8 Unexpected Vegan Hotspots Around the Globe
Plan your next vacation to a foreign country where veganism is all the rage.
So you’re vegan and want to travel to exotic places, but you're afraid of what you’ll be able to eat? Don’t fret, as the world is getting easier to navigate when it comes to plant-based options. The good news? Eating vegan while far from home is only getting better! Here are eight cities where your ethics and your diet don’t have to take a backseat to global exploration.
1. Maasai Mara, Kenya
Prior to my trip to one of Kenya’s national game reserves, I was worried that my dining would consist of protein bars, bread, and bottled water. Luckily, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The meals at the safari resort was served buffet style—with every dish clearly labeled. Staff members kept the vegetable dishes on one side of the dining hall, so I had no problems loading my plate with rice, bean dishes (both Indian and African), stir fried vegetables, and pasta. In addition, I was able to get freshly squeezed juices to take with me for the day.
2. Uluru, Australia
A less-visited but most “Australian” destination, Uluru is a desert wasteland where visitors stay at one of the five resorts near a magnificent rock. I stayed at Sails, where the breakfast buffet was stocked with vegan options such as fresh salads, veggie sushi, and pasta. Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge’s grill-it-yourself restaurant serves a veggie burger with a choice of vegetable, fries, or salad, while Kulata Academy Cafe in Town Square serves soy lattes and vegan sandwiches. Ayers Wok Noodle Bar also has plenty of vegan options ranging from made-to-order pad Thai to noodle salads, but the most incredible dining experience is Sounds of Silence—an open-air restaurant in the desert where guests sip cocktails at sunset before being served a gourmet, five-course meal that culminates in a storytelling of Uluru, Aboriginal folklore, and astronomy—all under a canopy of stars.
The great thing about visiting the seventh continent is that you can get there only by cruise or expedition ship. So having your accommodations with you as you explore means all your meals are taken care of, and you aren't fending for yourself in the icy tundra. Several cruise lines (check out Quark Express!) make their way through the peninsula and passes, some with specialized health and wellness ships that boast everything from juice bars to yoga on the deck.
4. Bogotá, Colombia
Having spent much of my youth here, I can see how it might be difficult to envision South America as a vegan-friendly locale. However, despite many traditional dishes having meat and poultry, food in Colombia and other South American countries are organic and local by nature. Fresh vegetables, fruit, and grains are central to the Colombian diet and easy to get—in fact, Bogota has quite the vegan scene with new restaurants and options popping up all over the city, some even featuring vegan versions of the classic Colombian dish bandeja paisa.
5. Moscow, Russia
The land of meat, potatoes, and vodka is more vegan-friendly than most states in the union. In fact, Moscow has a booming vegan scene with options at some fabulously hip and trendy restaurants located near Red Square. A nation with a rich and tumultuous history, Russia is also one of the coolest places in the world to visit thanks to historic sites, awesome nightlife that rivals New York and Miami, and unique experiences such as White Nights (watching the sun set and rise within an hour or two). Favorites such as borscht can be found throughout the country, but vegan dishes like miniature pies, Russian salad, and shuba (a veganized version of a popular herring-based dish) are also readily available.
6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Cold-weather spots tend to serve rich and heavy foods to keep their citizens warm. Iceland is no different. However, the country also features a variety of vegan crêperies and ice cream shops to cafés and full-service restaurants. And thanks to the volcanic soil, the produce is wonderfully delicious, a fact that many locals will happily tell tourists.
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
From enormous water parks to indoor ski parks, adventure is big in Dubai. So much so that travelers will work up a serious appetite. And being a Middle Eastern nation, finding vegan eats is easy due to an array of dishes featuring falafel, legumes, grains, and vegetables. While every vegan traveler should partake in hummus and baba ganoush, make sure to save room for a plant-based version of esh asaraya, a sweet bread with cream, and mehalabiya, a pudding made with ground pistachios.
8. Colombo, Sri Lanka
The island nation just off the coast of Southern India is a wonder for many reasons, vegan food being one of them. Incredible wildlife, gorgeous beaches, and a mix of India, Southeast Asian, and Sri Lankan cultures makes for a unique destination. While it's easy to assume that Sri Lankan cuisine is similar to Southern Indian food, Sri Lankan fare is considerably different but just as vegan-friendly thanks to delectable rice and curry dishes and local vegetable creations. Travelers will find everything from roti (local bread) and stir-fried vegetables to hoppers and stings hoppers—crêpes with onion sambol—across over the country.
Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is a healthy living expert, travel/cooking show host, holistic nutritionist, author, and vegan chef.
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