I have been a vegetarian for almost 5 years now and after having travelled with my partner who doesn’t eat any dairy, it became apparent that not all countries are made equal when it comes to providing for those with alternative dietary requirements. Between us we have struggled significantly to enjoy the local cuisine of foreign countries (he was especially disheartened by the copious volumes of feta included in almost every Greek dish we purchased – some had most creative forms of disguise!)
But, in celebration of Veganuary, I want to share my top 5 countries for the plant-based traveller, places where you can immerse yourself in history and culture whilst savouring some of the most incredible local delicacies.
In 2014 a national survey found 29% of the population in India live vegetarian lifestyles. This can be largely attributed to Hinduism (the majority of Hindus are lacto-vegetarian) being the dominant religious practice For those hoping to sample vegetarian cuisine, the best place to look is the north-west region of India, specifically states such as Rajasthan; a majority Hindu state where a staggering 75% of the population are non-meat eaters.
- The most popular dish of the region is Dal Baati (Lentils and hard wheat rolls)
- Ker Sangri is made from Kerr berries and Sangri beans. This dish is vegetarian; however, it can be cooked with water in place of buttermilk for a vegan alternative
- Aam Ki Launji (raw mango vegan chutney) can be served with chapati which are generally plant based, consisting of whole wheat flour, water and oil.
- Rajasthan Palaces
- Golden temple in Punjab
- If you’re travelling in the north-west, a visit to the neighbouring region of Delhi and the country’s capital is an absolute must.
The Jewish Laws of Kashrut (Kosher) ensure the stringent regulation of food preparation to allow for the distinction between, meat, dairy and parve meals (the majority of parve meals are vegan!) With the second highest vegetarian and vegan population in the world, this Mediterranean country is the perfect destination for travellers looking to fill up on authentic hummus and falafel!
- Baba Ganoush is very similar to hummus but instead made with aubergine
- Shakshuka (tomatoes and onions with egg on top). This is a delicious breakfast for any vegetarian
- Dolmas (vine leaves commonly stuffed with tomatoes, peppers and courgettes)
- Whilst Tel Aviv boasts over 400 vegan friendly restaurants, a visit to the Carmel market would supply you with fresh local produce if you would prefer to cook yourself.
- Soak up the local history and culture in the country’s capital of Jerusalem with a visit to Mount Zion
- Or explore the Ein Gedi Reserve that lies on the outskirts of the city with its breathtaking waterfalls.
Some of the most amazing vegetarian and vegan cuisine that the world has to offer can be located in East African countries such as Ethiopia. The majority of the population here are Orthodox Ethiopian and don’t consume animal products such as meat and dairy on Wednesdays and Fridays. This makes finding good vegan food easy! Ethiopia is a backpacker’s haven, with so many opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture and rich history.
- An Ethiopian staple is Injira, a spongy pancake made from teff flour, native to the country and is the foundation for Yetsom Beyaynetu.
- Yetsom Beyaynetu is Injira served with a variety of vegan currys and vegetables and can be found anywhere on fasting days.
- Shiro is a spiced stew made from broad beans and powdered chickpeas and is one of the most popular dishes of Ethiopia. Like most meals it is also served alongside Injira.
- The Semien Mountains National Park hosts over 180 indigenous bird species, with truly incomparable views.
- Or take a visit to the Lake Tana monasteries in the north of the country. With intricate murals and the mummified remains of previous emperors.
- The Sof Omar Caves span over 15 kilometers and are of immense religious significance for followers of Islam and the local people.
With over 6000 vegetarian restaurants and stalls, Taiwan offers an extensive range of both vegan and vegetarian meals. The “one day vegetarian every week” movement has been advocated by government bodies such as the Taipei City Board of Education in an effort to reduce meat consumption and reap the environmental benefits attributed to a plant-based lifestyle.
- Shuǐj jiǎo (boiled dumplings filled commonly filled with spring onions, tofu and cabbage.)
- Hakka mochi is a popular snack that can be found in street market stalls across the country. Unlike traditional Japanese mochi, these are covered in peanut powder.
- Stinky Tofu is another famous Taiwanese street food. This fermented tofu has a pungent smell and can be found in a variety of forms; however it is most commonly deep fried and served with cucumber and pickled cabbage.
- Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival an annual event between April and August
- The Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in the country! (the perfect spot for sunrise meditation)
- Immerse yourself in culture at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist monasteries located in the Dashu District, Kaohsiung.
Veganism in the United Kingdom has skyrocketed in recent years, with the number of vegans quadrupling between 2014 and 2019. Despite my reservations about going vegan this January I’ve been spoilt for choice here in Brighton; which I must proudly note is regarded by many as the vegan capital of the country!
- “Chicken” burger made from deep fried oyster mushrooms!
- A portion of Vegan “fish” and chips will give you a taste of a British seaside staple. Whilst the “fish” can be made from a variety of products the most commonly used substitute is tofu.
- Get the best start to your day with a Vegan Full English Most breakfast restaurants and cafes across the country now offer a vegan alternative.
- The Roman baths in North East Somerset offer a glimpse into history, with the original construction dating back to 70CE
- Take a trip to the Jurassic coast and try your hand at fossil hunting in the picturesque seaside town of Lyme Regis in Dorset
- The country’s capital is in no shortage of activities; however, a personal favourite of mine is exploring the Brick Lane Markets with their eclectic mix of gorgeous garms and incredible food (much of which is vegan friendly!
Further reading: Vegetarianism listed by country and check out the many volunteer projects that could bring you to these very parts of the world.
Written by WorkingAbroad Blog Writer, Maisie Thorman