These are the 10 best cities in the world for vegetarian and vegan travelers
Following a vegetarian or vegan diet can be tricky when traveling. Ever wondered what the best destinations are for you?
Preparing for a trip while vegetarian or vegan can be a cumbersome process. Researching the country's traditional cuisine, spending hours online looking for restaurants, and planning emergency snacks in case of a total absence of options is tiring. Sometimes, you just want to be able to enjoy your trip without having to worry about what you're going to eat. Lucky for you, there are vegetarian and vegan-friendly cities all around the world. You just need to know where to look.
Palitana, Gujarat, India
For many vegetarians and vegans, Indian cuisine might already be a safe go-to when deciding what to get for dinner. Why not experience it firsthand? Influenced by various strands of Hinduism, India is well known for being home to the largest vegetarian population in the world. The western state of Gujarat is particularly friendly to non-meat eaters, and about 70% of its population is vegetarian. American food giants such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and Domino's have even created vegetarian menus for their outlets in the state. And if you want to go a step further, Palitana in southern Gujarat is one of the two exclusively vegetarian towns in the world. It's also the oldest.
Germany's capital is at the forefront of the German and European vegan movement. Vegan cafes flourish all around the city in an attempt to make veganism more accessible. In the vibrant and progressive capital, green, cruelty-free and vegan movements have collided to create an alternative lifestyle that has been adopted by many of its residents. With around 700,000 vegans and counting, in Germany the demand for vegan and vegetarian options is growing rapidly. If you don't want to pay restaurant prices, visit Veganz. The chain of vegan food stores, founded in 2011, has enjoyed tremendous success has now outlets all over the country.
Thai food is popular with vegans and vegetarians everywhere, but the place to find the best green curry, fried rice and pad Thai is Bangkok itself. Tiny, modest, family-run establishments are known to be particularly accomodating to vegan and vegetarian tourists. Since dairy is already quite rare in traditional Thai cuisine and meat is dispensable in most dishes, vegetarians and vegans alike will be delighted with how easy it is to find delicious food without any animal products.
The dynamic coastal city known for its extravagant parties and cultural influence is also an ideal spot for vegetarians and vegans. As a trend-setting city par excellence, the warm welcome Tel-Aviv offers to the global vegan movement is not surprising. By fusing together myriad culinary influences from around the globe, including Georgian, Russian and Iraqi cuisines, meat-free Israeli dishes are a delightful explosion of flavors. From fancy restaurants to tiny cafes, Tel-Aviv will satisfy hungry vegetarians from all around the world.
The tiny island off China's coast is a hidden gem for Asian food enthusiasts. In Taipei, the capital, street food vendors are present at every corner, and vegan options are everywhere. Taiwan's culinary culture is linked to the country's Buddhist tradition, which does not strictly prohibit meat but encourages vegetarianism. With delectible meat-free compenents like steamed buns, noodles, tofu, sweet potato balls, and dumplings just to name a few, here you'll find everything you've ever dreamed of and more.
Portland, Oregon, United States
This forward-looking city has a long history of vegetarianism, dating back to the hippie movement. In 2016, PETA elected it the most vegetarian-friendly place in the world, and it's often held up as an example of excellence in American vegetarian culture. An eclectic network of culinary influences is blossoming in Portland, welcoming cuisines from all over the world. One thing is for sure, you'll never run out of vegan and vegetarian dishes to try while staying in the Rose City.
As a continent that cherishes its meaty specialties, Italy isn't considered to be among the most vegetarian-friendly places in Europe. But Italian traditional cuisine doesn't actually rely heavily on meat, unlike its Spanish and French neighbors. Flavorful risottos, burrata served with juicy tomatoes, margarita pizza? the only truly authentic pizza according to purists? and exquisite meat-free pasta are found in abundance. However, if vegetarians can easily find food, it becomes trickier for vegans, as cheese is difficult to avoid.
Lebanese cuisine is packed with vegetarian dishes, the standard Lebanese diet being mostly made of fruit, vegetables and pita bread. Meat is usually just a secondary element. The country's bustling capital, Beirut, is notably home to a significant number of vegetarian restaurants. The ubiquitous chickpea appears in many forms, most often in hummus and falafel, to the great pleasure of our taste buds. Staple foods include tabbouleh, a salad made with bulgur and parsley, and mujaddara, a rice and lentil dish, both of which are vegetarian.
Cape Town, South Africa
Although meat is a central component of the South African diet, Cape Town stands out as the epicenter of the emerging South African vegan movement. A series of environmental crises have put a strain on the country's economy, which has boosted citizens' interest in an eco-friendly outlook. A growing vegetarian and vegan community has prospered in the city, with environmentally-conscious attitudes developing in parallel.
South American vegetarians are few and far between, but that does not mean you won't find any meatless dishes. Many Chilean meals are naturally vegetarian, such as cheese empanadas, tamales or tomatican, and tomato stew. Potatoes, beans, peas and corn are dietary staples, and accompanied by the right spices, they can make for a delicious and hearty meal. Santiago, the capital, is also home to multiple vegetarian restaurants offering traditional Chilean soul food that you will be trying to recreate long after you've left.