Traveling as a vegan still isn’t always easy but oh, boy has it improved in the last decade! Where once the only option was a sad side salad, now there are vegan ice creams, bakeries, cheesemongers and milk made out of an unfathomable array of nuts and legumes. We’ve made a list of some of the best countries for a vegan vacation, either for the array of restaurants and alternative options on offer, or for the natural propensity of the local cuisine to cater to vegans. Read on for a plant powered trip around the world.
The UK isn’t best known for its food culture but things have changed from the stereotypical beige and stodgy food you might expect. Sure, they still love fish and chips and a full English Breakfast, but London is bursting with markets full of fresh produce, neighborhood restaurants and a vegan scene that rivals any on earth.
There are 165 fully vegan restaurants in a six mile radius of the center of the city, as well as exciting vegan options on most restaurant menus. For a wine and ‘cheese’ night head to La Fauxmagerie, the UK’s first vegan cheesemonger and try truffled brie, Brixton Blue, and even vegan fondue.
When cultures mix great things happen, and especially on the dinner table. Nowhere is that more true than in Malaysia where influences from Malay culture, China, India, old colonial Portugal, Holland, England, Thailand and more mix in a diverse, exciting and delicious hotpot.
Every vegan traveler has to try the ubiquitous Nasi campur- grab a plate of rice and choose your toppings, buffet style. Chili sambals, Redang curries, satay tofu, bao buns dipped in soya sauce - it's all available if you ask for the vegan options. Indian restaurants have pure vegan curry buffets, and the Chinese places always contain mock meat alternatives. Feeling like an adventurous vegan traveler? There’s a bowl of vegan fish head soup with your name on it.
Crunchy veg, handfuls of herbs and slippery noodles. Vietnamese food is the cliché assault on the senses and one that vegans can revel in. Learn the magic word ‘chay’ and you’ll be able to order any of the usual favorites without any animal products. Chay technically means food that Buddhists eat, meaning vegetarian or vegan. Replace the meat in banh chi with tofu or veg, munch on fresh rice paper rolls dunked in peanut sauce and enjoy Pho Chay with rice noodles, delicious broth, tofu, fresh herbs, chili and lime.
Ethiopia has centuries of experience making delicious vegan food so they really know what they’re doing. Almost half of Ethiopians are orthodox Christians and observe fasting days twice a week. On these days and the many religious fasting periods throughout the year, animal products are avoided, meaning they’ve developed some down right delicious vegan options.
Ijera is a fermented flour crepe, traditionally eaten with the right hand and used as a utensil to scoop up delicious sauces and stews. You can’t get away from berbere- a vivid seasoning of chili peppers, cinnamon, paprika and cardamom that’s added to chickpea and lentil stews. Nothing plain or beige here, and communal eating makes every meal feel like a party.
Think of Bali and you probably have rainbow coloured smoothie bowls floating across your vision. This wellness mecca is bursting at the seams with fresh, Instagram-friendly buddha bowls and green juices beloved by the surf yoga lifestyle.
You can pay less (and avoid influencers) by indulging in the very vegan friendly traditional Indonesian food too. The deliciousness of peanut tofu, nasi goreng and keri tempeh appear on most restaurant menus. And it’s not just Bali, Java has the most vegan restaurants in the country and specializes in spiced tofu steamed in banana leaves, a dish you won’t forget.
West is best when it comes to finding the best vegan food in the US, with Portland, San Francisco and LA topping the table. The stereotype that all Portlanders are vegan hipsters isn’t quite true but they sure do know how to cater for them. You’ll find BBQ restaurants serving only vegan meals (what?) and bakeries using no gluten or dairy but still providing all of the flavor. Vegan pizzerias, Thai food, Peruvian ceviche (how?) and a Vietnamese cafe where Buddhist nuns serve tastebud-exploding mock meat classics, the options here are seemingly endless.
Long Story Short...
Gone are the times of cardboard-like seitan and boring lentil stews. Vegan food is not just acceptable but it’s at the forefront of pushing boundaries in flavor. Whether its new versions of old favorites, hipster cafes or communities who have been making vegan food sing for centuries, a vegan vacation has never looked so appealing.
Written by Laura Sedlak