Whatever your reasons for eating a mainly plant-based diet, these days you should be able to find vegan and vegetarian cuisine in most major cities in the world. It wasn't always this way, so yay for progress! Traveling with dietary restrictions or eating with health and sustainability in mind is easier than ever and extends beyond Veganuary. You'll find much more than French fries, gloopy sides of spinach and butternut, or boring old-school salads at hotels, on cruises, and on the streets. The hospitality industry is shifting to incorporate more seasonal produce and focusing on flavor. We hope you have your passport ready for a taste of this burgeoning trend.
India is not new to the plant-based trend. Religious beliefs have led to centuries of carefully crafted ovo-lacto vegetarian and vegan dishes. This is the same country that chicken tikka masala hails from, so expect meals that are wondrously spiced and filling. Think delicious lentil dhals with rice and sweet and sour pickles, or ricotta-like paneer jalfrezi mopped up with buttery flatbreads. Street food highlights include potato chaat, samosas, and crispy pani puri with mint and tangy tamarind chutneys. Bombay Canteen in Mumbai is a must-visit.
The U.S. innovates in the food space almost as much as it does in Silicon Valley. And indeed, many of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly places in the country are in the Bay Area or other West Coast cities like Portland or Seattle. Between copious food trucks and markets and Beyond Meat offerings, there's something for everyone. NYC stands out too. Acclaimed fine dining establishment Eleven Madison Park recently went vegan, and New York boasts five restaurants on the "Plant-Forward Global 50" list. Disney theme park visitors can also rest assured that Orlando and Tampa are awash with eateries to suit herbivores and carnivores alike.
Phuket holds a nine-day vegetarian festival every year around September and October. It's a detox to coincide with the Taoist celebration of the nine emperors. The religious festival involves daring and sometimes frightening trance-induced physical feats, so consider whether your appetite can best handle eating before or after you view these rituals.
The food itself includes a lot of protein alternatives that look like their meaty counterparts. Enquire whether items are made from soy or plant-based ingredients if you're not sure.
P.S. don't sleep on Bangkok. The culinary scene is on the rise, and more vegan-friendly eateries open up every day.
The Spanish love their jamón, chorizo, and cold cuts, it's true. But in the last few years, Spain has become a top vegan destination with a surge of food establishments that fit the bill and others that have upped their game. Look for green V symbols on menus to ensure your food won't arrive with sprinklings of meat products. Try El Invernadero in Madrid or Azurmendi in Larrabetzu if you're keen on Michelin stars. Or keep it simple with refreshing gazpacho, vegan tapas, paella de verduras, patatas bravas, pisto and more.
The Caribbean is home to many Rastafarians, and Rastas tend to be vegans or vegetarians. Rastafarian Creole cooking is also known as Ital cooking; that's vital without the 'v' to symbolize the speaker's unity with nature. Ital cooking is nourishing—it skips processed food and limits unhealthy ingredients like sugar and salt. But don't be fooled into thinking the cuisine is bland because the locals are well-versed in their spices. From ackee and fried plantains to Jerk food with tofu and tempeh, there are dozens of unique dishes to indulge in on these gorgeous islands.
Australia is a vegan haven. You won't struggle to find beautiful and tasty plant-based meals in any of its major cities and towns, and clear labeling on products makes self-catering that much easier. In terms of highlights, there's Orana in Adelaide, Alibi in the Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel in Sydney, and Smith and Daughters in Melbourne, to name a few top spots. See if you can get a reservation at Brae in Birregurra. It's one of Australia's best restaurants and a working organic farm.
Turkish breakfast spreads are a thing of legend. The bread seems bottomless, teapots are frequently refilled, and the mezze and shakshuka collectively make for a very satisfying all-day meal. If the idea of olives, stuffed peppers, fried aubergine, yogurt, nut-based dips, hummus, cheeses, jams, and honey makes your mouth water, you'll love a trip to Anatolia. Vegans should start digging in with dolmas, çiğ köfte, pilaki, vegan baklava, and savory or sweet gözleme. Check out the restaurants Mikla and Kantin in Istanbul to round out the experience.
It's hard to beat London in the foodie department. The city is even more diverse than New York is, so the variety of available cuisines means your stomach will always be happy within a 20-mile radius of Buckingham Palace. Make a reservation at Ottolenghi for veggie dishes with Middle Eastern flair. There's also fusion food at The Gate or Broadway Vegan Market for a yummy stroll.
The vegan and veggie scene in South Africa is growing. Lexi's Healthy Eatery has branches in major cities. And Ethiopian restaurants like Queen Sheba and Little Addis Cafe in Joburg serve vegan and vegetarian meals with spongy injera bread and fiery Berbere spice. Cape Town is probably the most vegan-friendly city in the country—have a look at @vegfriendlycapetown on Instagram for dine-out ideas, including Coco Safar, The Shed, Johnny Shawarma, Nourish'D, and more.
Dubai packs a real foodie punch for its size. The city revolves around events, dining, and leisure, so of course, there are vegan and vegetarian establishments to suit almost every palate. In 2022, the city hosted its first Vegan Food Festival at Expo 2020 Dubai. This development bodes well for the future and can only mean good things for those who eat green.