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The concept of eliminating foods from your diet through personal choice is something that is not familiar to large swathes of the global population, so it can be a struggle to communicate your needs at times. If you are travelling to a destination where scant knowledge of vegetarianism or veganism is the norm, it can be well worth getting a translation of your dietary requirements to show staff at restaurants. This avoids the confusion that can arise when – for example – you explain that you don’t eat fish, yet everything arrives with fish sauce. Check and double check is the advice, especially in out of the way or rural destinations.
That said, there are plenty of wonderful destinations that can offer great food to vegans and vegetarians, so we have picked our top five to inspire your next trip. It is often the case that destinations where food avoidance is part of the culture or religion will have a far better understanding of your requests, but happily there are some destinations which just happen to have a very veggie friendly cuisine already, and many more that are waking up to the rise of meat-free diets and adapting accordingly. Here are five of our top destinations where vegetarians and vegans will be spoilt for choice with a good selection of delicious dishes to try.
If you don’t eat meat but you love spicy food, India will be a revelation. Non-meat diets are common in India, so veggies and vegans will be spoilt for choice. Often the vegetarian dishes are the stars of the show, and you won’t be missing out on flavour by sticking to the plant based options here either.
Pulses and staple veg are elevated to dizzy heights of deliciousness when they are imaginatively cooked with layers of spices, herbs, coconut and so on for irresistible flavours and aromas. Gujarat and Kerala are two regions where the vegetarian and vegan cuisine is particularly celebrated, but you can find a good selection anywhere. After all, India is home to many millions of lifelong vegetarians and they have made meat free cuisine into an artform.
Try: dosa masala, vadai, idli, dal, thali
Sub-Saharan Africa can be tricky for vegetarians and vegans, but Ethiopia is an exception to this rule. It may appear at first glance to offer a meat heavy cuisine, but in fact the strong tradition of fasting and avoiding meat and dairy means Ethiopia is a great option. Orthodox Christianity is an important part of life for many Ethiopians, and to demonstrate their faith many devotees avoid eating meat and dairy for two days per week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, plus other significant occasions on the orthodox calendar such as lent. In total, an observant orthodox Christian in Ethiopia will ‘fast’ – avoid meat and dairy – for more than half the year. Even on non-fast days the selection of veggie and vegan options is great and most are delicious.
Try: injera, shiro wat, misir wat, yetsom beyaynetu, berbere spiced veg.
Combining the incredible cuisines of India and China together with Malay traditional dishes, the choice of food in Malaysia is staggering. Although nearby countries such as Thailand and Vietnam are catching up fast, Malaysia is streets ahead of many Southeast Asian nations in fully understanding the nature of vegetarianism and veganism.
Whereas in Thailand it is hard to avoid the ubiquitous fish sauce, in Malaysia there are more and more dedicated plant based restaurants and a better general understanding that avoiding eating animals also means avoiding all derivatives. Kuala Lumpur is full of meat free dining options, but Georgetown and Melaka make great veggie or vegan destinations too.
Try: nasi lemak, laksa, nasi campur, tahu sumbat.
Like most countries in the Middle East, Jordan is a good bet for vegans and vegetarians as many of the staple foods are plant based and available everywhere. Hummus and tahini are served with pretty much every dish, and mouth watering salads are a mainstay too. Picture a mezze platter of falafel, hummus, olives, babaganoush, deep green tabbouleh salad, some pickles and a basket of warm flatbread; a textbook middle eastern meal and 100% vegan, as well as 100% delicious.
For variety you could swap in some dolma – rice and herb stuffed vine leaves, warm spiced beans such as fuul or msabaha and choose fattoush salad instead of tabbouleh. Still delicious; still vegan. Sweet treats in Jordan suitable for vegans are harder to find – dairy heavy is the norm, but fruits and nuts are widely available and make a tasty alternative.
Try: all the above
Home of tempeh, a soybean cake a little like tofu, Indonesia has plenty of options for veggies and vegans. You would be hard pushed to find a cafe or restaurant without a dish suitable for vegetarians and vegans simply because a lot of Indonesian recipes are vegan by default. For the best selection, the classic wellness hub of Ubud on Bali is the destination of choice for non-meat eaters because it caters for an international crowd and there are dedicated vegan and vegetarian eateries aplenty. Neighbouring Lombok and the Gili islands are pretty vegan friendly too, but the whole of Indonesia has enough plant based dishes to keep you fed.
Try: Gado Gado, urap-urap, veg curry, tofu and tempeh dishes, and capcay.
Make it happen
Hungry for an adventure where the food can be one of the highlights of your trip? Why not get in touch with our local experts and start planning your bespoke trip today? Your taste buds will thank you! To find out more about these vegan and veggie friendly destinations, click on the links in the article, or to speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.