Great Countries for Traveling Vegetarians

Great Countries for Traveling Vegetarians

Vegetarian dish

Posted June 29, 2024

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Traveling as a vegetarian can sometimes be challenging, but some countries stand out for their exceptional vegetarian-friendly options. Here’s a look at some top destinations for vegetarian travelers:


Belgium is a fantastic destination for vegetarians, particularly the city of Ghent, which has mandated one meatless day per week. This initiative, known as “Donderdag Veggiedag” (Thursday Veggie Day), promotes health and environmental sustainability without criticizing meat-eaters. Ghent’s vegetarian scene is thriving, with numerous restaurants offering delicious plant-based dishes. Highlights include Avalon, a cozy eatery known for its organic vegetarian menu, and Komkommertijd, a buffet-style restaurant with a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options.

Beyond Ghent, other Belgian cities also provide a variety of vegetarian-friendly options, making the country an excellent choice for those who prefer meat-free meals. Brussels, for instance, boasts several vegetarian and vegan restaurants, such as the trendy Humus x Hortense, which focuses on local, seasonal produce. In Antwerp, Beni Falafel serves up mouth-watering falafel wraps, while Lombardia is famous for its vegan sandwiches and juices.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a paradise for health-conscious vegetarians, combining nutritious Latin cuisine with an outdoor-centric lifestyle. From Montezuma to San Jose, vegetarian travelers will find a plethora of options beyond the standard rice and beans. Notable spots include Cha Cha Cha! in Cahuita, Café Organico in Montezuma, and Flor de Vida in Monteverde. A must-try is the traditional gallo pinto with plantains, accompanied by fresh local fruits and corn-based dishes, offering a true taste of Costa Rican flavors.

The country’s commitment to sustainability and organic farming further enhances its appeal to vegetarians. Many restaurants emphasize locally sourced, organic ingredients, ensuring that meals are both healthy and environmentally friendly. In the capital city of San Jose, visit Café Rojo for a delicious Vietnamese-Costa Rican fusion menu that includes a variety of vegetarian options. For a unique dining experience, head to the Arenal area and dine at Restaurante Veggie House, which offers creative vegetarian dishes with a stunning view of the Arenal Volcano.

Arenal Volcano. a view of a mountain from a moving vehicle

Photo by Nisarg Patel


India is a vegetarian’s haven, with its cuisine being naturally rich in vegetarian dishes. Whether you’re in the north, south, or central regions, the variety of flavors and sauces available is enticing. Popular vegetarian dishes include vegetable pakoras, rice dosas, aloo roti, palak paneer, and eggplant curry. Top vegetarian-friendly eateries include Joney’s Place in Agra, Manis Lunch Home in Mumbai, and Rajdhani Thali in New Delhi, ensuring that vegetarians have plenty of delicious options throughout the country.

The prevalence of vegetarianism in India is deeply rooted in the culture and religion, particularly within Hinduism and Jainism. This cultural backdrop makes it easy to find vegetarian meals at almost any restaurant. In the southern state of Kerala, known for its lush landscapes and backwaters, you can enjoy a traditional Sadhya meal served on a banana leaf, featuring a variety of vegetarian dishes. In the north, Amritsar’s famous langar at the Golden Temple serves free vegetarian meals to thousands of visitors daily, offering a unique and spiritually enriching dining experience.


Thailand is exceptionally welcoming to vegetarians, especially during its annual Vegetarian Festival. Even outside of the festival, vegetarian travelers will find plenty of options. Renowned vegetarian spots include May Kaidee’s, Tamarind Café, and Chang Mai’s popular Riverside Bar and Restaurant. Additionally, numerous veggie stalls at food markets in Phuket and Bangkok offer a variety of plant-based delights. Common ingredients like lemongrass, lotus stems, and cashews make Thai vegetarian dishes some of the healthiest and most flavorful you can find.

Thai cuisine is known for its balance of flavors, incorporating sweet, sour, salty, and spicy elements in each dish. This complexity makes vegetarian Thai food particularly satisfying and exciting. In Bangkok, the upscale restaurant Bonita Café and Social Club offers a fully vegan menu with both Thai and Western dishes. For a more casual experience, head to one of the many Jay (vegetarian) stalls and restaurants, which are marked by yellow flags with red writing. These establishments adhere to strict vegetarian principles and often cater to vegans as well.


Italy, known for its rich culinary heritage, is surprisingly vegetarian-friendly. Italian cuisine offers an abundance of delicious vegetarian dishes, from simple yet exquisite Margherita pizza to an array of pastas like spaghetti aglio e olio, penne arrabbiata, and creamy risottos. Cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan boast numerous vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

In Rome, Il Margutta is a renowned vegetarian restaurant that offers a diverse menu of organic dishes. Florence is home to Brac, a bookshop and café that serves creative vegetarian meals. In Milan, Joia is a Michelin-starred restaurant that elevates vegetarian cuisine to an art form. Don’t miss out on the fresh produce markets across the country where you can find a variety of fruits, vegetables, and local cheeses.

Margherita pizza. round cooked pizza

Photo by Aurélien Lemasson Théobald


Japan might not be the first country that comes to mind for vegetarians, but it offers some excellent options for those who know where to look. Traditional Japanese cuisine includes many vegetarian-friendly dishes like vegetable tempura, edamame, miso soup, and a variety of sushi rolls made with cucumber, avocado, and pickled vegetables.

Kyoto, with its rich cultural heritage, is particularly vegetarian-friendly. The city is known for its Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, or shojin ryori, which you can experience at places like Ajiro and Shigetsu, located within the Tenryu-ji Temple. Tokyo also offers several vegetarian and vegan restaurants, such as T’s Tantan, a popular vegan ramen shop, and Ain Soph, a chain of vegan restaurants offering everything from pancakes to curry.


Israel is a great destination for vegetarians, thanks to its Mediterranean diet, which naturally includes a lot of fresh vegetables, legumes, and grains. Israeli cuisine features many vegetarian staples like falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, and shakshuka. Tel Aviv, in particular, is known for its vibrant vegetarian and vegan food scene.

The city’s Carmel Market is a must-visit for its fresh produce and street food vendors. Anastasia is a popular vegan café in Tel Aviv, offering a wide range of plant-based dishes. In Jerusalem, try the famous hummus at Abu Shukri, and don’t miss out on the vegetarian-friendly salads and spreads that are a staple of Israeli meals.


Germany might be famous for its sausages and schnitzels, but it also has a growing vegetarian scene. Cities like Berlin and Hamburg are leading the way with numerous vegetarian and vegan restaurants. In Berlin, the neighborhood of Kreuzberg is a hotspot for vegetarian and vegan eateries, including the well-loved Vöner, which offers a vegan take on the classic döner kebab.

Hamburg’s HappenPappen is a cozy vegan bistro known for its delicious burgers and cakes. Even traditional German cuisine can be enjoyed in a vegetarian way, with dishes like Käsespätzle (cheese noodles) and various potato-based dishes being widely available. The rise of organic and health food stores also makes it easier for vegetarians to find suitable ingredients and products throughout the country.


Taiwan is a paradise for vegetarians, with a culinary tradition that includes a wealth of plant-based dishes. Taiwanese cuisine is heavily influenced by Buddhism, which promotes vegetarianism. Night markets in cities like Taipei and Tainan offer a plethora of vegetarian street food options, such as scallion pancakes, vegetable dumplings, and tofu dishes.

Vegetarian buffets are also common in Taiwan, where you pay by the weight of your plate. Renowned vegetarian restaurants include Minder Vegetarian and Fruitful Food, both in Taipei. Additionally, many temples offer vegetarian meals to visitors, providing a unique cultural and culinary experience.

Whether you’re seeking healthful meals or vibrant cultural experiences, these countries offer fantastic vegetarian options that will enhance your travel adventures. Belgium’s innovative approach to meat reduction, Costa Rica’s organic and fresh cuisine, India’s rich and diverse vegetarian traditions, Thailand’s flavorful and balanced dishes, Italy’s timeless vegetarian classics, Japan’s hidden vegetarian gems, Israel’s Mediterranean delights, Germany’s emerging vegetarian scene, and Taiwan’s Buddhist-influenced cuisine make these destinations top choices for vegetarian travelers. Enjoy your culinary journey as you explore the world, knowing that delicious vegetarian meals await you at every stop.

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