Trying to adhere to a restrictive diet while traveling can be difficult, and may even deter vegans and vegetarians from certain destinations that typically have a meat- and seafood-heavy cuisine (we’re looking at you Japan).
While you may have a hard time getting by in places like Germany and France that often include meat and dairy in every meal, vegans will have no problem eating delicious, flavorful food in these top 12 vegan-friendly travel destinations!
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Top 12 Vegan-Friendly Travel Destinations
You may be as shocked as I was to discover Scotland was a vegan diamond in the rough, considering neighboring Ireland and nearby nordic countries are known for their meat-forward cuisine.
However, the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in particular offer vegan options from mile-high nachos and standard pub food to mouthwatering gelato-topped waffles (found at Affogato in Edinburgh). Vegans traveling though this gorgeous green country will find it hard to stick to salads!
New York City
The Big Apple might be known for its dairy-heavy cheesecake and pizza, but there’s also a proportionally appropriate amount of veg-friendly cuisine as well. Because it’s New York, you can find vegan fare high and low; there’s even a number of fine dining options for you to choose from! Especially for those of you in NYC for the first time, it’s well worth it to treat yourself to an evening meal at Blossom or Avant Garden (clever, we know).
The beauty of Indian food is that — while undeniably delicious — nearly half of it is vegan or vegetarian from the start! Look for dishes like vegetable curries, roti bread, masala dosa, vegetable biryani, aloo puri, and momos (dumplings) — none of which typically include animal products.
Be aware, cows are sacred in India and dairy is a pretty big part of the Indian diet; make sure your meal is milk-, butter-, and ghee-free before ordering, or ask to substitute for soy milk or oil (respectively). Most foods are cooked with butter or ghee, so simply requesting the food vendor to use oil as an alternative will serve you well. Shopping at markets or grocery stores? The telltale green dot on an item’s package signifies it’s vegetarian.
Vegetarians are likely well-aware their favorite foods originate from the Middle East — including pita bread, hummus, falafel, and sambusak. In fact, Tel Aviv, Israel has been deemed by some as the vegan capital of the world! The turn to veganism has been relatively recent for the country, but its warm embrace by the Israeli people means you’ll find a variety of options to choose from at any cafeteria or restaurant.
Tel Aviv has also hosted the “World’s Largest Vegan Festival” and continues to offer various vegan food tours, so you can incorporate your love of wholesome food into a truly envious vacation activity!
The language barrier might be intimidating for those with dietary restrictions, but don’t let that deter you from visiting Taiwan! The prevalence of veganism in Taiwan is grounded in the culture’s spirituality — namely Buddhism and Taoism — so most restaurants offer meals that accommodate these groups. Large portions ensure you never go hungry, and the food is prepared and served elegantly; what more could you ask for?!
HappyCow also provides a list of typical foods you’ll find on a menu that are entirely vegan, which makes ordering super simple and hassle-free.
From San Francisco to LA to San Diego, you’ll find that restaurants in every major city in California offer vegan options — and even over 160 restaurants that are exclusively vegan! You’ll likely even spot major vegan celebrities (*ahem* Beyoncé) at hotspots like Gracias Madre and ultra-chic Crossroads in LA.
I hate to encourage stereotypes, but this state does abide by its reputation as home of animal-rights activists and health-conscious, clean-eating beauties alike. Vegans will feel right at home!
Thai food will forever be my favorite non-guilty pleasure — the key here being non-guilty. Creamy recipes often use coconut milk and offer tofu or veggies in lieu of meat, so s vegan can order a delicious meal anywhere in Thailand without thinking twice! If you want to stray from curries and pad thai, be sure to try out authentic favorites like coconut soup, spring rolls with peanut sauce, seitan, and stir-fry.
Mexico City, Mexico
Known internationally as a serious foodie destination, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that vegans will find haven in Mexico City. Mexican food is a vice I’m sure we’re all susceptible to, though it often hides lard and dairy — but authentic, colorful Mexican that is entirely vegan? This capital is worthy of a vacation for the cuisine alone!
Much like the island’s scenery, Indonesian cuisine embraces standard Asian food staples but adds its own pop of color. Vegan dishes in Bali are naturally photogenic, and with tons of vibrant pinks, purples, greens and oranges, it’s almost too pretty to eat.
Better than its looks though is its taste, because some serious creativity goes into making the tropical veg fare appetizing to even the most carnivorous of travelers. Breakfast will become your favorite meal of the day (after all, who can resist a good açaí bowl), and you can even learn to make your own at a healthy, raw cooking class!
Big city, PETA-approved London goes beyond your basic tofu options and serves up gourmet vegan food even Gordon Ramsey couldn’t criticize; in fact, he opened up a restaurant in the city center that even serves vegan pizza! International vegan cuisine options — ranging from Mexican to Italian to indulgent sweet goodies — can be found around every corner, and will satisfy any craving.
If you have it in your budget, make a reservation at VanillaBlack and try their entirely meat- and dairy-free 5 course meal with wine pairings!
Paris isn’t necessarily known for being a vegan hotspot, but it’s definitely making an entrance to the veggie scene. While the French and their food are quite known for their simplicity and elegance, there’s no compromising taste here! Get vegan versions of French favorites (croissants, coffee cakes, crème brûlée) early in the day, and savory kebabs and burgers later on. Paris never tasted so good.
The OG vegan hub, Portland is often considered the farm-to-fork capital of the USA and appropriately offers quality vegan fare at nearly every venue — even strip clubs!
I won’t even bother listing veg-friendly restaurants because honestly, I would be shocked if any given restaurant in Portland didn’t offer a few solely plant-based meals. You’ll have a hard time settling on a spot to eat for Every. Single. Meal. (just because there’s too many tasty places to choose from).
However, I have to say that you’d be a fool to leave without trying the famous VooDoo Doughnut (it’s hyped for a reason) and some serious comfort food from Homegrown Smoker.