The World's Best Cities for Vegan and Vegetarian Travelers
Long gone are the days when vacationing vegans and vegetarians had to resign themselves to poking at piles of iceberg lettuce and lukewarm wedges of tofu the consistency and flavor of makeup sponges. Restaurants and markets all over the world now happily cater to herbivores with healthy, hearty, and indulgent offerings that lose nothing from being made without meat. It wasn’t easy, but we narrowed down the world’s most veg-friendly cities to 10 favorites, from plant-pushing pioneers to fresh upstarts. Dig in!
Charis Atlas Heelan contributed to this report.
The forward-thinking, healthy-living, earth-protecting citizenry of Portland has turned Oregon’s largest city into the country’s capital of all things granola—sort of like what San Francisco used to be before all the techie types took over. Visitors who don’t eat animal products fit right in with Portland’s all-natural, cruelty-free ethos. In fact, mere vegetarians who still consume dairy and eggs are liable to feel downright old-fashioned. Vegans, for once, can experience the concept of culinary variety at restaurants and food stores offering vegan barbecue (pictured above from Homegrown Smoker, 8638 N. Lombard), vegan doughnuts (Doe Donuts, 8201 SE Powell), and, at the world’s first all-vegan mini mall (1217 SE Stark), cashew cheeses, coconut bacon, and milk-free soft serve.
Many of the factors that have combined to make London a gastronomic titan, particularly the city’s cosmopolitan character and local chefs’ fearless embrace of new ideas and international flavors, are also reflected in the abundant plant-based dining options here. Few cities can match the global range of London’s restaurants—sometimes on a single menu, as with The Gate’s all-veggie Indo-Euro-Mediterranean fare (there are three locations, but the original is at 51 Queen Caroline Street in Hammersmith). Too much fusion for your palate? Pop into a meatless pizzeria, sushi bar, burger joint, gastropub, or “junk food shop” (like Vx, at 73 Caledonian Road, pictured above). You don’t have to limit yourself to sit-down places, either. Take a stroll through the Broadway Vegan Market held every Saturday on Westgate Street south of London Fields, or take in the swirling ambience of street food stalls, DJs, and hip crowds at the monthly vegan night market in East London (check the event’s Facebook page for date, time, and location).
Photo: a vegan meal at Tel Aviv's CityTree Urban Ecology Center
What makes New York City a great town for vegetarians is the same thing that makes it hard on singles swiping through Tinder: an overwhelming number of options. That green abundance led personal finance website WalletHub to name the Big Apple the best U.S. city for vegans and vegetarians in a 2017 study. New York’s meat-free food was also praised for its easy accessibility and high quality. Can you say the same about your Tinder matches?
Whether you dine uptown, downtown, or in the boroughs, finding vegetarian options at meat-serving restaurants is as easy as (dairy-free) pie, while fully plant-based eateries run the gamut from fancy (Avant Garden, 130 E. 7th St. in the East Village and 188 Havemeyer St. in Brooklyn) to food truck (The Cinnamon Snail; track locations here). International cuisines likewise span the globe—you can sample vegan crepes and mushroom “escargot” at classically French Délice & Sarrasin in the West Village (20 Christopher St.) or taste a vegetarian spin on traditional Korean at Hangawi (12 E. 32nd St.).
Photo: the rooftop Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel (542 W. 27th St.), home of the immersive Sleep No More production
India has the largest vegetarian population in the world, so it stands to reason that the country’s most populous city, Mumbai, would have a seemingly incalculable number of vegetarian restaurants and food stalls. And it does—though you should keep in mind that many who practice Hinduism (and 80% of Indians do) are lacto-vegetarians, meaning that they avoid meat, fish, and eggs, but they do eat dairy products. In other words, visiting vegans beware.
Trend-seekers and -setters will want to head to spots like the “wilderness-to-table” foraging restaurant Masque (Gala 3, Laxmi Woollen Mill), which has a vegetarian tasting menu. But it might be more rewarding to explore the city’s scores of small cafes, markets, and food stalls selling chutneys, Parsi-style scrambled eggs, papayas, toasted buns, flattened rice, and much more.
Turin mayor Chiara Appendino has said she’d like to see her northern Italian city go vegetarian—which might be a tall order for a town of nearly 900,000 people with a long tradition of eating beef-heavy Piedmontese cuisine. But the city has made a good start: There are already more than 30 vegan and vegetarian restaurants here. Many of them, such as Coox (on the Piazza Vittorio Veneto, pictured above) and Il Gusto di Carmilla (Via S. Donato 29), put a fresh spin on Italian classics, serving mushroom pastas and gelato made with rice, soy, or almond milk. One thing's for sure: If anybody can make pizza taste good even when the cheese isn’t cheese, it’s an Italian.
Singapore is a prime destination for food no matter what your dietary habits are. Filling up on pan-Asian fare at markets, “hawker centers”, and food courts is something of a local obsession, and vegetarians are by no means left out. At temples to gluttony such as Lau Pa Sat (pictured above; 18 Raffles Quay) and the multilevel Fortune Centre (190 Middle Rd.), it’s ridiculously easy to find stalls selling meatless noodle, rice, curry, and faux seafood dishes packed with Singapore’s distinct combo of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western flavors. Leaving hungry is not an option.
Surprised to find the world’s capital of theme parks and chain restaurants on this list? Then you haven’t been paying close enough attention to Orlando’s burgeoning food scene, which includes an impressive bounty of vegan and vegetarian offerings. As a matter of fact, WalletHub’s 2017 roundup of vegan-friendly U.S. cities ranked Orlando third, behind only New York and Portland, Oregon. What’s more, the study found that the central Florida city has the highest percentage of restaurants serving vegan options—around 31%, nearly nine times higher than last-place finisher Chicago. That means green-based diners should have no trouble finding tasty menu items at top restaurants like Black Rooster Taqueria (1323 N. Mills Ave.) and ramen hotspot Domu, attached to the artisanal-everything East End Market (3201 Corrine Dr.). Theme parks do their best to cater to dietary needs as well. There are meatless options, for instance, at each of the 11 pavilions in the World Showcase at Walt Disney World’s Epcot.