Across the globe, veganism is on the rise and there seems to be no sign of this worldwide trend slowing down.
With a rise in veganism comes a rise in vegan 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 vegan traveller, our experts have put together this guide to their favourite vegan-friendly travel destinations.
A beacon of wellness, spirituality and health food, it’s no surprise that Bali tops the list as one of the world’s most vegan-friendly travel destinations. Vegans are well catered for here, as the island is predominantly Hindu and even plays host to an annual Bali Vegan Festival each October. The main abundance of vegan restaurants can be found in spiritual Ubud. Specialities include smoothie bowls, vegan Gado Gado (an Indonesian salad made from tofu, rice crackers and peanut sauce), tempeh skewers, fruit-topped crepes and vegan ice cream.
In Bali, veganism is much more than just an afterthought. It is taken so seriously in Bali that the island even houses the world’s first vegan cinema. Truly one of a kind, Paradiso plays host to workshops, dance classes, yoga, art exhibitions and serves vegan food throughout film screenings. It’s a great place to satisfy your tastebuds and meet a whole host of fellow vegan travellers. If you want to experience veganism through the eyes of a local though, there are few better ways of doing so than cooking alongside one. On a Jacada wellness and spirituality voyage through Bali, travellers can learn the true art of vegetarian Balinese cooking from a local leader of the Shiva Hindu community.
Although the UK may not spring immediately to mind when you think of veganism, its major cities are front runners in vegan cuisine. London is awash with vegan restaurants, pubs and doughnut shops and its Scottish equivalent Glasgow is slowly but surely following in its footsteps. Vegan menus are appearing in all the big restaurant chains, and smaller independent outfits are jostling for a place on London’s packed streets. With the Vegan Society predicting that there is at least 542,000 vegans in Britain, vegans 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 vegan pizzerias and vegan chicken shops to vegan gelatarias.
Scotland’s second city, Glasgow, evokes images of historic museums and eclectic culture, but there’s more to discover here beyond the beautiful architecture. Voted by PETA as the most vegan-friendly city in the UK, Glasgow is a city filled with vegan treats. In the cosmopolitan city centre, travellers can get their hands on vegan pub grub, a full cooked vegan breakfast or even a vegan version of haggis. For an environmentally conscious stay in the city, we recommend Blythswood Square Hotel. Rainwater use, solar roof panels and geothermal heating all make this property one of the most forward-thinking in Scotland. Offering a luxurious stay in a historic setting, it’s a great place to unwind after a day of eating your way around town.
With national dishes including ceviche (fresh local fish marinated in lime juice), cuy chactado (roasted guinea pig) and lomo saltado (sautéed beef), Peru may not immediately spring to mind as a top destination for vegans. In more rural areas, though, Peruvian locals eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Staples include potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruit – Peru is even the birthplace of the potato, with over 2,500 varieties native to the Peruvian Andes.
Cusco is a particularly vegan-friendly city, with 10 vegan restaurants and 12 vegetarian ones. The list is only growing, as the vegan trend continues to be on the rise. If you’re a sweet-toothed vegan, you won’t be hard pressed to find something to satisfy your taste buds either. Peru’s chocolate is world-renowned, and the country’s cocoa beans are often described as the best in the world. As the cocoa is so concentrated, few additives are required, making the majority of the chocolate vegan – it’s both ethical and delicious.
For those who prefer savoury flavours to sweet ones, quinoa can be found on every street in Peru. It’s one of the few crops that is able to withstand the altitudes of the Andes Mountains, so is found across Latin America. Peru is the world’s top quinoa exporter, and this delicious grain can be found in even the most remote regions.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Similar to Bali, Thailand has become synonymous with the eco-conscious vegan traveller. While there are some downsides to this digital nomad trend, the upside is that vegan food is never far away. Veganism isn’t a recent trend in Thailand – Thai Buddhists have been eating vegan for years. If you’re concerned about fish sauce, eggs or meat stock making an appearance in your food, let your waiter know that you’re “gin jay,” and the dish is sure to come out vegan.
Chiang Mai has put itself firmly on the map as a vegan foodie destination, housing everything from Thai curry houses to Burmese tea leaf salad joints. Mouthwatering dishes in the city include fermented mushroom sausage, colourful Thai curries and curried tofu with vegetables. For a deeper insight into Thai cuisine, take part in a vegan cooking class or visit the annual Thai Vegetarian Festival. This festival takes place during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, which sees local Thai people eat only vegetarian – and mostly vegan – food for 9 days.
As a country whose cuisine traditionally consists of barbequed shrimp and kangaroo burgers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Australia’s vegan scene is nothing to write home about. Today though, Australia is said to be the third fastest-growing vegan market in the world – after the UAE and China – so it’s no surprise that two of its major cities have made their mark as experts in vegan food. In Melbourne, more than 12 percent of the local population eats ‘little to no meat,’ and the vegan scene has continued to flourish in line with the eating habits of the locals. Those following a plant-based diet are spoilt for choice here; options range from buddha bowls and matcha bao buns to a completely vegan pizzeria.
In Sydney, new vegan eateries are springing up every month so you won’t be hard-pressed to find a satisfying vegan meal. The best place to head for vegan dining is Newtown, where standouts include Green Gourmet, serving buffet and à la carte Chinese food; Sappho Books, a bohemian garden cafe-bar nestled in the back of a charming bookshop, is another great place to eat.
India is home to the highest population of vegetarians in the world, so non meat eaters will feel right at home. Options aren’t limited to buddha bowls or vegan alternatives here, as much of India’s traditional cuisine happens to be vegetarian without necessarily trying. Indian cuisine is also heavy in dairy products though, such as ghee (butter), paneer and milk-based lassis and curries, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for hidden ingredients. However, if you do notice a dairy product you’re not keen on consuming, it’s easy enough to get them swapped for non-dairy alternatives with the help of a local translator.
Vegan dishes are readily available to buy everywhere from street vendors and more upmarket restaurants, and some of our favourites include aloo puri, masala dosa and lentil dhal. Non-meat snacks tend to be vegan too, with the ubiquitous samosa never far away. Vegan options are plentiful in India, and if you seek out restaurants that say ‘pure vegetarian,’ everything on the menu is likely to be cooked without eggs. From pani puri to stuffed paratha, you’re sure to find something that’s healthy, delicious and satisfying in India.
As an island nation, most of Iceland’s cuisine traditionally centres around fish, seafood and hearty meat dishes. In line with world trends, there’s recently been a significant increase in vegetarianism and veganism across the country. Most restaurants provide vegan options, but the choice can be limited, so it’s worth seeking out vegan-friendly spots before you travel.
Some of our favourites are Gló, Kaffi Vinyl and Gardurinn: Ecstasy’s Heart Garden. Gló is the most well-known vegetarian restaurant in Reykjavik, offering a range of options for both vegans and vegetarians at four different spots across the city. Specialising in raw foods, all the dishes are made from organic ingredients ensuring high quality and exceptional taste. For dedicated vegans, Kaffi Vinyl offers an all-vegan menu within an eclectic atmosphere of a small record store. With music played by DJs all day and a laid-back vibe, this hole in the wall restaurant is great for leisurely lunch breaks and people watching. Must-sample dishes include the black quinoa burger and peanut noodles. At Gardurinn, only two items are available on the menu each day, so everything is guaranteed to be made fresh and to perfection.