Here at Brainberries we’re all about eating meat and having a good time. But some of the writers here are vegetarians and vegans, and we’re cool with that. So when we all head out to the steakhouse for some ribeyes and sirloins (as we do every Friday night!), we make sure our meatless adhering colleagues have their fill of lettuce leaves and more lettuce leaves. But don’t feel too sad for them. When they are off traveling, there are plenty of countries in the world that keep them happy with vegetarian and vegan dishes. In fact, here is a look at the 12 best countries to visit if corn nog and bean sprouts are your idea of a savory dinner.
12. United States
Back in 1993, the entire country only had around 50 vegan restaurants. But today that number has grown to 700 and counting. This doesn’t even take into account all of the vegetarian restaurants that exist. From San Francisco to Denver and Chicago to Philadelphia and even deep in the heart of Texas, there are plenty of really amazing options if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
Best Restaurant: The Butcher’s Daughter, New York City
Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries in all of Asia, and it shows in their cuisine. With a Muslim majority (no pork), a sizeable Hindi minority (no beef) and Buddhists (no meat at all), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can often have delicious vegetarian and vegan choices even if by accident.
Best Restaurant: Manja, Kuala Lumpur
We’re lumping Norway, Sweden and Denmark together here because who’s going to stop us? I understand that putting them on the list is kind of controversial, but here me out. The people of Scandinavia have a pretty liberal attitude towards things, right? If you asked them, “Would you be open to the possibility that chickens are people too?” most would probably reply, “Sure. Why not?” You’ll find an abundance of vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options when you visit these countries. One of the reasons Scandinavia scores so high is because the hotels clearly understand that non-meat eaters are looking for more than Frosted Flakes and bread on the breakfast menu.
Best Restaurant: Hermans, Stockholm
9. United Arab Emirates
UAE makes this list for three main reasons. First, 85% of the population is made up of foreigners, mostly from Asian countries. So naturally they bring their customs with them, which in many cases includes vegetarianism/veganism. Second, the Middle East is famous for things like hummus and falafel. But the third reason is really important: when you request vegetarian fare, the folks over there don’t mess around. They respect your food preferences, unlike places like Russia where if you ask for a vegetarian dish, they often conclude you just mean less meat.
Best Restaurant: Super Natural Kitchen, Dubai
Yet another country in the Middle East that has a lot to offer vegetarians and vegans. Not only will you find the best hummus and falafels in the world here, even international chains such as Domino’s Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream have gotten into the act by offering vegan dishes.
Best Restaurant: Anastasia, Tel Aviv
Not getting enough shiro, misir wat curry, or a yetsom beyaynetu in your diet? That would be chickpeas, lentils and vegetarian platter, respectively. Order them with injera pancakes (a spongy type of bread that you scope the food up with) and salad, and you’re all set! One reason why Ethiopians have mastered the art of preparing amazing vegan food unlike most of their African counterparts is because the majority of Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians, which means they go the full 40 days of Lent without touching meat or dairy products.
Best Restaurant: Bait Al Mandi, Addis Ababa
The Brits don’t make this list because there is anything special about the way they do vegetarian food. But one area where the UK really thrives is in its international cuisine. Walk around London and you will find Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Lebanese and Ethiopian food that is as good as the real thing. Of course, the menus at these restaurants tend to be very vegetarian-friendly, so you are definitely going to find something that you’ll like.
Best Restaurant: Ceremony, London
You might be surprised to find Hungary on this list, but you shouldn’t be. Budapest alone is home to a whopping 23 vegan restaurants! It’s a bit pricey compared to local, non-touristy restaurants, but still far less than what you’d pay in the States or UK. The only downside is that once you leave Budapest, you’ll have a difficult time finding vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the country’s other towns and cities.
Best Restaurant: Veganlove, Budapest
Guess which country in Europe has the highest percentage of vegetarians? If you answered “Italy” it’s probably only because I asked this question in the paragraph devoted to Italy, right? Anyway, believe it or not, 10% of the country professes to be vegetarians. That means you won’t have any problems finding really good meatless options here, whether you are looking for amazing classic pasta dishes or risotto. Admittedly, this is more of a paradise for vegetarians than vegans since so many of the best choices include cheese or fish.
Best Restaurant: Joia, Milan
When it comes to German cuisine, their delicious sausages and schnitzels come to mind. But Berlin is truly the vegan capital of Europe. You’ll find really amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants all over the city. But unlike many of the other countries on this list, if you go to the small towns and cities in Germany, you’ll find plenty of shops that sell a variety of vegan foods. Das ist fantastisch!
Best Restaurant: Kopps, Berlin
You’ll find a lot of traditional Buddhist dishes here, which obviously means you will indulge yourself with tofu and tempeh instead of pork chops and sausage. The best thing about eating vegetarian/vegan in Vietnam is that the prices are so cheap and yet it’s still really filling. Of course, if you are a vegan, just make sure to find out what’s in the sauces before you try them since a lot of them are fish-based.
Best Restaurant: Saigon Vegan, Ho Chi Minh City
It comes as no surprise that India tops this list. After all, more than 500 million of its citizens (38%) are vegetarians. In other words, India has more vegetarians than the US has people. The best thing is the diversity of Indian cuisine, which means where ever you travel in the country, you will find incredible vegetarian and vegan dishes that are truly unique.
Best Restaurant: JW Cafe, Mumbai.