Your diet choices should never limit your traveling. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you will be able to survive anywhere you go without compromising your diet. It only takes a little bit of preparation. Of course, some destinations are better than others for finding vegetarian food options with ease. And, for many, experiencing local cuisine is one of the most important aspects of travel. So, here is a list of the best countries to visit for vegetarian-friendly food. These eight places will allow you to indulge with the least amount of effort, and, in some of these places, vegetarians may even find themselves to be in the majority.
Vegetarian Travel: 8 Vegetarian Friendly Countries
Most Ethiopians are part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and part of their religious tradition is that Wednesdays, Fridays, and the whole Lenten season are designated as vegan days. For vegetarian travelers, this means that Ethiopians have already perfected the meat-free versions of their signature local dishes. Injera, spongy sourdough bread, is the staple of most Ethiopian meals and is used to scoop up the rest of your meal. Along with your injera, you can expect to eat shiro, a creamy chickpea dish, misir, a red lentil curry, and collard greens, known as gomen. You can also expect these protein and nutrient-packed foods to be heavily seasoned and delicious.
Where to go in Ethiopia: Addis Abeba
Probably the most well known vegetarian haven is India, which is widely considered the birthplace of vegetarianism. More than 30% of Indians are estimated to be vegetarians, as it is rooted in Hindu culture and the Jain religion. Vegetarian visitors will be thrilled to find that grocery stores commonly label their products with green or brown designations to indicate if they are vegetarian or not. When dining out, be sure to try aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower curry, and a dal, or lentil, dish. If you are vegan, make sure to avoid ghee, clarified butter, which is a common ingredient in Indian cooking.
Where to go in India: Karnataka, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai
Healthy vegetarian eating has taken hold as a movement in Scotland in order to combat the country’s unhealthy habits and high obesity rate. In fact, in 2013 the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals UK named Glasgow the most vegan-friendly local city due to its abundance of vegetarian restaurants. If you are looking for a unique veggie dish, you definitely want to try the haggis made from potatoes at Saramago Café. Glasgow is not the only vegetarian-friendly city in Scotland, though. Edinburgh hosts an annual Vegan Festival in August.
If you are a hungry vegetarian visiting Israel, you can rest assured that there is a place to get delicious falafel on just about every corner in the country. Thanks to a growing animal rights movement in this tiny Middle Eastern country, there are an abundance of vegetarian and vegan food options, including the only Domino’s restaurants in the world where you can order a pizza with non-dairy cheese. Of course, there are plenty of more traditional local foods that are vegetarian such as hummus and tabbouleh. The local culture can also be a boon for vegetarians because kosher restaurants only serve meat or dairy (not both) because the dietary laws stipulate that they must not be eaten together.
Where to go in Israel: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa
It is easy to find delicious vegetarian food in Thailand, especially if you are sticking to the larger cities. Chiang Mei, for example, has close to 100 dedicated vegetarian restaurants. Thailand is also a good place for vegans because traditionally Thai cooking does not use a lot of dairy ingredients. Make sure you try a coconut-based curry while you’re there. The one thing to watch out for, though, is fish and oyster sauce, which are commonly used to flavor Thai dishes. Luckily, if you learn the local words for vegetarian (mang sa wirat), or even vegan (jay), most of the locals will know exactly what you mean. Phuket even holds a largely-popular vegetarian festival every year.
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Even though Rastafarians by no means make up a majority of the Jamaican population, their influence on the country benefits vegetarians. The traditional Ital diet is usually vegetarian, and even vegan in some interpretations, so the locals won’t be confused when you ask them to omit the meat. Coconut cream, plantains, and sweet potatoes are Jamaican favorites that you should definitely try. And, if all else fails, it’s hard to beat the country’s fresh fruit.
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The thought of British food probably brings to mind fish (and chips) and meat pies, but it is actually one of the greatest countries in the world to be a vegetarian. Always ahead of the curve on animal welfare issues, England is actually the birthplace of the term “vegan”. While clear labeling laws, and an ever-growing number of vegetarian citizens make the whole country a veggie-friendly destination, London is particularly welcoming. According to The Guardian, London has more than 130 completely vegetarian restaurants, which is probably why London was named PETA’s most vegetarian-friendly city in the world in 2009.
Where to go in England: Leeds, London, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge
More than ten percent of Taiwanese self-identify as vegetarian, which is, most likely, due to the country’s large Buddhist population that often refrains from eating meat. Visiting veggie lovers will fit right in and will find it easy to locate completely vegetarian restaurants, especially in Taipei. The country’s capital has more than 300 vegetarian eateries, and you can often get a full meal for five dollars or less. Top recommendations for local vegetarian dishes are vegetable dumplings and, if you can handle the heat, chili tofu.
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This article was written by Paula Ashlee Berg.