A new year, a new you as the cliche saying goes, whether it’s shedding some of the Christmas weight, for moral or health reasons, January is the perfect time of the year to think about a Vegetarian or Vegan diet.
They’ve affectionately named the month ‘Veganuary’ after all.
Which delicious destination will you be heading to in 2019?
Asia (Including South East Asia, Far East)
New Delhi, India
The chaotic capital of India, New Delhi is a melting pot, and that applies to its culinary scene too. Delhi is home to some of the best food in India, from street side stalls to fancy restaurants at 5* hotels. For the first timer, navigating Delhi’s culinary scene can be something of a hit and miss affair. Delhi is famous for its Punjabi cuisine which tends to be spicy and oily – not ideal for the newly arrived. Punjabi food also is more meat-focused than other Indian cuisines, but luckily there are still many veggie options – many including paneer cheese (yummy).
We recommend sticking with restaurants that are used to serving foreigners (less spicy) – some of our favourites are Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese curry) and dal makhni (a rich, creamy version of the ubiquitous dal). Travellers report less than great experiences with street food so we recommend taking a street food tour (where guides know which stalls are better), or even better – enjoy a traditional Delhi meal in an Indian home! If in doubt: follow the crowds and eat where everyone else is! Our favourite Delhi restaurant for Punjabi food in a lovely setting is Garam Dharam, right next to Connaught Place!
India is the best country I’ve ever visited in terms of availability for vegetarian food options, due to the prominence of Hinduism. Although Hinduism does not require a vegetarian diet, many Hindus avoid eating meat because they believe that it minimizes hurting other life forms. The killing of animals is banned in the holy cities in India, so within those city boundaries all food served will be vegetarian. An example of a holy city is Pushkar, a small town in Rajasthan popular with backpackers.
Indian food options revolve around curries and breads, and one of the tastiest dishes you can get is vegetarian Thali. The dish includes a round plate with small bowls (including vegetables, curries and curd) lining the outside; and in the centre of the plate is a heap of plain rice. The idea behind thali is to offer all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. I love this dish because it allows you to taste a variety of different flavours, it’s filling, and it only costs a couple of dollars. Thali originated in the south of India, but can now be found throughout the country.
I’ve been vegan for just about six months now and one of the first places I travelled to with my new diet was Indonesia. Indonesian food is, thankfully, in large part vegan by design, without even trying. It’s the birthplace of tempeh, a favourite meat substitute for vegans, and coconut replaces dairy in the cuisine, in general. That’s just the local cuisine, which is fantastic, but in Bali, in particular, there are tons of other vegan options as well!
Given how many tourists travel to Bali, and how many of them are more on the spiritual side, especially in Ubud, there are so many vegan cafés that you could eat at a new one for each meal for weeks and not run out. Some of the food is more western style and some are the local style. As a vegan in Bali, you’re spoiled for choice. My personal favourite is Earth Café in Ubud, which has everything from smoothie bowls to raw pizzas.
When anyone thinks of Myanmar, they certainly do not think it to be vegetarian. But I was pleasantly surprised to find good, (not makeshift) veg food even on the streets of Myanmar. No kidding! They love their meat, but the country has ample of fresh veggies and fruits. Trust me it is not makeshift vegetarian either, but something that you can relish!
The magic word here is “Tathaloo” which means lifeless and being a Buddhist country, Burmese people understand this and dish out plenty of foods that do not have ‘life’ in it. Dishes include rice with fried veggies (often topped with cashews), noodles with fried vegetables and fresh salads often with Tomato, Cucumber and a peanut dressing. Another vegetarian meal is of cooked vegetables, fritters served with rice.
Street snacks include Mont Lin ya Mar: which loosely translates to a ‘husband and wife snack’ due to its two parts, which is quite a treat to the senses! Another must-have in Mandalay is the dessert Moong cake called Lah Mont.
In Bagan, do not forget to have the various varieties of Tamarind flakes. Myanmar is a tea heaven: you can find various tea leaf salads as well.
Sri Lanka is home to some of the most flavoursome dishes on the planet and has one of the biggest ranges of Vegetarian food we’ve experienced on our travels. We are yet to have been in a situation where there haven’t been at least a handful of vegetarian/vegan options on the menu.
Breakfast typically consists of string hoppers (home-made rice noodle patties), some form hearty lentil dhal, sweet and sticky pol pani (coconut pancakes with treacle) and always served with a pot of the freshest local black tea.
The lunch-time staple of rice and curry is not only awesome value for money but you are always left surprised with the ever-changing variations of curry dishes. From creamy coconut and pumpkin, spiced aubergine, sticky spiced mango, chopped banana flower, fresh green beans with garlic and chilli and always accompanied with fiery coconut sambal (scraped coconut ground together with chilli, garlic and shallots). For a hearty meat-like meal, we particularly enjoyed the mouth-watering baby jackfruit curry.
Evening meals are just as tasty, from freshly sizzled veggie-filled rotis, egg hoppers (bowl-shaped pancakes filled with a fried egg) served with punchy chilli paste, to fried vegetable kotthu (vegetables fried with chopped rotis) heated on a big metal grill plate. Yum!
By Laura & Matt from Two Stay Wild
From a quick look at street food in Bangkok, you would assume there isn’t much of a vegetarian food offering. However, dig a little deeper into the fresh markets and you will find a huge range of vegetarian and vegan dishes available.
Just about every fresh market with a food court has a stall offering vegetarian dishes. The most popular ingredients in vegetarian dishes are tofu and mushrooms. You will be blown away by how many ways these two simple ingredients can be prepared.
For the ultimate vegetarian experience, you must visit during the Tekasan Gin Jay Festival (otherwise known as the vegetarian festival). During this two week period from late September to early October, the city is covered in yellow stalls selling the widest range of vegetarian foods you can imagine with influences from all over Asia.
Josh Shephard – The Lost Passport
Vietnam is one of the easiest places to travel to if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Since Buddhism is a popular religion practised in Vietnam, there are local shops (quán in Vietnamese) and restaurants that serve only vegan food (look for “chay” on their signs) and/or have vegetarian options on the menu. These places are everywhere from the main tourist areas to the side alleyway. You won’t find any misunderstandings with eating chay or see any meats or eggs sneaked into your food.
Enjoy all your favourite vegan Vietnamese foods from phở (noodle soup), gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), bánh mì (sandwich), hot pot, vegan fish sauce, and more! Another good food option is to find cơm chay places where you get a mound of rice and you choose your toppings (tofu, fake meats, veggies, etc). Many of the fake meats used in the dishes are made out of soy or mushrooms for texture and colour.
Besides the delicious flavours, eating vegan in Vietnam is affordable. A bowl of noodles can be less than $1.25 USD. Now, let’s eat our way through Vietnam!
By Jackie Szeto & Justin Huynh from Life of Doing
Australasia / Oceana
Coming from an old school English city, moving to Melbourne really showed me how adapted certain parts of the world are for herbivores. Every restaurant has a plethora of non-cruelty options, every market has vegan stalls and the people accept that not eating meat is a choice some people make and is not to be scoffed at. Street food is usually faster to catch on to trends than other eateries, but Melbourne has it all. You can get pizza, tacos, burgers, sushi, hot dogs, Lebanese food, Chinese food, Peruvian food, you name it, you can now easily access a vegan option in Melbourne.
Special shout out to Lentil As Anything, a not-for-profit Sri Lankan dish restaurant with several locations across the city. The Abbotsford Convent location regularly features live music and has an incredible atmosphere. The pay scale is “pay what you can” and any profits go to helping the less fortunate. This place helped to feed me when I was penniless, and I met many good friends here.
It hasn’t always been easy to find vegetarian & vegan food in New Zealand. As a country that prides itself on its meat and dairy exports, most people (myself included) grew up on the staple “meat & three veg” kind of meals. But times have changed and the vegan scene in New Zealand has absolutely exploded in recent years!
Not only are there vegan cafes and restaurants popping up everywhere, but most ‘mainstream’ eateries also have a good selection of vegan goodies too. Even service stations are jumping on the bandwagon, offering vegan pies (another dietary staple for kiwis!) in multiple mouth-watering flavours, as well as milk alternatives for your morning brew!
New Zealand is fairly multicultural, especially in the larger cities, which makes finding great vegan options even easier. Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mexican restaurants are commonplace and a good place to start to pick up traditionally vegan menu items. There are still several smaller rural areas where you may run into a little more trouble. Vegetarian options shouldn’t be a problem anywhere, but vegan can be trickier in these tiny towns. The Happy Cow app is a helpful tool here, but at the very least you should be able to locate a sushi bar or fish & chip shop to pick up some goodies – just make sure they cook your chippies in vege oil (not animal fat) first!
Central America & The Caribbean
But don’t let that be a turn off! There are some really tasty traditional dishes on offer that are just naturally vegetarian or vegan. So, there’s less chance of accidentally eating meat or animal products as you travel and eat your way around the country.
The national breakfast dish is Gallo Pinto, which is rice and beans sautéed with garlic, onions, and cilantro. It’s sometimes served with fried or scrambled eggs on the side, so vegans will have to hold back from the eggs. Casado is another perfect combo of rice, beans, fried plantains, cabbage and tomato salad, and a piece of fish for the pescatarians in the room.
The vegan/vegetarian movement is definitely on the rise in Costa Rica, especially in the capital, San Jose, where even the local population is adopting the vegan/vegetarian diet. Vegan and vegetarian dishes or menu options are easy to find in almost any tourist town where healthy restaurants are popping up left right and centre. As vegetarian travels, we have never had a problem finding delicious meals while in Costa Rica!
By Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
Mexico City, Mexico
Before I went to Mexico City, I had the preconception that it would be really difficult to find good vegan food. Man, how I was wrong!
There are so many incredible, delicious vegan restaurants and taco stands that I was genuinely in food heaven here.
My top 3 vegan places are:
- Por Siempre: This unassuming taco van chills on the side of the road in Roma Norte, and only stays open a few hours at lunch. Their incredible tacos cost only 15 pesos each (about 0.75 USD) and you can jam pack them with fillings like vegan chorizo (made from soy) & almond cheese, and add as much salad, potatoes and beans as you like.
- Pan D’Monium: Another vegan food van, this time with vegan burgers, pizza & hot “dogs”. My fave burger is the Soberia; a spicy bun spinach, almonds, raisins and parsley. I even saw a review saying “If we had food like this in Australia….everyone would be vegan ❤” which is quite something to say about Mexico City!
- Temiclti: Located on the corner of the main road in Condesa, Temiclti is great for people watching- while digging into incredible vegan nachos or mac & “cheese”! Their signature nachos come topped with heaps of guac, vegan cheese, beans, and salsa, and were possibly the best nachos I’ve had in my life.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Is it odd to say that a surf and yoga retreat in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua convinced me to become a vegetarian? Well, it’s true! I wanted to do something good for my mind and body, which also included being more conscious about what I was putting into my body. I had the opportunity to stay in a location where the food was purchased daily at a local market and prepared in-house by Nicaraguan women. Fresh juices – think jicama and hibiscus – and tasty combinations of beans and rice, accompanied medleys of flavourful fruits and vegetables.
The local foodie scene was much the same with its incorporation of fresh ingredients prepared for each order. Maybe it’s because San Juan del Sur is a bit far from the main cities, or it could be tradition – or a combination of the two – but for a vegetarian (or vegan!) the flavours of Nicaragua blend beautifully to create tasty, colourful dishes that your taste buds will adore.
Berlin is often called the Vegan capital of Europe – that made me curious and I spent around two weeks there. During that time, I went to several vegetarian & vegan cafes, restaurants and supermarkets. I have to admit: It’s really easy to live in Berlin as a vegetarian.
There are various supermarkets with a focus on vegetarian, vegan and bioproducts as well as many amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Berlin.
While the German kitchen itself isn’t famous for vegetarian food, you can find different types of foods from all around the world to have a great vegetarian dinner. Whatever you are looking for – you will find a vegetarian option in Berlin.
What I liked, even more, is the fact that even most regular restaurants clearly showcase which products are vegetarian, vegan or contain certain products such as dairy or nuts. This is amazing for everybody that wants to go out with non-vegetarian friends and/or has dietary restrictions.
In my opinion, Berlin is one of the best places for Vegetarians and Vegans in Europe – if you ever stay there you certainly must try the vegetarian version of Döner, funnily called “Vöner”.
By Michael Gerber from MSC Gerber
Rome is known for its heavily meat-based cuisine, but lately, I’ve been finding it one of the best destinations in Italy for vegan and vegetarian travellers. While many cities may have options for vegetarians, so including eggs and dairy products, in Rome, you will find also many restaurants for those who adopted a totally vegan diet.
If you are in a traditional restaurant and want to try a typical dish, you can go for the tonnarelli cacio e pepe pasta, which is seasoned with Roman Pecorino cheese and a generous sprinkle of black pepper, or if you prefer lactose-free, you can opt for a pasta dish with porcini mushrooms or truffles, both delicious and that don’t require grated cheese on top.
There are plenty of vegetarian pizza toppings and you can also ask for “rossa”, a red one, that doesn’t have mozzarella cheese, or a focaccia still without mozzarella.
If you prefer a fully vegetarian restaurant instead, Rome has plenty of options and new ones keep opening, some even fully vegan, such as the delicious Ops! close to Piazza Fiume.”
By Angela from Rome Actually
Balkan travels can be a challenge for vegetarians since the region is very heavily focused on meat but Macedonia is a nice exception. Every time I’m in the country I’m surprised there is actually a decent choice of vegetarian dishes.
The most common food is shopska salad (a delicious combination of cucumber, tomato, onion, paprika and Balkan salty cheese) that you can get in every restaurant. Speaking of the Balkan cheese – don’t miss fries sprinkled with the regional cheese – this combination is really good!
Macedonia is home to pepper, in autumn you can see rows of this vegetables drying up in front of the houses or on the balconies. That’s also where you will eat the best ajvar or lutenica (a hotter version) – pepper-based bread spread. Another dish you can’t miss is tavce gravche – a national dish made of beans, tomatoes and onions. If you need a quick bite you can always find a bakery and get a burek – pastry with cheese or spinach filling.
No matter which dish you choose you’re in for a treat – all the ingredients are fresh and the food is very delicious.
By Kami from My Wanderlust
Did you know that two of the UK’s most vegan-friendly cities in the UK are actually in Scotland? Glasgow and Edinburgh are vegan foodie havens with a variety of fully vegan restaurants each, and plenty more that offer vegan options. But even outside of the cities, Scotland’s foodie scene is catching on to the trend. There are vegan cafes in many of Scotland’s most popular destinations, like Fort William, Dundee and Aberdeen.
The Scottish Highlands and Islands are also easy to travel as a vegan since most cafes and restaurants will have one or two vegan mains and most soups and salads can be made vegan as well.
If you visit Scotland, you should try vegetarian haggis which is very commonly served at traditional restaurants, but also in pubs and at fish & chip takeaways. Most veggie haggis brands are also vegan, only the potato mash has to be substituted for boiled potatoes when they use dairy.
If you are self-catering, definitely pick up some of the locally produced vegan products in Glasgow or Edinburgh – my favourites are Isle of Bute Sheese and ‘Sgaia Vegan Mheats’. Both are widely available in health food shops around the cities!
By Kathi from Watch Me See
While most people will be surprised to hear this, Spain is a great place to travel as a vegetarian or vegan. This is because the Spanish cook with olive oil rather than butter and never include cheese in their dishes, so any vegetable dish is naturally vegan.
One of the most famous accidentally vegan Spanish dishes is the classic Spanish breakfast which you can find in any cafe or bar. It consists of toasted baguette topped with fresh tomato, Spanish olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Other widely available vegan dishes include churros, pimientos de padrón (sauteed padron peppers), champiñones al ajillo (mushrooms sauteed in garlic), gazpacho (cold tomato soup), parrillada de verduras, (platter of grilled vegetables), creamy vegetable soups, and vegetarian paella. Besides these and others, there are dishes that are easily veganizable by removing the egg or ham topping, like pisto (ratatouille) and salmorejo (creamy and thick tomato dip).
Additionally, all of the major Spanish cities (and many smaller ones) have a plethora of vegan and vegetarian restaurants of amazing quality that make traditional dishes in vegan versions. We lived in Madrid for several years and were constantly exploring new spots. Read more in our Ultimate Guide to Vegan Madrid.
By Sam from Alternative Travelers
The UK is one of the best countries in the world for vegans! London consistently features on top vegan cities lists as well as places further north such as Glasgow in Scotland. 7% of the UK’s population is now vegan meaning the demand for vegan food is greater than ever before.
Supermarkets are now stock vegan sandwiches to snack on and cafes have plenty of choicees. There are quite a few accidental vegan foods which are listed as vegan meaning you won’t have to scan the back of packets for that annoying milk powder! On the subject of milk, most coffee shops offer dairy-free milks.
When it comes to traditional British food, vegans don’t have to miss out. You can have a proper English breakfast vegan style and there are many veggie chip shops allowing conscious travellers to enjoy ‘fish’ and chips. If your tastes are more refined and you would like to try the quintessential afternoon tea there are plenty of options in London. For those on a budget who would still like to indulge, you can enjoy a wonderful vegan high tea in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace!
Finally, many people know what veganism is which makes eating out so much easier. Veganism truly has gone mainstream in the UK.
By Anna Liddell from My Travel Scrapbook
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Georgia (Republic) offers quite a lot of choices of vegetarian-friendly dishes. They’re very unique and delicious. Let’s start with the most common type of dish you can find pretty much in any bakery in Georgia: Megruli Khachapuri (Kachapuri for short). It’s a cheese filled pie topped with more cheese. Some even come with a cooked egg on top. It’s a calorie bomb for sure.
Khinkali is Georgian version of dumplings. Some are filled with meat (even shrimp!) but you can find these filled with vegetable or cheese as well. Each place does khinkali slightly differently in terms of dough/filling/broth ratio. Everyone has a favourite khinkali restaurant. These restaurants are often open late since khinkali is the local’s drunk food of choice.
My favourite though is Nigvziani badrijani – it’s pan-fried eggplant with spicy walnut paste. I’ve seen this in almost any traditional Georgian restaurant. Learn more about vegetarian food in Georgia (Republic).
By Jill from Jack and Jill Travel
Vegetarians and vegan travellers of the world need not worry when they are on a trip to Israel. This beautiful country in the Middle East is quite possibly the easiest one to travel to for anyone who’s adopted a meat-free and animal products free diet. Many dishes in Israel are naturally vegan, and when they are not, there are plenty of places to find excellent vegan alternatives to food that traditionally contains meat or dairy products.
Among the dishes that are naturally vegan, there are falafel (delicious balls of crushed chickpeas mixed with parsley, garlic and spices and then fried until golden and crispy); hummus (there are various recipes, but the most traditional version is made with chickpeas, olive oil, garlic and lemon) which is served with tomatoes, onions, olives and pita bread.
The best places to have hummus are Abu Hassan in Jaffa (Tel Aviv); Abu Shruki in the bazaar in Jerusalem; and Uzi Hummus in Netanya (this is a strictly local place!).
By Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World
Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is one of the most naturally and culturally diverse capital cities within the Middle East region. Due to the high influx of expatriates from India, a majority of those eat vegetarian food for religious reasons, the city has a wide range of vegetarian eateries. This also means that vegetarian food in Muscat is, for most of the time, a synonym to Indian food.
Almost all the international restaurants in the city will have a vegetarian menu; although it might be sometimes limited to a few dishes only. However, the area of Al-Khuwair in Muscat is particularly famous for vegetarian restaurants.
The most popular vegetarian food available in Muscat is a ‘Thali’. The Thali is actually not a cuisine, but it is a huge plate with small bowls which are served with different Indian vegetarian dishes. Another, the very popular dish includes baked corn with deep fried cauliflower served with a lemon mojito!
Considering Muscat is in the Middle East, the city will not disappoint the non-meat eaters.
La Paz, Bolivia
Situated in a valley between the Andes and the Altiplano and next to Lake Titicaca and the Yungas rainforest, La Paz provides an incredible abundance of year-round, local produce. Markets line the streets daily with towering displays of colourful fruits and vegetables. Many, you’ll never see elsewhere.
Look out for street vendors selling a bright purple beverage. That is api morada and it is a delicious hot drink made from purple corn. It’s a bit like mulled wine in terms of spice but has no alcohol. Sandwich de palta is another common quick lunch or snack to have on the go (just make sure to order sin queso!).
Another great vegan find is local artisan chocolate maker El Ceibo Chocolate. Grown in the Alto Beni region of Bolivia, the chocolate is grown completely free of chemical additives, From farm to production, all aspects of this company are aimed at providing a benefit to its cooperative members and sustainable production of its product. Look for it in bio stores and try the dark chocolate with cacao nibs and salt from the nearby Salar de Uyuni and the chocolate covered peanuts.
If you want to try traditional Bolivian food, head to Namás Té. While the restaurant serves a mix of international foods, the real stars are veganized versions of Bolivian dishes like sajta served with chuño, Andean black potatoes that are tossed on the roof to “freeze-dry.” They soak in the heat of the sun during the day and freeze by night in the chilly temperatures, a process that takes five days.
By Jen from Long Haul Trekkers
Are you thinking about travelling to South America?
Maybe you are in doubt about whether or not you’ll find vegetarian or even vegan food on the road, well, don’t be.
I, for example, have been travelling around Colombia, known for its excessive meat consumption, for the last few months and I am thriving. Medellin, Colombia for example, has a wealth of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
You may have to look beyond the surface, but once you do, you’ll find a great selection of restaurants. In fact, the hunt became one of my favourite things to do in Medellin because I kept discovering new vegetarian restaurants. Lenteja Express has been one of my favourites. No matter where you go, you’ll find varied plates, often with a soup and natural fruit juice included in the price; just look out for the menu of the day.
All in all, if you’re thinking of travelling to Colombia, make sure you stop by Medellin for some great Vegetarian and Vegan food options.
By Daniel James from Layer Culture
Many people assume that Latin America isn’t a friendly region for vegetarians and vegans. It is true that you do need to know a bit of Spanish to ensure that those delicious black beans aren’t made with pork fat or the tortillas haven’t been brushed with pork lard before being toasted.
However, meat is a luxury and many of the traditional dishes that generations have survived on included little or no meat. In fact, there are plenty of traditional vegan and vegetarian foods in Peru that aren’t just rice or quinoa dishes.
Yes, Peru is the land of ceviche and guinea pig, but also there are thousands of different kinds of potatoes, ancient corn species and so many types of peppers to keep you delighted for weeks. While dairy isn’t common along the coast, if you are vegan you do need to make sure there is no mayonnaise in the dishes.
Rocoto Relleno is a stuffed pepper that can be filled with meat and cheese, but you can ask for vegetarian versions of this. Escribano Arequipeno is an ancient potato salad made with mashed potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. And that fish ceviche? Well in Lima they have a vegetarian version that includes corn instead of fish. Even sandwich shops put together a killer vegetarian sandwich on a bun.
Don’t discount Peru because you’re worried about food. If anything, you’ll want to stay longer to try everything.
By Ayngelina Brogan fro, Bacon Is Magic
So, which Vegetarian and Vegan friendly destination are you heading to? Or do you know of any more Vegetarian and Vegan destinations? I’d love to hear, so please comment below.
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