What is the Most Vegan-Friendly Country?
When you’re a vegan, choosing your next travel destination also depends on how vegan a country is. After all, food is a big part of the whole travel experience. So what is the most vegan-friendly country in the world?
It’s simply amazing how big and diverse the world really is. As a vegan, you can easily find countries with a fairly large vegan or vegetarian presence. Some are the result of culture or religious beliefs, while others sprang for a drive to eat healthier.
Even when you’re thinking about moving to a new country, you have to take into account the food situation. Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense for a vegan person to move to a city or country that has meat on every plate.
Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Countries
There are different measures for gauging how vegan-friendly a country is. It could be the number of vegans per capita in the country. Or it could be the culture prevalence that promotes veganism or vegetarianism (like in the case of India).
You can choose your own criteria for judgment, but these are the top 10 vegan countries in the world by general standards:
Did you know that Tel Aviv is now ranked as the vegan capital of the world? Yes, the city is sprawling with vegan eateries, with a significant portion of the population identifying as vegan.
Five percent of the entire country’s population identifies as a vegan. You might think five percent is too little, but it’s not, especially when you consider how many identify as vegetarian (13 percent).
Even big fast-food brands like Dominos have vegan options on their menu with vegan cheese. You can even find vegan Ben and Jerry ice creams in the stores. So there’s always a vegan option, whether you’re simply doing groceries or eating out at a restaurant.
In Israel, veganism didn’t really get popular because of culture or religious beliefs. There are meat options in kosher and halal diets. It was more of a general health awareness paired with growing vegan products and restaurant availability.
Of course, the ominous presence of falafel and hummus also helped the country become the number one destination for vegans.
Now veganism is spreading to other parts of the country as well. You’ll find vegan restaurants in Haifa, Eilat, and Jerusalem as well.
India could easily top Israel or any other country with the sheer number of vegetarians it has. Nearly 40 percent of the population is vegetarian by some rough estimates.
However, a key consideration here is that most Indians are Lactovegetarians. While they do refrain from meat and eggs, dairy is a big part of many Indian cuisines. That said, it’s not hard to find vegan food in the country.
India is vegan-friendly, mostly because of the dominant Hindu religion. Hinduism promotes a vegetarian lifestyle, free from meat of any kind. Because of this, many people with strong religious beliefs refrain from eating meat and sometimes even eggs.
There are over a thousand vegan-friendly restaurants in the country, according to Happy Cow.
It’s a super diverse country with many different ethnicities and cultures. In terms of traveling, India is an experience like no other. Your taste buds will be truly tantalized in every region. However, as a vegan, you’ll love the central and southern parts of the country the most. In the south, dairy is less prominent as many dishes use coconut milk instead of regular milk.
When you think of Germany, you probably think of Bratwurst or Frankfurter sausages. You’d be surprised to know how vegan-friendly this European country is.
Vegan brands are increasingly interested in Germany, and there’s a reason for that. The country has a growing vegan population. According to a survey conducted in Europe, Germany has the most vegans of all the countries on continental Europe.
This is not surprising at all as Germans are highly environment-conscious. With meat production, particularly beef production, contributing significantly to global warming, the attitude of the country towards meat is gradually changing.
Berlin is the most-vegan friendly city in Europe. Before Tel Aviv, it was considered the vegan capital of the world.
In most big cities and even many smaller towns, it’s not too hard to find a vegan restaurant or grocer. They have very strict health standards, so the products on the shelves are pretty healthy and packed in eco-friendly packaging.
The UK has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for plant-based products, which is a strong indication of the country going vegan.
London leads the list of vegan-friendly cities in the UK. With vegan restaurants in almost every neighborhood, it’s a delight to visit for any person who likes their veggies and beans. You can even find vegan fish and chips.
Much like the US, the UK is also pretty diverse in terms of cuisines and flavors. With large immigrant diasporas from South Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe, you’ll have something new to try every day.
Several surveys put the vegan population of the country somewhere between 600,000 and 1.5 million. It’s safe to say that overall, if not per capita, the UK has the most vegans in Europe.
Interesting fact: Veganism started in England in 1847 when Donald Watson coined the term ‘vegan’ and adopted the cruelty-free lifestyle.
Thailand can be considered vegan-friendly because of its use of fresh produce, rice, and soy. However, it’s a little tricky for vegans to navigate for pure vegan food.
Thailand, much like other Southeast Asian countries, has a thriving street food scene. Although scrumptious, such eateries are not the most fervent when it comes to following certain standards. So what may appear and taste vegan may not entirely be vegan.
They use a lot of fish sauce and meat broths in dishes that are based on plant-based ingredients. If you’re a vegan, you have to ask around and make sure that you’re eating pure vegan food.
Thailand has to make this list simply because of the exciting food. If you’re big on flavors, you’re going to love this country.
It’s much easier to eat in big cities of the country as a vegan. With plenty of restaurants following strict no animal food standards, you can eat and drink peacefully, knowing there is no fish sauce or any other such ingredient. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the most vegan-friendly cities in the country.
Right across our northern border, Canada is experiencing a growing vegan scene. It’s following in the footsteps of the US, opting for more eco-friendly food choices. As a result, veganism is on the rise, and with that, the ease of traveling for vegans.
In terms of cuisines, there’s not much of a difference between the US and Canada, as the latter is also home to a diverse population. According to Happy Cow, there are over 5000 vegan or vegetarian eateries in the country. Although it’s a huge country by size, that number is appropriate by its population.
People under 40 dominate the vegan population in the country, with a growing awareness of the environmental implications of eating meat.
It also helps that Canada is right next door, and the flights are cheap, so if you’re traveling as a vegan on a tight budget, our next-door neighbors are a good choice. Also, their incredible hospitality and positivity add to the whole experience.
Since Greece is part of the Meditteranean region, its cuisine is already very plant-based. Though meat and seafood also have a strong presence in their cuisines, it’s way more plant-based if you compare it with the traditional Western diet.
Another reason why Greek cuisine has many vegan dishes is the fasting tradition where they avoid meat. They also use a lot of olive oil instead of animal fat for cooking.
One tip that will come in handy when traveling in Greece is to ask for fasting (nistisima in Greek language) food rather than vegan. Since English is not commonly used and the word vegan hasn’t gotten quite popular yet, asking
The United Arab Emirates is also a pretty vegan-friendly place, especially the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As an Arab country, hummus and falafel are everywhere.
Since the country also has a lot of expat population, they have vegan restaurants to cater to their needs. It’s also an incredibly modern country with thriving tourism industry, so they know the importance of having vegan options.
If you’re traveling or living in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you won’t have trouble finding vegan products in the supermarkets. Most of the products are imported, so you might just find the stuff you use at home.
With some really fancy restaurants, Dubai and Abu Dhabi can also give you a taste of fine dining as a vegan. You can even find vegan fast food with Bareburger adding Beyond Burgers to their menu.
Malaysia has hands-down some of the best food in the world. Although the country sometimes gets overshadowed by the more touristy Thailand or Indonesia with its Bali and Lombok islands, it has a lot to offer as well.
Much of the vegan-friendly food in Malaysia comes from the southern Indian communities. Try their banana-leaf rice or lentil curries, and you’ll come back for more.
Vegan savory dishes are everywhere, but Malaysia also offers some unique plant-based desserts. If you’re in Penang, try Cendol, a famous dessert made from rice flour jelly, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, and red beans.
Malaysian food also has Chinese influences, especially up north. Then you also have vegetarian buffets that cater to the Buddhist population of the country. The country has all kinds of dining options, from lavish restaurants on top of skyscrapers to street stalls with vendors who move like machines.
Of all the South American countries, Argentina could easily be considered the most vegan-friendly. That’s because Argentinian cuisine is inherently vegan-friendly with lots of plant-based ingredients.
It wouldn’t be hard for you to find a vegan eatery in major cities of the countries. Buenos Aires alone has over 60 vegan restaurants. But keep in mind, it’s also considered the beef capital of the world, so you may not be able to find vegan options in many other restaurants.
Argentina has a very clear influence from the Italian cuisine, which makes it a little more vegetarian-friendly. So you’ll find a lot of pizzas and pastas there with fairly vegan-friendly options as well.
It does have a long way to go to become a truly vegan country, but with more tourist interest, it certainly could become a destination like Canada or the UK for plant-based enthusiasts.
What is the Least Vegan-Friendly Country?
This is a tricky one as there are a handful of countries that are not cut out for vegans at all. In terms of food culture and availability of vegan restaurants and groceries, countries like Russia, Brazil, Japan, and South Korea are perhaps the worst.
In Russia, meat and dairy products are a common sight. South Korea is known for its barbeque and seafood. Even the vegetarian bibimbap often have eggs. Brazilians love their pork and beef, as they have churrascarias, which are basically all about eating meat.
Japan shouldn’t come as a surprise as one of the least vegan-friendly countries because of sushi. It can also be challenging to order even vegetarian food because of the language.
Verdict: What is the Most Vegan-Friendly Country?
As this list indicates, Israel is the most vegan-friendly country. With its population so readily adopting veganism and businesses in the food industry responding to that, the country will stay as a leading vegan country for a while.
After Israel, the US or Germany could easily grab the second spot as the best country for vegans. Both countries are experiencing exponential growth in vegan culture. With restaurants popping right, left, and center, their cities will become vegan havens in no time.