So, you love to travel, but you’re also a vegan. You probably already know how difficult that can be, with few places in the world that can accommodate your special dietary needs. But the good news is, there are some spots that tend to be a lot more vegan-friendly than most, including these.
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Texas is probably the last place you’d think of as being vegan-friendly, but in the city of Austin, you’ll find lots of fantastic options. In fact, in 2013, PETA named the city the most vegan-friendly in the entire nation. It may not have the most vegan eateries, or the highest concentration of vegan restaurants, but it does have momentum, and the people to keep it going. There is a group of dedicated, and creative, folks that go the extra step to make it happen. In less than a five-year period, Austin went from having just one vegan restaurant, Casa de Luz, to an explosion of vegan eateries – about five opening every year since. Today you can enjoy tasty chalupas with soy chorizo at Guero’s Taco Bar and the famous Freeto Burrito at the Vegan Yacht, along with a multitude of other options – not to mention the chance to experience the city’s legendary music scene and unique culture.
Glasgow has also been acclaimed for its vegan food scene, in fact, it’s been voted the friendliest place for vegan travelers in the United Kingdom. This destination is not all that surprising, considering that the city has a history of radical politics, innovative live music and bar-based socializing, veganism fits in well. Mono, in the Merchant City area, has a light, modern menu with vegan takes on popular international fare, including Vietnamese salad and porcini risotto, bean burritos and nasi gorging. The bar brews its own beer and also has a massive and airy performance space where you can listen to outstanding musicians while enjoying your meal. You’ll find good vegan pub grub at the Flying Duck, as well as many tasty meat-free options at most other pubs in the city today.
Singapore is renowned for its extensive vegan and vegetarian dishes that can be found at up-market eateries as well as traditional hawker markets. Both Malay and Singaporean cuisine tend to use lots of tofu. The bugis area is home to two temples that are popular for sightseers, a Hindu and Chinese temple. Next to the Hindu temple, you’ll find a famous vegetarian mall offer a wide variety of tasty dishes, including vegan options. With a rather sizeable South Indian population, you’ll find a multitude of Indian vegetarian and vegan restaurants too. If you get tired of eating Asian, head to Original Sin in Holland Village which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. A hankering for Taiwanese? Enjoy banquet-style dishes at Lotus on Balestier Road. If you still need more options, visit the Singapore Vegetarian Society’s website at vegetarian-society.org for a full list of places to eat.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv’s vegan craze seems to have really taken off after it was noticed by Table Magazine in 2012 – though it’s almost always had lots of delicious options. Nearly one in 20 residents describe themselves as vegan, according to an article in British Airways’ in-flight magazine. In fact, you can even get vegan pizza at Domino’s. Staples like falafels can be found pretty much anywhere, and you can get especially tasty veggie shawarma at the aptly named Veg Shawarma. At City Tree, an “ecology project” in Tel Aviv which teaches urban dwellers how to live a sustainable and green lifestyle in the heart of the city, you can enjoy a place to spend the night and chat with other vegans. The owner also hosts workshops on vegan nutrition and permaculture.
While some travelers are alarmed when spotting the reverse swastika signs on eateries in Tapei, the symbol actually represents Taoist or Buddhist vegetarian food. You’ll also see the Chinese character “su.” There are literally hundreds of options here, and you’ll be able to find them easier by knowing how to identify certain characters and learning a few local terms, though the mostly dairy-free fare makes it fairly easy to figure out the vegan options. There are quite a few tasty items to be found among the street food at the Shilin Night Market, and the Loving Hut is a chain of outlets started by followers of vegetarian living advocate Supreme Master Ching Hai. Easy House Vegetarian Cuisine, located in Xinyi, is known for its beautifully presented, mostly vegan cuisine too.
New York City, New York
There is practically no end of diversity when it comes to dining options in the Big Apple. Renowned as one of the world food capitals, it not only offers something for everyone, it offers a lot of different things for everybody. Vegans will find everything from raw restaurants like Pure Food & Wine to farm-to-table Cande Café and the incredibly imaginative dishes at Dirt Candy like the jalapeno hush puppies. While you will have to wait for a reservation as the intimate eatery has just nine tables, it’s worth it for the complex, thoughtful dishes that emphasize one particular ingredient in each. Vinnie’s in Brooklyn offers decadent, not-so-healthy but delicious comfort fare like mac and cheese pizza, and you can indulge in gluten-free, vegan cupcakes at Baby Cakes. And if you’re looking for a quick bite, by Chloe has multiple locations in the city to grab a vegan burger and sweet potato fries.
Renowned as a very green city with a healthy lifestyle, it’s only natural that Portland is home to a multitude of vegan, vegetarian, organic and fair-trade eateries and food stores. You’ll find everything from vegan-friendly B&Bs to the only all-vegan strip mall on the planet. Travelers can enjoy an entire “vegan vacation,” that starts at the Cherokee Rose Inn, an all-vegan bed and breakfast. After going on a hike in the surrounding forests or windsurfing the mighty Columbia River, you might browse the mall with its extensive selection of vegan items, like vegan lifestyle books and vegan cookbooks at Herbivore Clothing. Then, stop for a bite at Sonny Bowl, an all-vegan food truck with lots of tasty plant-based options, including yummy bowls, salads and smoothies. Natural Selection, created by Aaron Woo, is a perfect place for your evening meal, serving fabulous dishes like chard and mushroom gnocchi and caramelized cauliflower with polenta, using fresh, local vegetables and fruits in a cozy atmosphere with European-style décor. Finally, no visit to Portland is complete without experiencing the world-famous Voodoo Doughnuts, renowned for its sinfully indulgent voodoo doll, a raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake, as well as items like bacon-topped maple bars, it also offers an entire menu of vegan delights.
South India is considered the ancient birthplace of vegetarianism – of the entire population of roughly 1.2 billion in the country, nearly half are vegetarian. Northern Indian cuisine relies quite a bit on ghee (clarified butter), but South Indian cooking typically utilizes rice, legumes and coconut milk. Many restaurants mark their doors with the label “pure veg,” which means all food served is both egg- and meat-free. In Chennai, it’s rare to see a menu that doesn’t have a rather extensive vegetarian section. And, you’ll find that vegetarian thali (a platter with curries, rice dishes and breads) will set you back less than a latte from Starbucks. It’s pretty much impossible to get bored with the incredibly varied vegan food selection in Chennai, including specialties from Andhra, Kerala, Chettinad and more. Don’t miss the Indian-Chinese fare at Mainland China, or the Andhra thali at Ashoka.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is home to over 80 vegetarian restaurants, thanks to its significant Buddhist population. There are vegan eateries elsewhere in Thailand, but they’re typically your standard “Jay,” which is a Buddhist form of veganism, served lunch buffet style, and usually not the tastiest selections. In Chiang Mai, you’ll find healthy salad bar concepts, organic farm-to-table, Japanese macrobiotic and all sorts of other vegan dishes. Even eateries that aren’t vegan-specific, offer meatless pad Thai, tom yum soup, coconut milk-based curries and salads. At Pun Pun, located at Wat Suan Dok temple and on Suthep Road near the university, you can enjoy meals based on organic veggies from the restaurant’s own farm, with curries served on banana leaves.
Another city once-named the most vegetarian-friendly city in the world by PETA, London has taken vegan dining to a whole new level. The British capital is home to countless vegan eateries, with just as many spicy vegetarian curry houses as there are pubs serving fish ‘n’ chips. In between your visits to places like the Tower of London or Buckingham Palace, you’ll find numerous ways to fill your appetite, with even the pubs these days offering plenty of meatless fare and even raw food options. The Coach & Horses in Leicester square was the city’s very first vegetarian and vegan pub, and it actually serves up incredible vegan fish ‘n’ chips. Food for Thought in Convent Garden is arguably London’s best known vegetarian restaurant, and still one of the favorites with its menu filled with everything from Indian to Mexican dishes, quiches and cheese. The Vegetarian’s Paradise in Bloomsbury has been around for over a decade and offers a twice-daily buffet.
San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay has a long tradition of healthy living habits, seen in its significant number of vegan, vegetarian and organic eateries. San Francisco was the first city in the nation to enthusiastically adopt Meatless Mondays, and AT&T Park, the home of the MLB’s San Francisco Giants was the first major sports facility to provide produce for concession stands as well as an educational organic garden for kids. On any given day of the week you’ll find a farmers market open somewhere in the city, along with an abundance of restaurant options. Greens in Fort Mason was opened up by Zen Buddhists over two decades ago, and offers magnificent bay views along with a delicious selection of vegan dishes. Gracias Madre in the Mission District serves vegan Mexican food focused on fresh ingredients from the owner’s farm. Ananda Fuara is another celebrated vegan/vegetarian eatery offering an array of Asian-inspired meals as well as Indian dishes and American fare like veggie burgers – all perfect for fueling those strenuous treks up the city’s steep hills and a walk across the Golden Gate.
Seoul, South Korea
Vegetarian dishes are common on most Korean menus, though you might want to check with your server if there is any meat in the bibimbap – and explain that includes things like spam or fish, as many don’t consider those items to be “meat.” Hangwachae is a traditional Korean vegetarian eatery with ten branches in Seoul alone. It serves delicious fresh, organic veggies seasoned with mild spices and house-made condiments like soy bean paste and chili paste. Temple food, born out of Buddhist beliefs, is completely vegan cuisine that makes full use of the country’s plentiful wild vegetables, roots and herbs to delicious effect. And, the granddaddy of temple food is Sanchon, a decades-old mainstay in the Insadong neighborhood, renowned as one of the best vegan restaurants in the world. Visitors can also hook up with groups like the Seoul Veggie club and the Seoul Vegan Potluck group to meet with other vegans and to discover more restaurants that cater to their particular dietary needs.
Vancouver, British Columbia
When in Vancouver, you won’t have to worry about where you’re going to fuel up for hiking the towering mountains that provide a magnificently scenic backdrop, or paddling the glistening waters that surround this beautiful city. Vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free and raw foodies will want a taste of the seasonal menu created with fruits and legumes at Hen of the Woods. The Acorn received a Top Ten Best New Restaurants mention in En Route Magazine, the first vegetarian restaurant ever to snag the honor, serves delicious items like beer-battered halloumi, coconut cashew and kimchi dumplings, and raw beet ravioli. Indigo Food Café is ideal for raw vegans, and when you’re in the mood for something sweet, head to Edible Flours where you can indulge in heavenly cupcakes and other desserts.
In Jordan, it’s easy to find vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants, with mezze dishes like falafel, hummus, tabbouleh and gourmet Arabic flatbreads in abundance. While traditional cooked meals in the country due feature a lot of meat, especially lamb, the selection of mezze is especially healthy, filling and delicious. Fresh fruits and veggies also play a big role in the diet of most Jordanians, you’ll find plenty of salads with natural dressings like lemon and olive oil, mostly heavy on the lemon. While there are good options in nearly every corner of the nation, Beit Sitti, or “my grandmother’s kitchen” in Arabic, located in Amman is highly recommended, as is Feynan, an eco-lodge in the heart of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Here guests feast on falafel, hummus, vegetarian stews and flat breads baked by Bedouins.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur is not only a melting pot of cultures from India to China, it’s home to nearly 100 vegetarian or vegan specific restaurants offering everything from hummus and falafel sandwiches to aloo ghobi, chana masala and mock-meat variations of all the traditional Chinese favorites. The city also hosts a number of Boost Juice outlets which serves up especially yummy vegan options like the dairy-free cookies-and-“cream,” made with vegan Oreos. Gopala Vegetarian Restaurant features an extensive array of cultural fare from Indian to Thai, and you’ll find numerous vegetarian hawker stalls throughout Kuala Lumpur too.
In a city known for its beer and Bratwurst, it’s hard to imagine finding much in the way of healthy food options, but Berlin actually goes above and beyond when it comes to accommodating the vegan lifestyle. Culinary Misfits, exclusively serving up “ugly” vegetables is one of the most popular eateries in the German capital. With a third of each harvest reject just because the crop doesn’t match the beauty standards for produce, those weird looking double-legged carrots and strangely shaped potatoes never reach the supermarkets – Culinary Misfits works against “produce-lookism,” by providing a good use for veggie “freaks.” You can also get a great veggie burger at Sun Day Burger and enjoy fine dining at Lucky Leek, among the numerous outstanding vegan restaurant options in Berlin.
Mumbai is home to the largest vegetarian population in the world. As such, it’s pretty easy to find all types of vegetarian options in just about every food stall and restaurant here. You will need to watch out for dairy, as Indian vegetarians are mostly lacto-vegetarians, meaning they don’t eat meat, eggs or fish, but they do consume dairy. Still, you certainly won’t go hungry here with the multitude of vegan dishes to be found at places like Birdsong Café with an especially tasty black rice and mushroom risotto or the roasted zucchini bruschetta and grilled corn and jalapeno quesadilla at Under the Banyan Tree. For dessert, you can enjoy an extensive range of dairy-free sorbets at Amore Gourmet Italian Gelato or especially decadent treats like Dark Truffle chocolates at C4 Chocolates.