I like food, I’m also a veggie who’s addicted to travel. So it’s only natural I’m always on the prowl for the best countries for vegetarians. So I pushed out the question to a load of other meat-free travellers to find out from their first-hand experiences, which are the most vegetarian counties in the World.
Naturally, there have always been vegetarian-friendly destinations, but with the influx from the west wanting to live a more ethical lifestyle, some counties are upping their game and tapping into this market. All the better for us, and more importantly, the animals.
So where are the best countries for vegetarians to travel?
So if you’re a travelling vegetarian, then have a gander through this list of top meat-free destinations. First-hand recommendations of where the best places are to visit as a vegetarian from people in the know, think of it as a vegetarian travel guide.
Vegetarian Travel in Asia
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). Vegetarian 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!
Rajasthan in India is the best countries for vegetairans I’ve ever visited in terms of availability for veggie 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.
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. It really is one of the best countries for vegetarians that we have visited. 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!
Josh Shephard – The Lost Passport
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, which makes it one of the best countires for vegetarians to visit.
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.
Vegetarian Travel in Central America
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.
Vegetarian Travel in Europe
By Kami from My Wanderlust
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.
Vegetarian Travel in South America
By Ayngelina Brogan from Bacon Is Magic
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.
Vegetarian travel in the Middle East
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, Oman is one of the countries for vegetarians. The city will not disappoint the non-meat eaters.
By Jack & Jill Travel
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).
Vegetarian Friendly Countries
Vegetarian travel has never been easier, and with the influx in people going meat-free and living a more ethical lifestyle more tourist destinations will begin to adopt this trend.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian vacation, then you won’t have to look far.
I’ll be updating this list every couple of months and getting the low-down on the best countries for vegetarians to travel to, so please do come back and check out which new destinations have been added.
Do you know of any vegetarian friendly countries that need to be on this list?
Do you know somewhere which you feel is the best country for vegetarian travelers to visit? I’d love to hear from you if there’s a place you’ve visited that’s perfect for the vegetarian traveller. Please comment below.
You might also be interested in…
Pin it for later
If you enjoyed reading about the best countries for vegetarians, then why not Pin it for later or share with another veggie friend.