Best Destinations for Vegetarians
Across the globe, vegetarianism is on the rise and there seems to be no sign of this worldwide trend slowing down.
With fewer people eating meat, there comes a rise in vegetarian travellers, and often it’s hard to know which destinations cater well to a plant-based diet.
To help you navigate the world as a vegetarian traveller, our experts have put together this guide to the top 7 best destinations for vegetarians.
With 38% of the population being vegetarian, equivalent to around 500 million people, India tops the list as the best destination for vegetarians. Although meat consumption is fairly high in North India, with dishes such as butter chicken some of the region’s most famous exports, South India is a true paradise for vegetable lovers. Some states are more vegetarian friendly than others, but if you say you’re ‘veg’ you’ll be guaranteed a delicious meat-free meal just about anywhere in India.
Some of the most mouthwatering vegetarian Indian dishes include thalis (plates filled with 4 or 5 different curries), dosas, idlis and vadas – light open pancakes stuffed with different spiced vegetables. The latter three are all made with rice or lentil flour and served with sambal gravies or coconut chutneys, so they’re healthy as well as satisfying.
The Mediterranean diet is often hailed as one of the healthiest ways to eat, with fresh tomatoes and mouth watering mozzarella found at the top of many Italians’ shopping lists. Italy has the highest proportion of vegetarians in Europe, and has a real farm to table culture. Only the freshest of ingredients will do, and beyond just pizza and pasta, you can find many dishes that put vegetables at their centre.
Caprese salads are a nod to the versatility of tomatoes, eggplant parmigiana gives this vegetable the utmost respect and mushroom risotto is a comforting dish complemented by wonderful creamy flavours. Southern Italy is easier to navigate for vegetarians than the North, but you can find tasty vegetable dishes across the country.
Although Africa as a whole may be challenging for vegetarians, there’s one country in particular that stands out as the country’s saving grace. In Morocco, vegetable tagines, couscous, harira soups and tabbouleh salads can be found on every street corner. In Marrakech’s main market of Jemaa el Fnaa, you’re sure to find local vegetarian delights sold in every other market stall. Learn the phrase ‘Ana – nabatee,’ the Arabic equivalent of ‘I’m a vegetarian,’ and you shouldn’t have any problems in this diverse country.
4. United Kingdom
Although the UK is usually synonymous with roast dinners, its major cities are front runners in vegetarian cuisine. London is awash with vegetarian restaurants, pubs and even vegan doughnut shops and its Scottish equivalent Glasgow is slowly but surely following in its footsteps. In Glasgow, travellers can get their hands on vegetarian pub grub, a full cooked vegetarian breakfast or even a vegetarian version of haggis.
Vegetarian menus are appearing in all the big restaurant chains across the UK, and smaller independent outfits are jostling for a place on London’s packed streets. With Britain home to over three million vegetarians, veggie travellers are sure to feel at home here. Whatever your favourite food is, you’re bound to find something to suit in London – options range from vegetarian comfort food to health and wellness cafes.
A beacon of wellness, spirituality and health food, it’s no surprise that Indonesia is one of the world’s most vegetarian-friendly travel destinations. Vegetarians are well catered for here, as the island is predominantly Hindu. Dishes of note include gado gado (an Indonesian salad made from tofu, vegetables, rice crackers and peanut sauce), tempeh skewers, nasi padang (rice with vegetable curries) and even fruit-topped crepes for those seeking a taste of home. The main abundance of vegetarian and vegan restaurants can be found in spiritual Ubud; Bali is generally the easiest island for vegetarian travellers to eat their way through.
Similarly to the United Kingdom, Australia is often associated with fish or meat-heavy dishes. Barbequed shrimp and kangaroo burgers don’t suggest that this diverse country is a great fit for vegetarians. Today though, Australia is said to be the third fastest-growing vegetarian market in the world – after the UAE and China – so it’s no surprise that its major cities have made their marks as experts in vegetarian cuisine.
Hippie Melbourne is the best destination in Australia for vegetarian travellers, as more than 12 percent of the local population eating ‘little to no meat.’ The vegetarian food scene has continued to flourish in line with the eating habits of the locals – buddha bowls, matcha bao buns and completely vegetarian pizzerias are just some of the gems this creative city has to offer.
7. Sri Lanka
Often thought of as India’s spicier sibling when it comes to cuisine, Sri Lanka is a haven for vegetarian travellers. Rice and curry is the national dish, and if you’re a fussy vegetarian eater, you’re sure to take to at least one of the 10 or so curries served in a typical dish. Jackfruit, pumpkin, pineapple and beetroot curries are some of our favourites. If you’re looking for some protein alongside your carbs, try egg hoppers or vegetable kottu. Egg hoppers consist of tasty bowl-shaped pancakes served with an egg in the middle, while vegetable kottu is a comforting dish of fried vegetables and bread strips. It’s better than it sounds!
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