Surprising, Up & Coming and Underrated Vegan-Friendly Destinations

Surprising, Up & Coming and Underrated Vegan-Friendly Destinations

One of the most common reactions I get when I tell people I’m vegan and that I travel a lot, is “oh, that must be so hard”.

Honestly, it really isn’t. If you’re not an especially fussy eater, my experience is that there is always something to eat. It might not be exciting, and sometimes that’s OK. Sure, I’d rather have choice, and indeed I do now regularly choose destinations to visit based on their vegan-friendliness and range in the choice of types of food.

With veganism becoming more and more normalised in many parts of the world, and with many kinds of cuisine being vegan-friendly just by coincidence, there are way more surprising vegan destinations than I can cover by myself, so I asked some blogger friends of mine to share their recommendations.

Some share whole countries and their accidentally vegan-friendly cuisines, some gave specific cities with recommendations on particular restaurants to try out all over Europe, South America and Asia. Enjoy!

Europe

Greece

Even though the vegan movement is still pretty small in Greece, traditional Greek cuisine includes a surprising number of naturally vegan dishes. This is because the Greek Orthodox calendar contains more than 180 “fasting” days, when believers abstain from eating foods that are prohibited under rules set out by the Greek Orthodox Church. The good news for vegans is that these rules prescribe what is almost a vegan diet (with a couple of exceptions, namely honey and certain aquatic animals like squid).

Mezedhes (small appetizers) like skordalia (a garlicky potato dip), dolmadhes (stuffed vine leaves) and tomatokeftedes (tomato fritters) can be combined to make a scrumptious vegan meal. And there are plenty of naturally vegan main dishes too, like briám(similar to ratatouille), gemista (stuffed tomatoes or bell peppers) and imam baildi (eggplant stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes). Since many Greeks are not yet familiar with the term “vegan”, the easiest way to make sure you’re getting a vegan dish is to ask for something that’s “nistisimo” (fasting food) and doesn’t contain seafood or honey.

Wendy Werneth is a nomadic traveller and vegan foodie who seeks out vegan treasures in the most unlikely places. She’s on a mission to show you how you can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere. You can follow her adventures at The Nomadic Vegan and download her free ebook, “9 Steps for Easy Vegan Travel”.

Slovenia

While cycle touring through Slovenia in 2015, we decided to finally commit to a vegan diet. Knowing little about vegan travel, and fortunately, the country, particularly its capital Ljubljana, proved a wonderful introduction to eating vegan on the road.

While ambling around downtown Ljubljana, we happened upon Odprta Kuhna. Every Friday from March through October, culinary wizards gather to form Odprta Kuhna – meaning “open kitchen” – and dish out the best of local and international cuisine from around Slovenia. With nine vegan stalls, from burgers to falafel, you’ll want to sample everything. Head to Barbarella and sample both the savory and sweet options, like her spot-on curry and decadent chocolate mousse.

For lunch, dinner or both, head to one of  Slovenia’s five Loving Hut locations. A popular vegan restaurant chain, the Ljubljana Center location offers a remarkably affordable buffet with daily rotating choices, while the Maribor Loving Hut serves international cuisine like kung pao, chow mein, and kebab.

Finally, don’t leave Ljubljana without savoring the gelato. Though Italy is king of gelato, Slovenian gelato makers claim to have been making gelato for just as long as their neighbors. Visit Zvezda, with a large variety of vegan options, including several berry flavors and a rich dark chocolate. Just down the road, enjoy gelato while sitting in the swings that serve as chairs at Aroma, which entices passersby with handmade choices, such as strawberry with fresh mint and lemon with basil.

slovenia_barbarella

Jen is currently cycle touring the world along with her partner and dog, Sora, an Australian Shepherd who convinced her humans that life on a bike is much better than behind a desk. She is the storyteller and photographer behind the blog Long Haul Trekkers. When she’s not cycling, you can find her running in the woods or exploring the beauty of her home state of Oregon.

Tblisi, Georgia

When heading to Tbilisi, Georgia we didn’t expect much in the way of vegan food, but when we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised and our bellies always full.

Our first sample of Georgian cuisine was lobiani, a bread bean pie. Similar to stuffed Indian paratha, but this pie is a bit thicker, and stuffed with bean paste: delicious and filling. Bread is a staple in Georgia, so you will have no trouble finding it all over the country, but do be sure to ask whether it is made with dairy, and eggs, or just vegetable lard.

Another favourite of ours was khinkali. A delicious dumpling usually stuffed with meat, but we managed to find a restaurant that served mushroom khinkali. Made to order, these pockets of dough with steaming mushrooms were perfect on a chilled day in Tbilisi. Just a sprinkle of salt, and you are good to go.

Lobio is another wonderful warming dish from Georgia. A vegan stew made with kidney beans, walnuts, and spices, then poured into a clay pot and baked. Honorable mentions include dadridzhani nigvsit, thin sliced eggplant topped with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds which makes for a delicious, healthy, and visually exciting dish.As long as you know what to ask for, travelling Georgia as a vegan is easy and enjoyable. Oh, and don’t miss out on the wonderful wines of Georgia. Khaketi is one of the oldest wine regions in the world.

georgia

Giselle and Cody are creators of the ethical vegan travel blog Mindful Wanderlust. Besides their love for travel their interests include music, science, justice, circles, animals, triangles, feelings, stuff, things, and vegan food. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík, Iceland is definitely an up and coming vegan travel destination. It has tons of delicious vegan food, everything from traditional Icelandic comfort foods like hearty soups and breads to burgers, pizzas, and desserts. You can find vegan options pretty much everywhere, including the supermarkets, and restaurants are happy to veganize meals.

Gló is a local restaurant with several locations in the city that serve delicious and healthy food, using local and organic ingredients, like soups, salads, sandwiches and has a variety of treats like brownies, snickers bars and tiramisu.

I had an awesome lunch with creamy broccoli soup, peanut satay fried tofu, veggies, potato salad, coleslaw, raw sprouted crackers and hummus. You’ll get all the energy you need to go explore beautiful Iceland with a yummy vegan smorgasbord like that!

reykjavik_glo

Amanda is a solo vegan full-time traveler who puts the Burger in Burger Abroad. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, is an up-and-coming hot spot for vegan cuisine in the Balkans. I thought travelling vegan in Sofia would be a challenge but I unexpectedly stumbled across more and more vegan-friendly places in every corner of the city.

For breakfast, check out Hlebar where you can get a vegan version of traditional Bulgarian banitsa – a long filo pastry stuffed with different fillings. Our favourite was the apple and cinnamon banitsa!

The best vegan food I ate was at Sun & Moon Bakery, a restaurant-cafe-come-bakery who make vegetarian and vegan versions of traditional Bulgarian foods. The vegan mish-mash (made with scrambled tofu) was incredible and the mashed nettles are also worth trying out.

Soma Vital Food is an excellent vegan place. Try the creatively named and ridiculously yummy chick-curryeah, a light chickpea and carrot curry. Salted Cafe is a great cafe for homemade vegan falafel wraps at lunchtime. For a budget vegan meal, check out the vegan buffet at Dream House.

sofia_soma

Charlie travels and blogs about sustainable, slow travel. Charlie took up a vegan travel challenge as part of Veganuary 2016 and travelled vegan in Bulgaria and Macedonia. Follow her slow travel adventures (including her vegan finds!) on Facebook and Twitter.

Düsseldorf, Germany

Düsseldorf, Germany is probably not on your radar as a vegan-friendly destination in the world! And it wasn’t until a few years ago when sattgrün opened. sattgrün started out in the Flingern district, and got so popular they opened three other locations (in Stadtmitte, Mediahafen, and in neighbouring city of Essen).

Their concept is buffet style (but high-quality buffet) and they serve a variety of foods from Italian to Asian-fusion. If you’re up for vegan fast food, SchnellVeg is by Düsseldorf-Zoo station and serves awesome vegan grub.

Another favourite vegan grubbery is Bulls Vegan in Solingen, which is a 20 minute train ride from Düsseldorf Hbf (take the S1 and get off at Solingen-Vogelpark). I recommend the vegan gyros-wrap or vegan bacon burger!

dusseldorf_burger

Jessica and Martin are a couple of vegans based in Germany who are off to travel the world soon! Their goal is to aim for financial independence while showing everyone how fun and easy the vegan lifestyle is. Follow them on their blog, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

South America

Medellín, Colombia

Medellín is aptly named “the city of eternal spring”, but Colombia’s second largest city has more to offer than near-perfect weather, especially for vegan travelers. In the month I spent in Medellín’s El Poblado neighborhood, I found and feasted on vegan burgers, falafel, veganized Colombian food, sushi, Indian food, and a plethora of exotic fruit native to this incredible country.

My favorite vegan dining option in Medellín was Lenteja Express, a vegetarian burger joint that serves up a tasty vegan burger with a variety of topping options and some of the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever had. My other go-to spot was VegStation, a tiny restaurant with outdoor seating and a daily lunch menu consisting of a soup, huge plate of vegetables and grains, dessert, and fresh juice or smoothie.

What makes Medellín even more amazing to visit as a vegan was the fact that there are health food stores at nearly every turn in El Poblado. Organic fruit and vegetables, herbs, super foods, grains, non-dairy milk, and even high quality chocolates were all super easy to find.

Colombia isn’t known for being a vegan friendly travel destination, but Medellín is surely on its way to becoming one of the best cities in the world for vegan travelers to visit.

medellin_burger

Randi is a vegan and co-creator of the travel sites Veggie Visa and Just a Pack. She is on a multi-year, round the world journey exploring various cultures as a vegan and sharing the lifestyle as she goes. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Peru

Peru is a great place for vegans, even if at first it doesn’t seem like it. There is a wide variety of fruits to discover (like lucuma, one of our favorites), fresh vegetables and, in general, food is very cheap.

As in most countries, the capital – Lima – is the most vegan friendly city. There you’ll find vegan restaurants for all tastes. If you thought you couldn’t enjoy Peruvian gastronomy because you’re vegan, think again. Sabor y Vida will give you some of the best vegan ceviche and lomo saltado. If you’re more into gourmet cuisine, you can try the best burger of your life in Seitan Urban Bistro. Raw food, quiches, pizzas, burgers, waffles, pancakes, ice creams, smoothies, everything is possible in Lima.

In Arequipa, vegan community is growing, hosted Veg Fest this year. And while it has fewer options than in Lima you will still find delicious vegan food. Recently the first vegan restaurant opened, El Buda Profano, and even meat-eaters are amazed by their sushis. If you’re staying in the Ciudad Blanca, you should definitely try a vegan rocoto relleno (Stuffed pepper, Arequipa’s specialty) at Mandala or a nice vegan wrap at La Casita de Merche.

Anywhere in Peru you’ll be able to find vegan food if you speak some Spanish. In almost every place, you can get a veganized dish. And last but not least, food portions are huge in Peruvian restaurants!

peru_sushi

The Vegan Globetrotter is run by a Peruvian-French vegan couple living in Arequipa. They are passionate about discovering new places, but mostly about eating! Follow them on Facebook.

Asia

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap is firmly on the map as the place to go in Cambodia to visit the amazing Angkor Wat (which really does live up to the hype). It’s hot, dusty and a little crazy at times but it’s also got quite a growing vegan scene. If you know where to look there are loads of vegan options including accidentally vegan Cambodian street food, local restaurants that are happy to leave out the animal products, cafes that serve soy or nut milk in their coffees, vegan friendly fine-dining and even places with raw vegan cake. There’s a few vegetarian restaurants and we even have a vegan AirBnB where you can stay with us and we’ll be happy to give you the vegan lowdown.

Our favourite food comes straight from the street and is called ‘nom heng’;  sweet, sesame laced, puffy fried bread which is a great early morning snack. You’ll find people selling them on the side of the street from little carts but it’s best to get them when they’ve been freshly cooked for full irresistible vegan street food effect. If you’re passing through Siem Reap then give us a shout and we’ll show you our favourite vendor who sells the best nom heng in town.

cambodia_streetfood

Caryl and Paul are two luxury loving, food obsessed vegans who live in Siem Reap in between travelling around Asia. Follow their vegan travel adventure on the Vegan Food Quest website or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and get a daily dose of delicious vegan food and vegan travel inspiration.

Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca is a quaint UNESCO World Heritage city located in the South of Malaysia. Being mostly famous for its history, it seems to fly under most people’s radar as a vegan destination. Malaysia as a whole is one of the easiest countries in South East Asia to find vegan and vegetarian food, and Malacca has so much to offer!

A lot of vegan sweets such as nonya kueh (sticky rice and coconut milk treats) can be found at the famous Jonker Street night market and vegan versions of local savoury specialties such as chicken rice balls (a Malacca dish con­sist­ing of boiled chicken and dumpling-like rice balls) and laksa (spicy coconut noo­dle soup) can be found at Hui Xian Vegetarian.

There’s also long­ton soup (rice cubes, okra, cab­bage, turmeric, lemon­grass, tem­peh) at Geographer Café and otak otak (a staple street food of grilled fish cake, made of ground fish meat mixed with tapioca starch and spices then wrapped in banana leaf), at Ye Su Lin. For everything in between, read my vegan food guide.

malacca_longton

Amélie is a hungry fun-loving vegan Canadian graphic designer and travel writer who’s ditched the 9 to 5 lifestyle in favour of something that lets her roam the world at her own will and follow her ever itchy feet. She is currently based in Berlin, but that probably won’t last very long. Follow her adventures on her blog Mostly Amélie. You can also catch her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What’s the most surprising vegan destination you’ve visited, or where do you think is going to be the next vegan hotspot? Let us know in the comments!