Vegetarian & Vegan Destinations
Tourism niches exist for many things: ecotourism (flora & fauna), architourism (architectural) , food tourism, and music tourism all represent ways in which people are motivated to travel. As a sub sector of food tourism, vegetarian and vegan food destinations are becoming another reason to travel. Vegan food is customary to certain cultures and traditions, and is also becoming widely accepted as humans move towards more plant based, meat-free diets. There’s a mixture of new vegan and vegetarian creations being crafted, as well as vegan modifications of classics like burgers, fried chicken, and ice cream. Both domestically and internationally, vegan hotspots are definitely popping up.
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.A
The mountainous city of Asheville, North Carolina is a cultural mecca, from live entertainment, unique craft breweries, and the ever loved Biltmore Estate – Asheville is a destination worth visiting for multiple nights. Asheville has numerous vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Laughing Seed Cafe is a salad & sandwich shop with a twist on international vegetarian cuisine, from Banh Mi Tacos (filled with Jackfruit and Kimchi) to a Cuban Grilled Cheese (with portobello mushroom “ham”), there’s something for everyone at Laughing Seed. Rosetta’s Kitchen is another city staple that has existed since 2002.They operate on a sliding scale, which allows for guests to pay more or less for their meal to ensure that all may eat; with three outlets – their downtown restaurant, a downstairs buchi bar, and a satellite cafe at University of North Carolina – Asheville’s campus which are all popular vegan choices and helps Rosetta’s further their commitment to serving everyone in their community with healthy food. Food variety is second to none at Rosetta’s and Laughing Seed. The Block off Biltmore is the cities vegan bar, which houses vegan snacks from local purveyors and offers a large selection of gluten free craft beers, and they even have a kombucha beer on tap. When you’re not eating delicious food or having a pint, you’ll be taking in the beautiful sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains in this lovely ‘small city’ vegan destination!
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
Outdoor adventures, tax-free shopping, and more craft breweries are some of the things you’ll find in Portland, Oregon. Portland has previously taken the crown for best vegan destination according to PETA in 2016 thanks to their thriving restaurant scene, as well as other vegan establishments like Scapegoat Tattoo, one of the city’s two vegan tattoo parlors, or the world’s first vegan mini-mall located in South Portland. Over forty restaurants have 100% vegan items on the menu, making this a definite ‘win’ for any vegan traveler. Portland’s first vegan restaurant actually opened in the 19th century (1890) by the Seventh-day Adventists and the oldest and longest running tofu factory in the States, Ota Tofu, is just blocks from Portland’s convention center! If you’re looking for sweets – some of the best donuts anywhere are based in Portland. National up and coming chain Voodoo Doughnut has a line of vegan specialities, and Portland-chain Blue Star offers local vegan donuts; entirely vegan Doe Donuts opened in 2017 offering locally sourced ingredients with a sincere mission. Doe has some very tasty-sounding donuts including a seasonal Chocolate Stout Twist (Modern Times Coffee Stout, Ganache, pretzels, and sea salt) or a savory Samosa donut (potatoes, onions, peas, and spice). An extremely unique vegan dining experience is available at cascadian farm-to-table restaurant Farm Spirit, offering a 12 course tasting menu by reservation for $85 per person. All of Farm Spirit’s produce comes from less than 105 miles from their location in Portland. No Bones Beach Club is where you’ll find pub-food in the city’s first vegan Tiki bar, from Pineapple Radish Wontons and Buffalo / Sesame Ginger Cauliflower Wings, dining vegan has never tasted so good while also making a difference. Not only is Portland providing exceptional vegan food in the pacific northwest, it’s a fantastic destination for nature and recreation lovers, and is well deserving of the accolades it receives from vegan communities.
Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
Bakeries, barbecue, tacos, and ramen (or vegan jambalaya on a stick) are all available for vegans and vegetarians in the heart of Texas. Austin, the capital of Texas, is home to yearly music/tech/film festival South by Southwest (SXSW) and lots of recreational activities. The vegan scene in Austin is thriving in large part to an established vegan community, and vegan lifestyle blogs and guides. Nightlife curbside kitchen Arlo’s is one of the cities gems, with three locations – their fresh, 100% plant-based menu offers burgers, tacos, and sides. The ‘Bac’n Cheezeburger’ (House-made soy free & gluten free patty, stacked with house-made seitan bac’n, melted cheeze, mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, onions, pickles, lettuce) is their claim to fame. You might even grab your next vegan meal from a vending machine if Austin’s Alpaca Market has their say. Alpaca is a “salad forward” vending machine featuring “farm fresh food on the fly” including 5 different salads and sides like yogurt parfaits, overnight oats, baba ganoush, hummus, etc. The city also has its own vegan/cruelty-free grocery store Rabbit Food Grocery, and 100% plant-based taco stand The Vegan Nom that features breakfast and signature tacos. The Grilled Avocado Reale, a signature taco, features grilled avocados, caramelized onion, kale, pepper jack cheese, black beans, salsa verde, cilantro-lime crema, cilantro, and sprouts. While their plant-based eateries are numerous, many of Austin’s staples offer vegan and vegetarian friendly options.
San Fran/Oakland/Berkley, California, U.S.A.
One of the most vegan friendly places is the Bay area of Northern California – the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkley all have distinct vegan cuisine – in fact, you could consider each of these cities a vegan destination in their own right, but since they’re so close to each other, we will combine them as one destination to explore. Itching that craving for southern food, “Souley Vegan” caters to transplants and locals alike, offering classics like southern fried tofu, country style seitan steak, and of course biscuits and gravy. Millenium Restaurant is a bay area staple that’s satisfied vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike with an ever changing menu since 1994. Hella Vegan Eats, a wholly vegan food truck with an evolving menu offers delectable twists on american classics; some of their recent menu items offered were Crispy ‘chicken’ and waffles, burritos, and onion rings. Legendary Berkley Restaurant Chez Pannise is a farm-to-table establishment offering some of the freshest, local ingredients available in the region since 1971.Greens of San Fransisco has innovating vegetarian cuisine since 1979, refreshing an entirely vegetarian menu with exquisite selections and earning recognition from Michelin and James Beard. Veggie sushi bar Shizen in San Francisco is another local delight – combining the flavors of traditional sushi into vegetable-centered rolls with tofu, tempeh, and bean curd as substitutes for meat, as well as offering ramen and salads. Overall, Northern California’s bay area truly has a wide variety of vegan cuisines with so many options that you cannot go wrong in this long-time vegan-friendly region.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv, Israel is one of the world’s largest vegan meccas. Boasting 400 vegan and vegetarians eateries, it’s tough to imagine going to Tel Aviv and NOT having an amazing meat-free meal. Staples like hummus and falafel are naturally vegan, and as the largest vegan nation per capita, with 5% of their citizens being vegan or vegetarian, there are plant-based options almost everywhere. Tel Aviv is also known for its proximity to its food; many of the ingredients are coming from close to the source and are used fresh daily, often purchased at the city’s famous Carmel Market, leading to many restaurants having revolving menus instead of standardized items. American style food like burgers and pizza are plentiful – Domino’s even offers animal-free pizza in order to cater to the citizens of Israel. Burgers from Rainbow Burger and Goodness are practically authentic as well as unique. Vegan shop and cafe Anastasia offers breakfast items like corn omelettes, soups and salads, sweet desserts, and drinks such as. their Hot Almond Milkshake with cocoa and banana! Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, vegan paradise Meshak Barzilay has everything to fill a large appetite and is one of Tel Aviv’s finest vegan restaurants. Zakaim is a Persian inspired vegan restaurant, locally sourced and organic; their empanadas are a mixture of chard, mushroom, onions and potato, and they have wonderful grain dishes like risotto and couscous. Tel Aviv ia a great destination for anyone wishing to eat as a vegan or vegetarian.
Germany’s capital is home to a forward-thinking culture and environmentally conscious community. Part of this trend is their acceptance of plant-based restaurants and menu items. Most of the restaurants in Berlin are labeling dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, or can be made so. Fifty restaurants are exclusively vegan/vegetarian to cater to the estimated more than 80,000 vegans living in Berlin. Vegan clothing stores and even a sex shop are also available. You can pick up trendy wears at DearGoods and Loveco and shoes at Avesu all while supporting local businesses and animal advocacy. Nestled in East Berlin is Essentis Hotel, an eco hotel powered by solar panels, and whose mission is for the property and its guests to be in harmony with Mother Earth. Inside the hotel, Amaranth Cafe & Restaurant uses 100% organic ingredients and sources locally, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week. Rawtastic is Berlin’s vegan raw bar, offering items like Avocado unToast (served on Raw buckwheat bread), raw vegan pizzas, kelp pasta, and delectable desserts. Vegan Doner is available at comfort food oasis Chaostheorie, where their entire vegan menu has something for everyone and includes Berlin’s first vegan cocktail bar, where they whip up signature and standard cocktails, milkshakes, and more! Germany is known for its beer and the vegan traveler will be pleased to know that most German beers are naturally vegan. Taking in the rich history of Berlin is surely a reason to go, while experiencing the future of dining may be the highlight of a trip to this renowned city.
Hiking, architecture, and beautiful scenery are in abundance in Taipei, Taiwan. Characterized as a “vegan paradise” by both visitors and inhabitants, Taipei is a thriving city for vegans or vegetarians with over 220 vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Part of this tradition is attributed to Buddhism and the sense that eating a plant-based diet can improve your karma. Taiwan is known for vegetarian buffets, and Taipei has plenty to visit. Many of the best vegetarian spots are small and located in alleyways in the city, so being ready to explore is important. For those with a sweet tooth, a trip to Vegan Heaven should be at the top of your list. They’re a vegan cake shop filled with unique desserts like a Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart or Radiant! Raspberry Mousse. Rainbow macarons, pastries, and speciality drinks round out their menu. Animals are at the forefront of importance for vegan diners in Taipei. Following this mission, About Animals is a soul food cafe offering vegan versions of burgers and sandwiches, and uses their business to promote animal rights and a love of the earth. Mianto is a locally sourced organic vegan cafe teeming with italian influence, a variety of pasta dishes like Baked Lasagna, Build-your-own Pizza, and Original pasta (chopped garlic and chili peppers, olives, diced tomatoes, and oregano over top of Spaghetti in an olive oil base) will satisfy international travelers and those looking for an Italian experience in Taipei. Finding delicious vegan cuisine is possible all over Taiwan, and Taipei in particular is a wonderful destination for those seeking unique vegan dining experiences in Asia.
In the upper reaches of North America is a city situated between beautiful mountains and the ocean. Vancouver is a vegan destination like no other. From vegan friendly shoes to vegan dim sum, Canada’s Western Metropolis has a plethora of dining options for plant-based diets. Unique vegan chocolate from Zimt or sweet-chili roasted cauliflower from MeeT are two menu items worth travelling for; 24/7 vegetarian eatery The Naam is one of Vancouver’s treasures, offering live music, art, and satisfying vegan diets since 1968. They make a variety of cuisine entrees and nightly Chef inspired curry dinner specials, but their Dragon Bowls are their staple. Their eponymous bowl ‘Naam’ is a mixture of steamed veggies on organic brown rice with miso gravy, tofu, peanut sauce, grated carrots & beets, organic alfalfa sprouts & wakame. Vegans have been inspired to make their own dragon bowls based on the ones at The Naam for decades. Chomp Vegan Eatery labels themselves “Vegan food that doesn’t suck”, and while vegan food certainly doesn’t suck, Chomp takes comfort food to a new level, offering an entirely vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free menu featuring baked Mac ‘n Cheesy, a Tempeh Banh Mi, Chomp Sliders, and their own vegan version of Canadian staple Poutine. After dining out at one of Vancouver’s incredible vegan establishments, take a stroll on the seashore and take in the natural views of numerous city parks, mountains, and green spaces.
Vegan destinations are continuing to emerge, and this is just the beginning. Current trends indicate that more and more places are likely to become vegan friendly by offering additional vegan options. In just a short time these cities have become popular culinary destinations, and other locales can look to these examples as places to emulate when planning future vegan and vegetarian friendly eateries.
Sources: PETA, The Culture Trip, Trips to Discover, LiveKindly, Telegraph, Veg Voyages, World Food Travel, Venngage, The Block Off Biltmore, Laughing Seed Cafe, Rosettas Kitchen, PDX Eater, Travel Portland, Daily Hive, Independent, 7×7, SF Eater, Oakland Vegfest, Hella Vegan Eats, Millenium Restaurant, Shizen SF, Chez Panisse, Zen Habits, Secret Tel Aviv, Indefinite Adventure, Vegan Taiwan Blogspot, Vegan Food Quest, The Vegan Nom, Alpaca Market, World Veg Festival, Lazysmurf, Red Hot Vegans, Blue Star Donuts, Lonely Planet, Happy Cow, Facebook – About Animals, Chomp Vegan Eatery, Indefinite Adventure, Farm Spirit PDX, No Bones PDX, Zakaim Tel Aviv, Mianto, Meshek Barzilay, DW, DearGoods, LoveCo, Berlin-Vegan, Chaostheorie, VeggieHotels, RawTastic, Vegan Nom Noms, Souley Vegan, Greens Restaurant