Easy destinations for vegan travel

The funny thing about vegan travel is that although the concept of veganism is still practically unknown in many countries, their cuisine and traditional ways of life lend themselves naturally to veganism. Ethiopia is a good example. Your typical Ethiopian villager will probably have never heard of the growing global vegan movement, but in all likelihood they follow the religion of Orthodox Christianity, as half the population do, in which case they will abstain from animal products for between 180 and 250 days a year.

So although Ethiopians do consume a lot of meat (in the lead-up to any of the country’s many religious festivals, for instance, or on any Wednesday or Friday throughout the year), you will find plant-based cuisine pretty much everywhere using lentils, beans, vegetables or the ubiquitous injera bread. Ethiopia is a fascinating destination for cultural, religious and adventure travel and it’s also a perfect place for the inquisitive vegan.
The potential difficulties of sticking to your diet and principles while traveling is one of the biggest impediments that many people face when going ‘full vegan’. If you want to see the world, that means you also have to be flexible sometimes on what you eat, right? Well, no, not necessarily. You might be met with blank stares at some restaurants or street food stalls if you ask what they have that’s suitable for vegans, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing available for you to eat. Far from it.
We’ve looked at Ethiopia. Here are a few more great vegan vacation destinations that are as ideal for long-time vegan travelers as they are for newbies looking for an easy introduction. Negotiating the language barrier tends to be key. A comprehensive resource such as the Vegan Passport ensures that you have the lingo you need wherever you are in the world to get your requirements across. And if you want to go somewhere that’s difficult to find good, reliable vegan food – even if you have the right phrases at your fingertips – then join an organised tour led by an expert vegan guide.

Australia

Strange as it may seem where the ‘barbie’ is so deeply rooted in the national culture, Australia has some of the highest rates of vegetarianism and veganism per capita in the world. Rising interest in personal fitness and concerns about climate change are seeing a wave of vegan-friendly dishes being added to menus. The growing vegan movement is not without controversy, but gradually red meat is giving up some space on the grill.

Germany

Along with Tel Aviv, Berlin is reckoned to be one of the easiest cities in the world to be a vegan, but many other German cities are just as pro-plant as the capital. Surging interest in ethical consumerism and flexitarianism means that Germany is a global leader in vegan food development.

Greece

Pythagoras was a vegetarian, but he wouldn’t touch beans – he believed they had a soul. Epicurus is also thought to have been a vegetarian, and of course the philosophy drawn from his teachings is all about living a life of pleasure, free from pain, so he presumably saw the benefits of a largely plant-based diet. A Mediterranean cuisine featuring lots of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables, as well as Greek Orthodoxy involving regular fasting, makes Greece great for vegan travelers.

India

Belief systems such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism all encourage reducing the consumption of meat, and are highly influential in Indian culture. It’s a myth that most Indians are vegetarian. Only around 20 percent is the likeliest figure, but that rises to 75 percent in some states such as Punjab. Vegans should have very little difficulty eating well on India vacations, with more vegetable-based dishes found in the north of the country, but much less dairy in the south.

Italy

Italy is so renowned for its rich, meat-heavy dishes that many people think that traveling there as a vegan would be very difficult. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The national cuisine derives from cucina povera (the food of the poor), which is mainly plant-based. And the first pizza ever invented – the marinara – is entirely vegan, topped with tomato sauce, garlic and oregano. Specialist vegan foodie tours of Italy let you dive headfirst into one of Europe’s most ravishing cuisines with no need whatsoever to compromise on taste.

Middle East

Plant-based diets are so popular in Israel that even the military now incorporates vegan food options for soldiers. You’re going to encounter a lot of meat on the menu in countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, but you will also find it a breeze to go vegan with enticing dishes focusing around tabouleh, chickpeas and eggplants, especially when it comes to mezze meals that include a lot of small plates.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is another country where veganism as a concept is largely unknown but you can actually find vegan food with ease. A very religious country where people are used to accommodating different diets, Sri Lanka also has a cuisine like Ethiopia that is frequently plant-based. Vegan tours here take you through spice markets, tea plantations and curry-making lessons on local farms.

Thailand

Thailand must be one of the most exciting countries in the world to travel as a foodie, and following a vegan diet is absolutely no barrier to enjoying the street food of Bangkok, the stalls at the Chiang Mai night market, or the charms of a homestay. You’ll try mushroom tempura, steamed curry mousse in banana leaves, coconut rice pancakes and chive dumplings on a vegan vacation in Thailand. Plus, you’ll get the chance to learn how to put a vegan spin on a whole range of curries.

Our top Vegan Vacation

Vegan vacation in Belize, multi activity

Vegan vacation in Belize, multi activity

Sand in your vegan friendly sandals guaranteed!

From US $1365 7 days ex flights
Small group travel:
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Vegan or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Destination tips for vegan vacations

Neil Coletta, from our specialist travel operator Intrepid Travel, shares his favourite easy vegan destinations:

Veganism made easy

“In terms of whether it's getting easier to travel as a vegan I would say yes overall. We have access to so much information and so many online resources now – not only for finding places to eat, but also being able to quickly translate a menu, or translate questions you may have instantly to the local language. There are also increasingly more vegan options, especially in bigger cities.”

Take your pick

“There will likely be some activities on these trips that won't accommodate vegans – like visiting a Parmesan factory on our Italian real food adventure, for example – but for the most part we can provide vegan options in many destinations. Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India, South India, Sri Lanka, Israel & the Palestinian Territories, plus Jordan all come to mind as very doable.”

Bella Italia

“It’s getting easier all the time to eat vegan food in Italy, although it's the one of the trips that people are most surprised by. We really wanted to give vegan travelers to Italy a high level gastronomic experience that would rival other, more traditional food tours to the country.”

From pasta to gelato

"We connect customers with a passionate local leader and small growers and producers while maintaining a focus on traditional foods, including a wide variety of pastas (dried, without eggs) and sauces, pizzas (cheeseless but with an endless range of toppings), fresh vegetables enjoyed raw, stuffed, or roasted with olive oil, soups, stews, and of course eggless gelato and fresh fruit sorbets.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Edgar Castrejon] [Top box (Ethiopian fasting food): Rod Waddington] [Greece: Weekend Wayfarers] [Middle east: Unai Guerra] [From pasta to gelato: Gronkca]
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