What is your favorite destination?
Anyone who has ever traveled for an extended period of time knows how difficult it is to answer that question, and we're no exception. In fact, the more we travel the harder it gets. There are just too many aspects that play a part, and each place you visit offers something unique.
That being said, as two people that love food, we travel in search of unforgettable culinary experiences. Naturally, it makes sense that our favorite travel destinations are some of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world. And even though we can't pick just one favorite, we do have several.
So, which countries are the easiest to travel in as a vegan?
After 6+ years of extended travel, we've found the following destinations to be the best countries for vegans.
We hope this list will inspire your wanderlust and help you decide on your next travel destination or give you the push you need to venture outside of your comfort zone and try some new local delights.
On that note, let's dig in!
When we first arrived in Sri Lanka in 2014 after a 24+ hour journey from the United States, we had one thing on our minds: food.
Lucky enough, our accommodation was just down the street from one of the many pure vegetarian restaurants. So, within 2 hours of landing in Sri Lanka, we had a table covered in thalis, dosas, idlis, and other vegan delights in front of us.
The staff at the restaurant looked at us in awe as we shoveled food in our mouths for a solid hour before we headed back to the hostel and passed out from a combination of jetlag and food coma.
The day after we stumbled upon a small local restaurant specializing in Sri Lankan breakfast, and this is where our love for string hoppers and Sri Lankan coconut sambal began.
Needless to say, this nameless local hole in the wall quickly became our go-to spot...until we left Colombo that is. Because as soon as we ventured out of Colombo, life-changing food experiences were everywhere to be found!
Everywhere we went the locals cooked up mouthwatering vegan food with flavors that were completely new to us.
We tried jackfruit for the first time and had to triple check with the chef that it wasn’t chicken. We ate papadums like there was no tomorrow on the beach in Unawatuna, and were served some of the best food we’ve had to this day.
Seriously, we didn't have a single bad meal anywhere in Sri Lanka, an extremely impressive feat to say the least.
The best part about Sri Lanka, however, is the traditional custom of serving a feast.
When we ordered one curry, we were served at least two additional curries, endless amounts of rice, and several side dishes. It was heaven for two gluttons like us.
- Favorite Dish: String hoppers with coconut sambal.
- Favorite Restaurant: Any small family owned restaurant will blow you away!
Italy is sort of an ironic paradox.
The country is known for its world-class cheeses and prosciutto, but believe it or not, Italy is also one of the best countries for vegans in the world.
Yes, Italians have a love for cheese that’s only shared by the French. And yes, they do eat croissants and drink cappuccinos every morning. But guess what? You can find vegan versions of all the country's best delights from vegan croissants to vegan parmesan!
Italians also have a love for food in general, and they definitely understand both the health and the ethical aspect of veganism. In fact, during the last few years alone, Italy has developed into somewhat of a trendsetter for the European vegan scene.
So what do you eat as a vegan in Italy?
Well besides all of the obvious dishes such as vegetarian pizza without cheese and pasta pomodoro, you’ll have plenty of choices. Much of the Italian cuisine is vegan by default.
Most restaurants serve a ton of vegetables and pasta dishes, many cafes have started offering vegan croissants, and we still haven’t been to a cafe that doesn’t offer soy milk. And let’s not forget the huge selection of vegan gelato offered at every gelateria we've been to.
There is even artisanal Italian vegan cheese that’s good enough to trick even the most stubborn meat eater.
In addition to eating at “traditional” restaurants, a city like Rome has a bustling vegan scene. In fact, several of our most loved vegan restaurants are located in the Eternal City.
Flower Burger, for example, is an all-vegan burger chain that originally opened in Milano more than 10 years ago. It didn't take long for their reputation to spread, and today they have a dozen restaurants spread across Europe.
Then there are a handful of all vegan Italian restaurants in Rome, with Ma Va being the absolute best as well as iVegan - an all-vegan grocery store.
- Favorite Dish: Carciofi alla Romana
- Favorite Restaurants: Ma Va in Rome
In our opinion, India is one of the most vegan-friendly countries, especially Southern India.
The combination of incredible spices and flavors, the variation of textures, and the sheer number of Indian dishes that are vegan by default makes traveling as a vegan in the southern regions of India a breeze.
India is also home to our favorite dish, the masala dosa; a savory crepe stuffed with spicy potato curry.
However, the best part is that most Indian food is super healthy, packed full of legumes, vegetables, and flavorful spices.
Further North it can be a bit more difficult to be vegan. Generally speaking, North Indians use much more dairy and ghee (clarified butter) than South Indians. With that said, we ourselves didn't find it to be so much of an issue. We recommend trying to stick to pure vegetarian restaurants, of which there are plenty, and simply requesting no ghee. Or opt for safe dishes such as potato paratha and papadums.
- Favorite Dish: Masala Dosa
- Favorite Restaurant: Bean Me Up in Goa
We were quite skeptical of the vegan scene in Warsaw when we first got on a plane to visit Poland, or at least Adam was.
Despite reading that Poland was one of the best vegan countries, we still had our doubts. We pictured an old and gray Soviet city and were quite frankly a bit nervous about what we would be eating.
We couldn’t have been more wrong.
To this day, Warsaw remains one of the most vegan-friendly cities we have ever been to, and after visiting Krakow this summer, we can confirm that there is plenty of amazing vegan food there as well.
Better yet, a majority of the vegan restaurants in Warsaw are located in the same area, a short walk from the Old Town. Within four blocks of each other, there is a total of eight all-vegan restaurants and cafes and at least twice as many vegan-friendly restaurants.
Moreover, there are at least a dozen other all-vegan restaurants spread out across the city.
But besides Warsaw and Krakow, Poland as a whole is incredibly vegan-friendly. It seems everywhere you go from Poznań to Wrocław, there is an insane amount of vegan food options.
Maybe it goes without saying, but Poland is a destination that should be high on every vegan's bucket list.
- Favorite Dish: Vegan pierogies
- Favorite Restaurant: Edamame Vegan Sushi in Warsaw
Bali/Indonesia - The Birth Place of Tempeh
If you have followed us for a while, you know that we have a weak spot for Bali. In fact, we’ve called Ubud home for longer than most other places in the world, and when we’re not there, we are continuously planning our next return.
Obviously, indulging in amazing food is a top priority for us, and we have still never been to a place with such an abundance of local food and all-vegan restaurants.
In both Ubud, Seminyak, and Canggu, you can eat vegan tacos and burgers smothered in cheese and enjoy local vegan dishes such as gado-gado (order without egg!) and tempeh goreng with ease.
Another great perk for vegan travelers is that there are several Balinese cooking classes that cater to vegans.
A few years ago, we went on a full day excursion that started at a market where we stocked up on supplies for the day. Then we headed back to a local organic farm where we spent the rest of the day learning how to prepare some of our favorite Balinese dishes.
- Favorites Dish: Tempeh Goreng
- Favorite Restaurant: Sage in Ubud
Trying to cover all the vegan food in the US would be a massive project so we’ll focus on what we know best: New York. Luckily, NYC also happens to be one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the US.
According to Happy Cow and Choose Veg, New York’s metropolitan area is home to 600 vegan restaurants! That is hundreds more than any other urban area in the world.
As a matter of fact, there is so much vegan food in New York that we don’t even know where to start.
Looking for vegan comfort food? Then Champ’s Diner in Brooklyn is your go-to place. In the mood for Mexican food? Then Jajaja, our new favorite vegan restaurant in NYC, will get the job done. Want a real New York experience with a vegan slice of pie? Check out Screamers in Brooklyn or one of Two Boots several locations. Moreover, Beyond Sushi is an innovative, all-vegan sushi chain with a handful of location spread across Manhattan.
When visiting NYC, eating burgers is one of our favorite past times and the list of vegan burger joints is long. Cinnamon Snail, the Organic Grill, By Chloe, Blossom du Jour, Bareburger (not all-vegan), and Marty’s V Burger to name a few.
In addition, there is a whole array of ethnic restaurants serving everything from vegan Ethiopian and Indian food, to Chinese and Middle Eastern, as well as a handful of vegan fine dining restaurants and vegan bakeries with Dunwell Donut being one of our top picks.
All things considered, if you combine NYC’s incredible vegan options with all the other amazingly vegan-friendly cities in the US, it should come as no surprise that the United States is one of best countries for vegans in the world.
- Favorite Dish: Jajaja's Chorizo Burrito
- Favorite Restaurang: Champ's Diner in Brooklyn
Thailand is easily one of the most vegan countries in Asia thanks to the incredible range of vegan food on offer. From cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai to the islands of Koh Lanta and Koh Samui, you will be spoiled for choice.
We love that in Bangkok you can eat vegan waffles, chocolate smoothies, and pizzas that rival those served in any Western capital and enjoy vegan pad thais prepared by street vendors within a few blocks from each other. Not to mention that Chiang Mai has been crowned one of the most-vegan friendly destinations in Asia by many vegan travelers.
However, what separates Thailand from many other vegan countries is that veganism is a part of the local culture. In turn, this usually means that the locals understand the concept.
You see, there is a form of Chinese Buddhism that's practiced by many Thais and that excludes all forms of animal products including fish sauce.
The concept is referred to as Gin Jae and it even has its own sign that’s used to mark food items and restaurants that are vegan.
In other words, by learning how to pronounce Gin Jae, and more importantly, how to spot the sign, you will be able to eat vegan anywhere you go in Thailand.
There is even a food festival held in Phuket and other areas of Thailand called the Nine Emperor Gods Festival where all participating restaurants are vegetarian and vegan.
- Favorite Dish: Mango Sticky Rice
- Favorite Restaurant: Veganerie in Bangkok
Despite the fact that Malaysia shares a border with Thailand, the food scene is very different, and in our opinion, much better.
The reason for this is the immense influence that Malaysia has experienced from other countries over hundreds of years. Besides being a British and Dutch colony, Malaysia has a large population of both Indians and Chinese which has created a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and cuisines.
And it’s this melting pot that makes Malaysia one of the top vegan countries in the world.
Nowhere is this as evident as in Georgetown on the Island of Penang, which also, but unsurprisingly, happens to be our favorite place in Malaysia.
Here, you’ll find a bustling Little India with several vegetarian restaurants next door to Chinatown which hosts even more vegan restaurants. In addition, there's an array of restaurants serving other cuisines, for example, an all-vegan sushi restaurant.
As you can imagine, we tend to eat ourselves sick whenever we visit, and we can’t wait to return.
You might have already guessed it, but our favorite part about traveling in Malaysia is the Indian food. In fact, the South Indian food served in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in Malaysia remains some of the best and most flavorful we’ve ever had.
- Favorite Dish: Dosas
- Favorite Restaurant: NR Sweets in Penang