8 Great Vacation Destinations for Vegetarians and Vegans

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

Is food a big consideration when you’re planning a trip? Dining out on vacation is a great way to appreciate local tradition and get to the heart of a culture. Whether it’s a place renowned for its health-conscious eateries and plant-based restaurants or a part of the world where people tend to avoid meat, here are eight places that make great vacation destinations for vegetarians or vegans.

Germany

Lucky Leek street food cafe selling take away food.
Credit: Eden Breitz/ Alamy Stock Photo

According to statistics from 2020, roughly 6.5 million of 83 million residents in Germany either identified as vegetarians or preferred not to eat meat on a regular basis. While the consumption of meat remained stable, about 13% of all new food products launched in Germany in 2018 were vegan. It’s not hard to find good vegetarian and vegan food, particularly in Berlin, which is often referred to as Europe’s vegan capital.

Book one of the city’s numerous vegan food tours for an overview of the plant-based food scene before sampling the menu at a few of the city’s excellent restaurants. One of the best is Kopps, a meat-free fine-dining restaurant in the central neighborhood of Mitte. For something similarly upscale, head to the neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg to try Lucky Leek, whose tasting menus have earned it a mention in the Michelin Guide.

United States

Off the Griddle, a vegan restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
Credit: Scott Biales DitchTheMap/ Shutterstock

In the United States, the vegan and vegetarian movements have long been associated with cities on the West Coast. According to recent data, Portland, Oregon, has the highest number of dedicated vegan restaurants per capita in the country (6.3 per 100,000 residents), closely followed by San Francisco (5.3) and Seattle (4.9). But in fact, provisions for those choosing to go plant-based are far more widespread — a trend recognized by PETA in a 2020 survey, which highlighted smaller vegan-friendly hot spots for dining out. Asheville, North Carolina; Dayton, Ohio; and Frederick, Maryland, were the top three picks.

That’s not all. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, you’d miss out if you passed up the chance to dine at Seva or Fresh Forage. And you don’t even need to step out of your hotel room to sign up for an online class with Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen to learn how to cook plant-based recipes at home.

Lebanon

Assorted dishes of Middle Eastern food from Lebanon.
Credit: MiguelMalo/ iStock

Healthy and flavorsome, Lebanese cuisine is a great fit for vegetarians, thanks to commonly used ingredients such as fresh vegetables, grains, and cheese. Hummus, for instance, is a staple, featuring boiled and mashed chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice.

Other Lebanese favorites include tabbouleh, a fresh salad made from bulgur wheat, parsley, and tomatoes; baba ghannouj, a tasty eggplant-based dip; and warak enab, delicious stuffed grape leaves commonly enjoyed across the Middle East and parts of the Mediterranean. Health-conscious patrons also won’t want to pass up the chance to try falafel, spicy fried balls of chickpeas that can be served as a snack or as part of a mezze platter.

England

A vegan "Teriyaki Chick'n" burger from Mildred's in London.
Credit: Leon Neal/ Getty Images News via Getty Images

Veganism and vegetarianism have really taken off in England in recent years. A recent survey found that the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. Cosmopolitan London has a long tradition of embracing food from around the world, and visitors will appreciate the large variety of plant-based eateries and restaurants.

Across the British capital, there’s no shortage of cafés and restaurants that cater to this increased demand. Pay a visit to Mildred’s, which opened its first restaurant in Soho back in 1988 and now boasts half a dozen London locations. Fancy Pied à Terre in the upscale neighborhood of Fitzrovia has held a Michelin star since the early 1990s for its inventive vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Farther east, Vida Bakery on trendy Brick Lane specializes in vegan cakes and cookies; incidentally, the same street is famous for its vegetarian-friendly curry houses.

New Zealand

Close up of a sandwich at a vegan food expo in New Zealand.
Credit: Warren Freeman/ Shutterstock

In 2020, New Zealand ranked fifth globally for vegan searches on Google. The country emphasizes consuming farm-fresh produce and embracing a healthy lifestyle, despite the importance of animal agriculture in the economy.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to eat as a vegetarian or vegan, the New Zealand Vegetarian Society’s website has a handy list of vegan and vegetarian-friendly cafés and restaurants. Many are concentrated in the capital of Wellington, including popular Aroha in the food court referred to as Press Hall. The country’s largest city, Auckland, also has an abundance of meat-free eateries. Khu Khu Eatery puts a vegan spin on Thai food in the hip Ponsonby neighborhood.

India

Indian Hindu vegetarian Thali food platter.
Credit: Indian Food Images/ Shutterstock

It’s a common misconception that most Indians are vegetarians; in fact, people with plant-based diets comprise less than 30% of the population, according to data collected in a 2014 national census. Nevertheless, it’s easy to find delicious vegetarian dishes across the country.

In many cases, ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans supply the protein as a substitute for meat or fish. Potatoes, eggplant, okra, broccoli, and cauliflower are also heavily featured in Indian cuisine. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices, order a vegetarian thali. It’s a selection of dishes served on a tray — a great way to work out what you like best.

Italy

Delicious Italian fresh burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and olive oil.
Credit: La_vanda/ iStock

Vegetarianism and veganism are growing in popularity in Italy. Many of the country’s signature dishes are plant-based, pleasing those who prefer to cut down on their meat consumption rather than cut it out entirely. Vegetarians can feast on creamy Puglian burrata paired with sliced tomatoes, but if you prefer not to eat cheese, order a classic pasta pomodoro with sauce made from onions, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh basil.

In Venice, don’t pass on the chance to dine at la Tecia Vegana, the city’s first all-vegan restaurant that emphasizes using only organic produce. A little to the south in Bologna, Botanica Lab prides itself on offering seasonal plant-based cuisine. The central markets in both Florence and Rome are each home to a branch of Veg and Veg, whose meat-free burgers are as delicious as any beef patty. Meanwhile, close to Rome’s main train station, there’s Rifugio Romano, whose extensive vegan menu is both innovative and tasty.

Sri Lanka

Top view of rice and curry vegetarian food arranged for dinner in Sri Lanka.
Credit: Nuwan Liyanage/ Shutterstock

If you’re a vegetarian who likes your food hot and spicy, few places on the planet compare to Sri Lanka. This island liberally uses cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, and chili powder in the local cuisine. These spices elevate humble curries to become memorable meals. Fish is on most menus, but vegetables like jackfruit, okra, beans, eggplant (known locally as brinjal), and breadfruit are also given the chance to shine. Street food vendors are famous for serving kottu, which is chopped-up roti fried with vegetables and spicy curry.

The national dish of Sri Lanka is rice and curry. The addition of spicy lunu miris (make sure it’s a fish-free version) or pol sambol (made from coconut, chili powder, and lime) gives it a kick, but stick to kiri hodi or dhal curry if you prefer a milder dish. For a bit of variety, switch out the rice for hoppers, a bowl-shaped pancake usually served with egg, or string hoppers, which are steamed rice noodles. Round off your meal with a Sri Lankan crêpe stuffed with pani pol (shredded coconut and honey) or kiribath, a creamy rice cake.

Share this article:

More from the Blog

Related article image

8 Micro Attractions Around the World

Related article image

10 of the Best Scenic Drives in U.S. National Parks

Related article image

5 Mythical Places and Where They’re Believed to Be