The Vegan Traveller Guide
If you’ve read the sister-post to this about vegetarian travel, you’ll realise that I’m addicted to eating almost as much as I am to travelling. And being a vegetarian traveller, I love to dig out the best places around the world. to get meat-free food.
I’m slowly trying to shift to a fully vegan diet, since turning veggie way back when in 2000, I do choose to eat vegan for a large chunk of the time.
I know when I’m travelling I love to dig out the best places to get decent meat-free nosh, and often this comes from a vegan restaurant. 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 vegan counties in the World.
Going travelling as a vegan?
If you’re planning a vegan vacation, take a look through this list of the best countries for vegans. First-hand recommendations from vegan travel influencers who bring you the low-down of the best meat-free destinations out there.
Vegan Travel in Asia
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 vegan. But I was pleasantly surprised to find good, (not makeshift) plant-based 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 vegan 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 vegan 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.
By Jackie Szeto & Justin Huynh from Life of Doing
Vietnam is one of the easiest places to travel to if you’re a 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 meat-free 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!
Vegan Travel in Australasia & Oceania
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.
Melbourne is thriving and is a mecca for vegans. One day, my hometown will catch up.
It hasn’t always been easy to find 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. (I’ll add that 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 some fresh vegetable products from local stores.
Vegan Travel in Central America
By Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
Costa Rica might not be best known for their cuisine, but it is relatively easy to be vegan here. The reason being that the staple in many Costa Rican dishes is rice and beans!
But don’t let that be a turn off! There are some really tasty traditional dishes on offer that are just naturally 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 (which is fine for vegetarian travellers), but 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 (optional) piece of fish for the pescatarians in the room. Just opt out of the fish for the vegan version of the dish.
The vegan movement is definitely on the rise in Costa Rica, especially in the capital, San Jose, where even the local population is adopting the meat-free 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 meat-free travellers, we have never had a problem finding delicious meals while in Costa Rica!
Mexico City, Mexico
By Harri from Hats Off World
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.
Vegan Travel in Europe
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 on a meat-free diet.
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 typical 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 vegan dinner. Whatever you are looking for – you will find a vegan 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 other dietary needs such as dairy or nut-free. This is amazing for everybody that wants to go out with non-vegetarian/vegan 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 meat-free version of Döner, funnily called “Vöner”.
By Angela from Rome Actually
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 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 vegan 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 animal product-free restaurant instead, Rome has plenty of options and new ones keep opening. Try out the fully vegan restaurant, such as the delicious Ops! close to Piazza Fiume.”
By Kathi from Watch Me See
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 vegan haggis which is very commonly served at traditional restaurants, but also in pubs and at fish & chip takeaways. Most meat-free haggis brands are vegan (but double check for any sneaky dairy), usually the potato mash has to be substituted for boiled potatoes to get round this.
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 Sam from Alternative Travelers
While most people will be surprised to hear this, Spain is a great place to travel as a vegan. This is because the Spanish cook with olive oil rather than butter and seldom include cheese in their dishes, like in Italy, so any vegetable dish is often 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), 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 (tasty and thick tomato dip).
Additionally, all of the major Spanish cities (and many smaller ones) have a plethora of vegan and meat-free 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 Anna Liddell from My Travel Scrapbook
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 choices. 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.
Vegan Travel in South America
By Daniel James from Layer Culture
Are you thinking about travelling to South America?
Maybe you are in doubt about whether or not you’ll find vegetarian, let alone 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 both 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 vegan 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.
La Paz, Bolivia
By Jen from Long Haul Trekkers
La Paz, Bolivia may seem like an unlikely candidate for a great vegan scene, however, the city is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in South America.
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.
Vegan Travel in the Middle East
By Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World
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!).
So are you a travelling Vegan?
With the trend in the west to live a more ethical and healthier lifestyle, vegan travel has never been easier. Vegan based food is on the up all over the world and most countries are beginning to cotton on that travellers are on the lookout for vegan-friendly travel destinations.
If you’re looking for a vegan vacation, then you won’t have to look far.
I’ll be updating this list every couple of months, so please do come back and check out which new vegan destinations have been added.
Do you agree that these are the most vegan countries?
Have you visited an amazing vegan destination that the world needs to know about? I’d love to hear from you if there’s a place you’ve visited that’s perfect for fellow vegan travellers. Please comment below, and I’ll add it to the list.
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