11 of the World’s Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities
With its sizable Indian and Chinese populations, going vegetarian is easy in Singapore. Hawker centers and food courts throughout the city offer plenty of veggie choices. Or head to colorful Little India for authentic, exclusively vegetarian cuisine at long-established Komala Vilas or chain restaurants Sagar Ratna and Saravana Bhavan.
2. Chiang Mai
The second largest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is a haven for vegetarians and vegans alike. Open-air eateries within walking distance of the city center abound, and can usually be identified by yellow banners bearing a single Chinese character (‘jay’ or vegetarian).
Try a meatless version of Khao Soi, a northern Thai favorite consisting of egg noodles in a soupy coconut curry sauce, garnished with pickles, shallots, and lime.
Based on Buddhist practices, vegetarian food in Taiwan has developed into a separate cuisine, replete with varieties of chewy “meat” fashioned out of gluten or textured soy protein. Taipei and Taichung, a smaller city in the central part of the island, teem with vegan food stalls and buffet-style restaurants serving everything from stewed “beef” to stir fried “squid.”
While Japan is generally not very veg-friendly, you can easily find unique Zen Buddhism-inspired vegetarian cuisine in Kyoto. Called shojin ryori, the multi-course meals are served in or near the city’s many temples, such as Nanzen-ji, Daitoku-ji, and Tenryu-ji.
Local specialties include yuba (tofu skin), fu (wheat gluten), and produce such as eggplant, daikon, and root vegetables. Dishes are meticulously prepared and presented; unfortunately, dinners can be quite pricey.
With a sizable organic and sustainable cooking movement, Vancouver is home to a large variety of vegetarian fare and natural food markets. Sample vegan pizza at Jamaican Pizza Jerk, satisfy late night comfort food cravings at The Naam, or take your pick from many ethnic and fusion restaurants around the city.
From ethnic restaurants to beachside cafes, non-meat options are pretty much de rigueur in this laid-back city. Sydney is also particularly vegan-friendly with Chinese mock meat and vegetarian dim sum restaurants. Favorites include Iku Wholefood and Laurie’s Vegetarian Take Away.
The veggie dining choices in London are as diverse as its population, offering everything from meatless variations of British favorites, such as sausage and mash and shepherd’s pie, to masala dosa and chickpea tagine.
Exclusively vegetarian restaurants have also cropped up, serving creative fusion fare. Notable eats include Riverside Vegetaria, The Gate, and Manna.
8. San Francisco
With its countercultural traditions and penchant for locally grown foods, the Bay Area has long boasted plenty of veggie-friendly choices. Snack on tofu dogs at a Giants’ game in AT&T Park, check out the vegan ice cream at Maggie Mudd, or splurge on a vegetarian feast at Millennium.
9. Portland, OR
Portland buzzes with an eco-friendly vibe and it’s quickly becoming an herbivore’s dream destination. From downtown food carts to eclectic restaurants and stores, such as Paradox Palace Café, Voo Doo Doughnuts, and Food Fight!, Portland’s got something even hardcore vegans will appreciate.
10. New York City
The vegetarian experience in the city that never sleeps goes beyond ethnic dining. Whether you’re seeking kosher raw foods, gourmet macrobiotic dishes, or vegetarian diner fare, you will find it here. NYC is also home to a number of health food stores, as well as the Natural Gourmet Cookery School, which offers a four-course vegetarian dinner prepared by students each Friday.
11. Mexico City
Purely vegetarian restaurants and health food stores can be found throughout the city, including chains of Super Soya, The Green Corner, and Vegi Market.
Street vendors, hawking fruit (coconut sprinkled with chili and lime), elote (corn), and fresh juices, among other goodies, also ensure that vegetarians eat well in Mexico City.
If you prefer cooking for yourself on the road, check out Eva Holland’s article, “What Every Backpacker Should Know About Cooking for Themselves.”