Kate is Animal Aid’s Slaughter Consultant and former Head of Campaigns.
There is something of a vegan revolution happening, and it is happening all over the world. Most cities worldwide have a generous offering of veggie and vegan restaurants, as well as health food shops and supermarkets that stock a wide range of animal-free products. Wherever your travels take you, take the Happy Cow app with you. It lists vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous restaurants where vegan meals can be found, and guides you to their doorstep.
In Europe, every city had plant-based options but some cities have become renowned for the wealth of vegan offerings; Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Glasgow and Warsaw offer more vegan options than you could possibly eat on a two-week holiday, but don’t assume the little towns and cities elsewhere will be a wasteland. Check the app and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Some of the unsurprising top US cities for vegans include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Other cities with more than 100 meat-free restaurants include Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta and Austin. It’s true there are parts of the US where plant-based eating hasn’t quite taken hold but the chain restaurants usually offer something, even if by accident!
In Australia, Melbourne may be the best option but veganism is a country-wide phenomenon. In Perth on the west coast, we ate at a different meat-free restaurant over a 10-day period – it was the first time I’d been offered vegan pheasant and prawns. Honestly, neither appealed but the vegetarian burger chain, Lord of the Fries, which has outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, is always a popular choice.
Around 30 per cent of people in India don’t eat meat with Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab having the most vegetarians and vegans per capita. In India – like the world over – it is easy to be vegan in the cities, but the country is both the largest producer and the largest buyer of milk, and dairy products get used a lot, so watch out for milk, cream and ghee. If you want choice, head to Chennai which has more than 80 vegetarian restaurants.
In Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to be with dozens of meat-free restaurants in this beautiful city. In Taipei, you’ll also be spoilt for choice and you’ll be in the birthplace of the Loving Hut, a vegan franchise that has restaurants in Spain, Austria, Vietnam, Singapore, Russia, New Zealand, Canada and four restaurants in the UK.
Of course, there are regions of the world where meat or dairy is found at the centre of every meal, and it is added to the soup, vegetables and sauces, too. A little bit of research and planning may be required before you arrive to ensure you won’t go hungry. Ask in online vegan groups if anyone else has visited that area and has any tips. Find out what the regional delicacies are, and how they are made. Make sure you know how Google translate works. And buy yourself a copy of the Vegan Society’s Passport – either the app or the paper copy. In parts of rural China and on the streets of Cairo, I played a lot of charades, made a few people laugh and got a good meal at the end of it. In some cases, I was invited by the laughing staff into the kitchen to point to the ingredients I wanted and didn’t want. But it should be acknowledged that it is much harder to engage with strangers and try to explain what you want using gestures, drawings and animal noises only, when you’re hungry so take some cereal bars with you. Hopefully, you won’t need them and you can bring them home again, but you will be glad you have them if things don’t go quite to plan.
If you’re going to a part of the world where you will struggle to find vegan restaurants, there is always the option of choosing self-catering accommodation so that you can make your own meals. Vegan ingredients are everywhere, even if vegan restaurants are not.
But if a holiday is not a holiday if you have to cook, then you may want to check out one of the many vegetarian B&Bs and hotels here in the UK, and all over the world. Start with VeggieHotels.com but there are many more besides.