. Anyone who says vegan food doesn’t taste good needs to come to Amsterdam because the restaurants in this city make burgers, steaks, hotdogs, milkshakes and much more, 100 times better than the meat alternatives. Plus, the vegan options are much more extravagant and give a food experience like no other.
There are quite a few vegan restaurants in Amsterdam that you should go to if you are craving a delicious vegan meal. I will suggest a few and let you know what they are known for and I’m sure these ideas will get you hungry. The most popular vegan restaurant in Amsterdam is the Vegan Junk Food Bar; here, you will find monstrous burgers and hotdogs, as well as unique options such as vegan calamari and vegan sushi. There is also Deer Mama, which has the best vegan milkshakes ever, they are thick and sweet, and you’d never know they were vegan. Finally, Mr. & Mrs. Watson has the best vegan cheese board I’ve ever tasted!
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
By Lisanne from Weekends in Rotterdam
You read it right, two Dutch cities got a spot on this list. Rotterdam has been a vegetarian friendly city for quite some time. Almost every good restaurant has at least one vegetarian dish. Lately, the vegan way of life is becoming more and more popular in Rotterdam. That’s why a lot of vegan restaurants are opening up in the city and even most restaurants are starting to offer delicious vegan options on their menu.
There are a lot of amazing vegan restaurants in Rotterdam, but my favorite options are definitely Dumbo and Rozey. Dumbo is a 100% vegan restaurant with a very cool, creative interior that reminds me of New York City. This isn’t strange, since Dumbo is named after the creative area in New York, where a lot of artists live. There you can share all kinds of tasty vegan bites together with your friends. My personal favorite are the Return of the Mac and the Dumbolings. Combine it with one of their refreshing cocktails!
Rozey is the first all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurant in the Netherlands. For a fixed price you can order all the vegan and/or vegetarian bites that you like. Even the drinks are included. It’s a great place to try the famous Dutch snacks bitterballen if you’re vegan, as normally this is made with meat. Next to these snacks, there are plenty of healthy options as well!
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
I wasn’t expecting the Slovakian capital to be so vegan-friendly, but I visited on a recent day trip from Vienna and found it to be surprisingly so! First of all, you don’t really need to sniff out vegan options, as many of the cafes and restaurants I passed during my walks around town have signs in the window or on the street advertising their vegan wares.
But if you do dig a little deeper, you’ll find many more options too. I was immediately pulled towards Nobile restaurant in the center of town as it advertised Georgian cuisine. And after visiting Tbilisi last winter I remember how ‘accidentally vegan-friendly’ certain Georgian dishes can be! But it was a hard choice and I’d wished I could have stayed longer to enjoy so many more of the amazing looking food on offer! Even the modest Christmas market had a stall selling vegetarian-only fare, and the traditional Lokše pancakes are a safe choice too (depending on which filling you choose). I also read a sign about a vegan-only Xmas market that would take place in Bratislava later in the month!
This is certainly a city that’s moving with the times and it was such a joy to see how well they’re catering for those who want to eat plant-based.
By Mar from Once in a Lifetime Journey
While Montenegro doesn’t have the biggest choice of vegetarian-only restaurants, you will be able to find plant-based options at every single restaurant. Pre-meal platters and starters are particularly geared toward vegetarians with hordes of cheese options, constantly flowing bread and the most delicious dip made from roasted red peppers called ajvar.
One staple vegetarian dish is shopska salad and was on every menu in Montenegro. This is a version of a Greek salad, commonly called Bulgarian salad, yet they swap out feta with grated white cheese of the brine type. It’s particularly enjoyed in summer when the ingredients are in season.
For dessert you can choose between burek, pancakes and baklava. Burek is a layered phyllo pastry which can be filled with cheese and spinach. Baklava is a super sweet dessert slathered with honey, syrup and nuts, and condensed into a layers between crunchy phyllo pastry. The crepe-style pancakes, known as palačinke, have fillings of all kinds from chocolate to jam and are rolled up like cigars.
By Sandra Papas from Greece Travel Secrets
Whilst there is a perception that Greeks eat a lot of meat, particularly lamb, this is in fact not true and Greece is actually a country with a diet that is largely based on seafood and vegetables.
Meat is quite expensive and generally only eaten by locals on special occasions such as weddings, Easter and various religious events. If anything goat is more popular and pork is more common in Souvlaki than lamb. Either way the food in Greece is plentiful and delicious!
The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the healthiest in the world and in fact the Greek Island of Iraklia has some of the oldest citizens on the planet and is declared a ‘Blue Zone’. Their diet consists largely of goat’s milk and cheese, eggs, locally grown greens and fruit, beans and nuts and sometimes fish. It is a mountainous island and people walk everywhere as well as living with their extended families as many Greeks do. This too is known to lead to long, healthy lives.
There are numerous vegetarian recipes across the country with variations sometimes depending on the region, village or island. Often these recipes were developed purely by what was at hand, particularly during war time when food was scarce. Sometimes a dish can be as simple as Artichokes fried with eggs or a vegetarian take on a meat dish without the meat.
One popular dish known worldwide is called Spanakopita, sometimes simply known as ‘cheese and spinach pie’. This is made of a mixture of cheeses, spinach, onion and dill in between layers of crispy golden phyllo pastry. It is usually made as a large pie or can be made into small individual pies. It really is delicious and a regular meal in our house.
By Kati from Stop, Drop, and Trek
While I cannot deny that Madrileans love their ham, the city boasts a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options. I find Madrid to be one of the best cities for vegetarian and vegan as it hosts many kinds of foods. Therefore, in addition to Spanish meals, you can get Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese which all have many meat free options.
I recommend the veggie burgers at Viva Burger and Sully’s. Mad Mad Vegan is another good option, which is made even better by their ecofriendly policy of not using any plastic. While these are all great places to have a meal, if you’re looking for a place to satisfy your sweet tooth instead, there’s a couple of cafes in Madrid for that! I especially recommend heading to Bite Me Café. The name might not sound all that welcoming, but the food is definitely vegan friendly. The bakery specializes in vegan donuts that are absolutely scrumptious! With all these options, it’s clear that Madrid is a foodie heaven for vegetarians and vegans!
By Annalisa from Travel Connect Experience
Even if meat and its derivatives are the cornerstone of traditional Italian cuisine, Italy is certainly among the top vegan and vegetarian-friendly countries on earth. To the mild temperature and the incredible amount of sunny days that bless the central areas of the country, add the presence of a former volcanic soil: Tuscany, Lazio, and Campania are regions that produce all kinds of fruits and vegetables.
If you love to eat veggies, you can confidently enter any restaurant and ask the staff what are the veggie dishes of the day, they will help you with a choice of seasonal veggies prepared in simple but delicious way, mainly all’agro (boiled and served with extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of lemon), roasted, sautéed with chili pepper and garlic, or even fried with or without butter.
If you want to taste all the vegetarian and vegan bliss that Italy can offer, you should start from the capital city, Rome. Have you heard of puntarelle, Roman artichokes, Roman broccoli, or chicory? All of these veggies belong to the traditional Roman cuisine. Rome has plenty of only-vegan and vegetarian restaurants and bistros, but if you want to treat yourself with an exquisite meal and dessert near the city’s historical center, pay a visit to Aromaticus and Grezzo in the cute Monti neighborhood first. If you prefer to cook at home, just hit any grocery store and get your raw ingredients at amazingly convenient prices, as they are grown locally.
By Claire from Curious Claire
Definitely the most vegan friendly city I’ve ever been to is Berlin. With so many great restaurant choices available it’s no wonder why Berlin is often referred to as the ‘vegan capital of Europe’. The best part about a trip to Berlin is that you don’t have to seek out the vegan food, it’s just there all around the city. Even if a restaurant or cafe isn’t fully vegan, there is usually at least one vegan option available.
The best area of Berlin for vegan food is the Friedrichshain neighborhood. Here you’ll find more vegan restaurants than you could possibly visit in one trip. As well as plenty of vegan restaurants and cafes in the neighborhood there is also a vegan supermarket and a veggie hotel.
During your trip to Berlin you’ll have plenty of options from soups, sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, pastries and everything in between. What’s great about Berlin is that you can still get vegan versions of classic German dishes,
so you don’t have to miss out on trying the local delicacies. You can get vegan schnitzels, bratwurst and even vegan currywursts. What’s great about staying at the veggie hotel is they have vegan currywursts in the breakfast buffet.
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
Porto might seem like a strange choice for the most vegan-friendly places in the world. Admittedly, traditional Portuguese cuisine is not vegan-friendly at all, as almost every main dish features some kind of meat or fish. However, the vegan movement has really exploded in the city in recent years, and it’s now possible to enjoy veganized versions of traditional Porto dishes as well as veggie burgers, vegan doughnuts and vegan dishes from various cuisines around the world.
One local specialty that you must try when you’re in Porto is the francesinha. This is a sandwich filled with a variety of meats, with a tomato-and-beer-flavored sauce poured over the top. It’s eaten with a knife and fork and typically served with French fries, which are dipped into the sauce. Several restaurants in town offer a vegan version, but the place that’s most highly regarded among local vegans is Casanova. The francesinha here is certainly a hearty meal that will keep you fueled for a full day of sightseeing, and the staff will even bring you an extra helping of sauce for your fries.
Another great place to try local specialties in a vegan version is Moment’Um, just a few steps away from the Campanhã train station. Here you can enjoy pataniscas, which are fritters that normally include codfish but are made here with vegetables instead. And don’t leave without tasting one of their vegan Portuguese pastries. There are a few places around town that offer a vegan version of the famous pastéis de nata, but Moment’Um is the only place that offers lesser-known Portuguese sweets such as pão de Deus or cavacas de Resende.
By Marco from Travel-Boo
Given Portugal’s love of meat, fish and an endless array of egg-yolk based desserts, you may be forgiven for thinking that it would a vegan or vegetarian traveler’s worst nightmare to visit. Yet, I’m here to tell you on the contrary, that Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon, should in fact be top of your list when it comes to vegan and vegetarian places to visit (and that’s why two Portuguese cities made it to this list!).
There has been a significant increase in the number of veg friendly restaurants and stores that have sprung up across the city in recent years. Some of my favorites include Ao 26 Vegan Food Project in Chiado, Veganapati in downtown Baixa, Água no Bico in the up and coming Sao Bento and Las Vegan in Arroios, to name but a few.
But of course, there are many more options available. In fact, searching on the Zomato restaurant app you can quite easily filter for vegetarian or vegan options, with many great selections on offer. If you’re headed to the trendy and popular TimeOut Market (Mercado de Ribeira), you will also find a selection of veg friendly options to choose from.
If you prefer eating in, then you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of bio and vegan/vegetarian friendly supermarkets, such as Biomercado or Miosótis. There’s also the healthy living supermarket brand, Celeiro, that stocks products such as my favorite, the delicious Beyond Burger (meatless burger patties).
As far as festivals and events go, there is no shortage either. The VeggieWorld festival is held in May, while in the first week of December you can visit the annual Natalis Christmas fair, held at the International Convention center in Lisbon, which includes an entire section dedicated to vegan foods and products too!
With this guide on sustainability and the most veg friendly destinations you’re ready to step up towards being a more sustainable traveler!
Bon appétit and safe travels!
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