One of the best parts of traveling to a new destination has to be trying out the local cuisine. However, this might prove challenging for travelers who adhere to strict food restrictions. For vegetarian and vegan travelers it’s important to have access to delicious local cuisine that’s animal product-free, but sometimes its difficult to decide where to travel if you don’t know where to find food that fits your diet beforehand. Asher and Lyric, a travel blog, conducted data analysis to create the vegan travel index which revealed the best and worst countries for vegetarian and vegan travelers.
To create the vegan travel index, Asher and Lyric looked at 39 countries and ranked them based on the number of vegetables, fruits, and legumes each country produces per capita per year, the percentage of the population that is vegetarian or vegan, the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants per 1 million annual tourists, and the amount of meat and seafood the country produces per capita per year. The highest possible score was 400 points and the lowest possible score was -200 points.
However, the study does not supply the first-hand experiences of vegan or vegetarian tourists who have actually visited the countries on this list, so there’s no way of knowing, based on this particular study, if the points system translates to a truly accessible food experience for vegans and vegetarians. The study also notes that a country’s results may be skewed by a singular city that is very “veg-friendly,” like metropolitan hubs.
Now on to the rankings: In fifth place, with a score of 98 out of 400 points is Israel. Israel scored high because 13 percent of its population is vegan or vegetarian, and there are 151 vegan/vegetarian restaurants per one million tourists. In fourth place is Vietnam, which scored 101 points. The country has a large Buddhist population that is lacto-vegetarian, making the local cuisine very accessible for vegan and vegetarians.
In third place is Brazil with 133.4 points. This might be surprising if you’re familiar with the popularity of Brazilian barbecue. The country does indeed have a high rate of meat consumption and a comparatively low rate of vegetable consumption, yet at the same time, Brazil has a high number of vegan-and-vegetarian-friendly restaurants per every 1 million tourists each year. In second place is Mexico with 134.7 points, which can be credited to its high fruit and legume production rates (although the study doesn’t account how much of its produce is exported). And finally, in first place is India by a landslide with 227.6 points. 29 percent of the country is vegetarian, so this country has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world and easily caters to vegan and vegetarian travelers.
The best countries for vegetarian and vegan travelers
Whether you are vegan or vegetarian, if you do decide to travel to these countries, you won’t want to miss out on the great vegetarian dishes each one has to offer: In Israel, try local favorites like falafel or shashuka, which is a tomato stew topped with eggs. Vegetarian Vietnamese dishes are known for their layered flavors, so vegetarian pho and other noodle dishes are essential eating. Mexico City has amazing vegan street tacos, and inIndia you’ll find rice, curry, and lots of street food, prepared with rich spices.