For backpackers, tourists, or anyone who travels for work, trying exotic new cuisines is one of the best things about travelling. Who wouldn’t be excited to try authentic empanadas in Mexico, steaming-hot street food in Vietnam, or a plate of fresh gnocchi in Italy? But if you don’t eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs, things can be more difficult. Though the vegan movement is growing quickly, in many countries meals still centre around animal products, and the very concept of veganism can be met with bewilderment.
In many ways, Thailand is paradise for food lovers. You can’t cross a street without the aroma of frying garlic and chillies drawing you in, or smoke pouring from a street grill hitting your nose. Everywhere you go there’s a new temptation, whether it’s spicy papaya salad, fragrant coconut milk curry or traditional roti pancakes sizzling away. But in Thailand, navigating what’s safe to eat can be a minefield.‘Vegetarian’ generally means not eating meat or seafood: anything else, including meat stock, shrimp paste or fish sauce, is fair game. Get it right and you’ll be feasting on a variety of aromatic and flavorful dishes; get it wrong and you’ll find yourself inadvertently chewing on some gristle. Here’s how vegetarians can eat well in Thailand.
I didn’t expect to love Ho Chi Minh City as much as I did. More than any other place, Vietnam seems to divide travellers and tourists: they either really love it, or really don’t, and Ho Chi Minh City is often at the forefront of that. Because of this polarisation, I entered the city thinking I probably wouldn’t love it instantly, but perhaps it would grow on me. I was totally wrong. I LOVE Ho Chi Minh City – or Saigon, as everyone still calls it. Forget about it growing on me, it took about five minutes to realise this city was right up our street.
As Thailand’s northern capital, Chiang Mai has long been popular with travellers and adventure seekers. A historic city surrounded by dense rainforest, Chiang Mai is an alluringly laidback alternative to frenetic Bangkok, and this ‘Rose of the North’ is the perfect place for weary travellers to recharge their batteries. Despite its old-world associations, Chiang Mai today is a thoroughly modern city, one that embraces freshness and change as much as its cultural past: this is a city where barefoot monks and young hipsters are equally at home.
Bangkok is paradise for a food lover. You can’t cross a street without the aroma of frying garlic and chillies drawing you in, or smoke pouring from a street food grill hitting your nose. Everywhere you go, there’s a new temptation, whether it’s a spicy papaya salad, fragrant coconut milk curry or traditional roti pancakes sizzling away. You could spend weeks wandering these chaotic streets and barely scratch the culinary surface of this city, but many people only spend a few days in Bangkok. If you’re just passing through and want to make the most of your time here (i.e. eat as much as possible), there are a few things you can do to experience how diverse and delicious the food scene here is.
It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic place than Bali. With ornate Hindu temples, verdant green rice fields and white sand beaches, this beautiful Indonesian island encapsulates the idea of paradise. As one of the world’s top destinations for holistic retreats and a mecca for yoga enthusiasts, the concept of health and wellness permeates many aspects of tourism here. As a result, it’s also a dream for vegetarians and vegans — more so than any other country I’ve visited so far on this year-long trip.
Australia is such a vast country that writing an article about the best veggie hotspots would only offer the thinnest insight into the food scene here. Most visitors tend to stick to the ever-popular East Coast, which stretches from Cairns down to Melbourne. While not the capital, Sydney is indisputably the business and tourism hub of Australia: almost all visitors will find themselves here at one point, and the city has as many exciting food options as you’d expect. The appreciation for vegetarian food in Australia was not, on the whole, as prevalent as in other countries I’d visited (many people I encountered seemed to genuinely think I only ate vegetables), but there is still a growing vegetarian movement here.
Outside of Australia the name Noosa Heads might not ring a bell, but its reputation stretches far Down Under. Billed as the Australian Hamptons, this sunny Queensland beach town is every bit as glamorous as its counterpart, and just as beautiful. Located about a two hour drive north of Brisbane, Noosa’s tropical climate, excellent shopping and upscale dining has made it a mecca for luxury-seekers across the world. Celebrity sightings are aplenty (Richard Branson, Russell Crowe and Greg Kinnear are all fans) and the cosmopolitan crowd who flock here spend around $940 million per year. But despite its parallels with the Hamptons, Noosa is entirely unique.
Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen in most American cities, and Las Vegas is no exception. In and around the famous Strip are a peppering of taco joints and burrito bars, most serving up the usual fare. But as with most things, the City of Sin has taken Mexican food one step further. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has no less than 17 restaurants — a number that doesn’t seem so high once you consider its 2,995 rooms. Deciding where to eat can be a test, but as a serious aficionado of Mexican food, I had my heart set on guacamole and tacos. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas had bigger ideas. What’s the only thing better than Mexican food? Mexican and Chinese food.
New Zealand is known for its Middle Earth–inspiring beauty, Maori culture and passion for rugby more than for its food. Yet the endless swaths of farmland and 8,700 miles of coastline mean that meat and seafood feature strongly, and popular national dishes include roast lamb, oysters, and fish and chips. But vegetarianism has been increasingly steadily, and in the past five years the number of vegetarian Kiwis has reportedly grown 27 percent. During my time here I found that while there were few exclusively vegetarian eateries, most cafés and restaurants have several decent meat-free free options. Naturally, some are (much) better than others. Here’s where to find the best vegetarian food in New Zealand.
Known more for its beautiful beaches, rich culture and warm hospitality than for its food, Fiji has a far more extensive culinary repertoire than one might think. This group of South Pacific islands has a deep and diverse culture, and its cuisine takes influence from India, China, Polynesia, Melanesia, Rotuma and several other Pacific Islands. But just how diverse is the vegetarian food in Fiji? Read the full article on Food Republic HERE.
After spending the past eight months travelling through Latin America, our two week layover in the US felt very welcome. It was so good to be able to communicate easily again (our Spanish sucked), and it was also good to enjoy that excellent customer service. Not that Latin America had bad service (apart from Bolivia…), but it’s just SO good over here. So when we arrived in Las Vegas, the city of hedonism, excess, consumerism and glamour, we thought we may as go all out.
“The only way to experience Yosemite is by sleeping under the stars.” I read this years ago and it stayed with me. I’d wanted to visit California’s Yosemite National Park for a long, long time, and this January we got the opportunity. Sleeping under the stars, however, was out of the question, because our visit coincided with the heaviest snowfall in years.
Despite many people telling me I’d find it hard to find healthy, varied options, on the whole Central America surprised me by how veggie-friendly it could be. The standout was Guatemala, but each country’s people offered up their own unique meat-free treats and happily tweaked their dishes for vegetarians. So how hard would it be to find the best vegetarian food in Panama?
Costa Rica has come a long way. Described in the 18th century as “the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all of America,” today it is by far the richest and most stable country in Central America. Long popular with tourists due to its wildlife, beaches and exceptional coffee, in recent years Costa Rica has been busy advancing its gastronomic reputation too. But this is a country where most national dishes (“tico” to the locals) revolve around rice and beans with seafood or meat. Remove that from the equation, and how does Costa Rica’s vegetarian food fare?
Like much of Central America, Nicaragua isn’t really known for its food. Bordered by Costa Rica and Honduras and set between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, this country is celebrated more for its dramatic volcanic landscape than its culinary prowess. There’s a reason for this.
Guatemala: home of towering volcanoes, spectacular Mayan ruins — and the best vegetarian food in Central America? It’s true. Guatemala has been such a delight to explore and such an unexpected culinary standout that I don’t even know where to begin.
There are places you know you won’t find any good vegetarian food, and there are places you think you won’t find any. Belize is the latter. The Central American nation has a lot of coast for such a small country, so fish and seafood form a substantial part of the traditional diet. Ceviche, conch and lobster are the national dishes, and the idea that a vegetarian movement would be strong here didn’t seem too likely. But Belize is veggie-friendly — far more so than I anticipated.
Cuba is famous for many things. Rum. Cars. Cigars. Che. Food isn’t one of them. Aside from the staples (every Cuban citizen receives a regular supply of rice, sugar, coffee, meat, eggs and bread), food supplies are often limited and can run out without warning. Traveling the world as a vegetarian, Cuba was the country I thought would prove hardest to eat well in — or even moderately well. Its vegetarian food has a reputation for being either “completely uninspired” or “uniformly terrible” — but is the vegetarian food in Cuba really so bad? In a word, no. Definitely not. But I wouldn’t call it great, either. Let’s explore. HAVANA The first stop in Cuba is usually Habana Vieja, or Old Havana. As the…
The best thing about travelling is eating. There’s no better way to appreciate a different country and its culture than to tuck into the national dishes, and for most people, sampling the local cuisine is one of the things they look forward to most about exploring a new place. But if you’re vegetarian, things aren’t always so easy.