I’ve lived in the United States nearly my entire life, but recent political events at home have made certain foreign locales much more appealing to me. For example, in Costa Rica, there’s no army and hunting is banned, while the culturally rich city of Berlin features an abundance of vegan restaurants. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to make things better at home, but just in case there comes a moment when we need to hop on a plane out pronto, here are five vegan-friendly places you might want to keep in mind.
Just an Amtrak ride away from New York City, this Canadian city offers so much for those of us who don’t want to commit to relocating but need a break from the US. Though French is spoken by the majority of Montreal natives, one can get by in this sophisticated city speaking English. Even better? Vegan restaurants are plentiful in Montreal. Sushi Momo serves divine all-vegan sushi creations, while at (also vegan) Aux Vivres you and your escapee friends can dine on everything from burgers and chili fries to gyros and a BLT sandwich in a nouveau-diner-meets-hipster atmosphere. Montreal is also home to a fantastic annual Montreal Vegan Festival. Sadly, you won’t be able to bring your companion animals with you on the Amtrak to Montreal (unless they are service animals), so if you’re moving with furry friends you’ll want to fly or drive.
Berlin has a long history as a creative center and is the birthplace of many innovations in art and film. The city has also long served as fertile ground for activists speaking up on issues ranging from the environment and school tuitions to animal rights. As is fitting for a city concerned with animal welfare, Berlin offers dozens of vegan restaurants, a vegan doughnut shop, and two Aveso locations for procuring vegan shoes and accessories. While you’re there, keep trying to make things better in the US by joining Berlin’s American Activism Abroad Meetup. Maybe someday you’ll want to return, but after living in such a vegan-friendly city, you might opt to stay forever.
Scotland has a great deal to offer vegans that should not be ignored. In fact, the country is considered by many to be the most vegan-friendly place in the United Kingdom. Whether you crave Indian food or a pizza, you’ll find a vegan version in Edinburgh, a city known for hosting great festivals including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Vienna has birthed some of the greatest music in history, with musical giants including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Gustav Mahler having produced works here. Rich in culture, Vienna also offers a number of museums including the Castle Belvedere, which displays the famous Gustav Klimt painting “The Kiss.” Not only is Vienna an arts mecca but it is also a vegan haven. The city is home to many vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants (including Vegetasia—the first vegetarian Taiwanese restaurant in Austria), Veganista Ice Cream (for a cruelty-free treat), and vegan cosmetics store Fauna & Flora. More good news: with vaccinations, a microchip, and some paperwork you should have no problem bringing your companion animal with you.
5. The entire country of Costa Rica
With stunning volcanoes, lush rainforests, and magnificent beaches, the incredibly beautiful country of Costa Rica offers vegans sanctuary not only because of the plant-based food options but also by presenting a way of living that aligns with the beliefs of many vegans. Costa Rica is also an animal lover’s dream, with an estimated four percent of the entire world’s species living there—hundreds of which aren’t found anyplace else on Earth. As one might imagine, in a place with such progressive values and so many animals, there are numerous sanctuaries and other rescue centers throughout Costa Rica, including the beloved Sloth Sanctuary. On your first morning in your new home, don’t be surprised if you wake up to the unique call of howler monkeys as they climb the trees outside your abode.
Maya Gottfried is the author Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and the forthcoming Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.