Following a vegan or vegetarian diet can be tricky when traveling abroad. This is especially true in countries where eating meat or animal products is part of the culture.
Argentina is famous for its steak and butter-filled pastries, and Thailand is known for putting fish-sauce in everything.
But then, what are the best places to travel to when you're a vegan? Or, is there a country that has the most vegetarian-friendly cuisine?
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of the best places you can easily travel to and find delicious food as a vegan. You’ll get to support local communities abroad as a volunteer while knowing your dietary requirements are catered for. Talk about two tofus with one stone.
Our top recommendations include countries like:
- Sri Lanka
Many of these countries' dietary habits are influenced heavily by their culture or religion. In others, the locals have adapted to a more plant-based way of eating due to the high cost of meat and other animal products.
However, no matter what the dietary standard is in the country you visit, your host family will always accommodate your dietary requirements as best they can. There’s also plenty more you’ll find out if you stay with a host family abroad.
Without further ado, let’s get into our list of the most vegan-friendly countries. They'll leave you with great inspo for future trips!
Vegan/Vegetarian Travel Destination #1 - Nepal
Nepal is no stranger to the green diet. One of the most popular dishes is dal bhat, a type of soup with boiled rice and vegetables. It’s eaten at least once a day and is a staple among trekkers as well.
Another popular dish is Momo. It’s a dumpling made from water and flour, that can be made with meat or vegetables. You may just need to brush up on your Nepali just to be sure there’s no meat inside before you bite into one. You can find Momo at any restaurant and we urge you to try it. You might even learn how to make it with your host family!
Another common vegan food you can find is rotis. This is a type of flatbread usually served with curries. Rotis are the perfect snack for when you’re on the go; exploring markets or strolling through the streets. These aren’t the only vegan and vegetarian dishes around, but certainly the most accessible.
Vegan/Vegetarian Travel Destination #2 - Madagascar
Leaving the top of the world for an island off the coast of Southern Africa, you’ll find your vegan options are thankfully just as abundant. The Malagasy people indulge in traditional rice-based meals three times a day, cooked differently each time. This will usually be accompanied by veggies and meat, especially at supper time.
Of course, you can substitute the meat for more cooked veggies. On the other hand, if you're not used to eating rice three times a day, there are some alternatives. One of the most common dishes is Mi Sao, a noodle soup served with veggies or meat (more veggies in your case!).
As a vegan or vegetarian visiting the island, the locals are friendly and more than happy to offer you any vegetarian or vegan options.
Vegan/Vegetarian Travel Destination #3 - Peru
Home to one of the most renowned World Heritage Sites in South America, Peru is a culinary cornucopia for vegans and vegetarians. This popular region bagged the world’s leading culinary destination award for eight years running. It’s no surprise really, given that it has 11 different ecoregions, so you can just imagine all the fresh, local ingredients they have at hand!
The Peruvians have assimilated many different cultures into their own, along with the tasty foods those cultures brought with them. Most notably, Chinese and Japanese culture. A lot of the favoured dishes are adapted for vegans and vegetarians. Pescatarians would have an absolute blast since seafood is also widely available.
Some of our volunteers’ favourites are:
- Mushroom and asparagus risotto
- Vegan Pancakes
- Zucchini (marrow) and rice cream
- Chickpea Burgers
- Tofu soltero (a simple, delicious salad with beans, onions, and sometimes potato)
- Mushroom Carapulcra (a type of dehydrated potato stew with nuts and spices)
And the list goes on! These mouth-watering examples answer the question: “What is it like for a vegetarian or vegan to travel around the world?” with a resounding “Delicious!”.
Vegan/Vegetarian Travel Destination #4 - Samoa
As a vegan, how do you manage meals abroad or on holiday? Some self-proclaimed experts (ourselves) say a good starting point is choosing the right location. In this case - Samoa! Another island destination with a natural liking to the good and green. Their secret weapon? The umu. This is a make-shift oven in the ground used by heating lava rocks with a fire. They then place the food directly on the rocks or wrap it in banana leaves or coconut fronds.
That’s what we call living off the land. Besides their innovative oven, they have a variety of exotic fruits and veggies you’ll love.
One of the vegan favourites in Samoa is Palusami. This meal is made by forming a bowl from taro leaves and adding fresh coconut cream, salt, pepper, and onions. After letting the umu do it’s thing it becomes soft and delicious.
They’ve also gotten creative with their breakfasts, using coconut milk and natural ground cacao. With these raw beauties, they whip up meals like:
- Koko alaisa (chocolate milk)
- Koko esi (chocolate papaya)
- Suafa'i (banana porridge)
- Vaisalo (coconut cream, lime, and tapioca pearls)
If you’re the type of person who loves breakfast food, then you may have just found your new home!
Vegan/Vegetarian Travel Destination #5 - Jamaica
Last on our list of destinations for vegan and vegetarian vacations is Jamaica. This chilled island is widely accepting of vegetarian and vegan diets, largely because of Asian influences. These also helped shape the diet held by Rastafarians, who also follow a vegan or vegetarian diet called ‘Ital’.
The philosophy behind the Ital diet is to improve life by only eating organic foods from the earth. This means followers of the Ital diet avoid processed foods and meats. Because of this, you can expect to find many fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs in Jamaica.
Rastafarian eateries also make some powerful fruit juices, just bursting with flavour and nutritional benefits. Your best bet for vegan foods is the Jamaican restaurants. You’ll find you have quite a few options available, like:
If there’s something you want and it’s not vegan or vegetarian, just ask. Jamaican people are kind and welcoming, so they’ll be happy to accommodate you.
Something that will become a quick favourite is the Jamaican fruit and juices. Juice bars and cafes have a variety of filling combinations for you to sip on while you meander around the markets. You’ll also get to see firsthand where fruits, veggies, and herbs are grown if you explore the mountains or plantations. It’s a breathtaking experience strolling through the mountain with the scent of garlic, thyme, and other herbs floating through the air.
These amazing destinations are perfect for vegans and vegetarians. You won’t have to flip over every rock in the city to find a vegan-friendly restaurant. They’re readily available because of their incredible cultures.
Beyond the food you’ll find in every country, we’ll always accommodate your dietary requirements at your accommodation. Your host families will do their best to serve suitable dishes for you as well, whether you’re vegan or not.
This means that if you travel with non-vegan friends, everyone will have a dietary option.
We only have one question left: In which vegan holiday destination will you discover what you’re capable of?