The availability of good vegan food can make or break a holiday. There are towns, regions and countries that surprise you by the overwhelming choice, while others you might expect to be progressive turn out to be something of a disappointment. Like the restaurant in America where the chef came out to look me over before deciding whether to make me a meal, and the waitress said ‘You’re vegetarian? We had one in just last week!’ To avoid being sized up by chefs, here are a few places where you are bound to be well fed as a vegan.
While eating out in rural France can be tricky, most cities have now veggie/vegan restaurants. La Rochelle, Toulouse, Nice, Marseille and many others have at least one vegan restaurant and many veggie restaurants, and Paris is a vegan heaven. Since Lebanese restaurants are common in towns and cities right across the country, and there are plenty of organic food shops selling vegan products, you won’t go hungry.
Moving east, Germany has seen a huge surge in the number of vegan restaurants, with Berlin becoming the place to go if you want to be spoiled for choice. With an estimated 80,000 vegans in the city, there has been an explosion of catering outlets from a vegan ice cream parlour to a kebab shop (right) to a vegan butcher. With more than 60 totally vegan restaurants in the city, you can visit a different one for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of a three-week holiday, and that’s before you think about visiting the veggie restaurants that have incredible vegan offerings, too.
Perhaps a surprise vegan destination is Poland. Warsaw has around 30 totally vegan restaurants but you’ll be well fed in Gdasnk, Lodz, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan, and elsewhere too. There are so many foods to try, from gourmet burgers to borscht, but it would be a mistake not to try pierogi – the delicious stuffed dumplings.
To the north of the continent, an estimated 10 per cent of the Swedish population are meat-free, with that figure rising to 17 per cent in those aged 15 to 34. The future in Sweden is vegan. Stockholm, Malmo (left) and Gothenburg unsurprisingly lead the way with a handful of vegan restaurants each and a larger number of veggies ones that serve vegan meals.
America is a divided nation, that much is obvious. And this also true when it comes to veganism. Some of the unsurprising top cities for vegans include New York, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. Other cities with more than 100 meat-free restaurants include Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta and Austin. Chicago and Dallas are surprisingly good, according to Pricenomics, the data tracking site, given the ‘meat-centric regional cuisines like brats and barbecue’. But whilst the coastal areas and big cities are great for vegans, smaller towns – especially those in the central and Midwest states – can be a bit of a vegan wasteland, so take supplies if you’re planning to take a long roadtrip across the United States.
Every city in Australia caters for veggies and vegans, with Melbourne perhaps being the best option. In Perth on the west coast, we ate at every meat-free restaurant over a 10-day period and it was the first time I’d been offered vegan pheasant and vegan prawns. Honestly, neither appealed, but the vegetarian burger chain, Lord of the Fries (right), which has outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, is a good bet.
Around 30 per cent of people in India are meat-free, with Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab having the most vegetarians and vegans per capita. In India – like the world over – it is easy to be vegan in the cities, but the country is both the largest producer and the largest buyer of milk, and dairy products get used a lot, so watch out for milk, cream, and ghee (butter oil). If you want choice, head to Chennai, which has more than 80 vegetarian restaurants.
In Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to be, with dozens of meat-free restaurants in this beautiful city. In Taipei, Taiwan, you’ll also be spoilt for choice and you’ll be in the birthplace of the Loving Hut, a vegan franchise that has restaurants in Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Singapore, Russia, New Zealand, Canada and four restaurants in the UK, so if you fancy holidaying closer to home, try London, Brighton or Norwich.
But no matter where you are in the world, be sure to check Happy Cow to find out where the best vegan-friendly restaurants are.