5 Vegan-Friendly Cuisines Around the World

Meza Platter

When it comes to vegan travel, no two countries are alike. In some destinations, vegan and vegetarian dining is code for wealthy, first-world folks with money to spend. In other places, the idea is so foreign that you find yourself famished at the end of the day, puzzled by how hard it is to find a decent meal and binging on Clif bars in your hotel room. Having experienced both ends of the spectrum in the past seven years, here are my favorite vegan-friendly cuisines beyond the obviously popular foods of India and China. In each of them, I’ve found easily accessible and affordable foods that were authentically native to the region and not just vegan reinventions. So, pack your bags, bring your appetite, and get ready to eat!

Beyanetu Platter

Ethiopian

This unique cuisine is a full-sensory experience. The heavenly aromas, colorful presentation, and amazing tastes are wrapped in injera, a spongy bread made of fermented teff, and then consumed by the handful. Beyanetu, the vegan platter, is what Ethiopian Orthodox Christians generally feast on at the end of a fasting day. On Wednesdays and Fridays or during special seasons of fasting, these meals are widely available in Ethiopia. If you happen to be in Addis Ababa, Itegue Taitu Hotel hosts a daily vegan lunch buffet that is well-worth the value and free Wi-Fi.

Stewed Pumpkin, Green Beans, Bread, and Fried Plantains

Trinidadian

In spite of my Jamaican citizenship, I must admit that I’m much better fed while in Trinidad. The collaboration of Caribbean and Indian flavors is tastiest in Trinidad. Doubles, a popular street food enjoyed by many, is my favorite vegan treat. Stewed chickpeas spread between fried dough, topped with sweet chutney and pepper sauce is quickly wrapped in wax paper for less than a dollar a piece. It’s so good that people will literally stand at the side of the road eating it, unable to wait until they get home. Additionally, you can find a wide variety of bean, legume, and vegetable dishes like dhal (split peas), channa (chickpeas), and roti bread– all of which are reminiscent of their Indian past but unique in their Caribbean branding.

Meza Platter

Middle Eastern

The Levant has exported culinary delights that have become almost staple in a vegan diet. Chickpea hummus spread, baba ghanoush eggplant dip, tabbouleh and fatoush salads, and the occasionally-vegan falafel are the MVPs of the region. But let’s not forget Egypt’s contribution: foul moudammas (mashed and stewed fava beans), kosh’ari (lentils, pasta, and rice topped with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions), and molokhia (stewed jute leaves). Among other points of strife, there is an ongoing debate about which country has exclusive rights to each dish or prepares it best. So, for the sake of peace, keep your opinions to yourself.

Tempeh, Tofu, Veggie Noodles, and Rice

Indonesian

One of the archipelago’s most celebrated gifts to the vegan community is tempeh. Yes, China has given us tofu served in all of its varied textures and form, but Indonesia took the same soybean and developed a fermented and nutty treat that can easily be found all over the country. Alongside, vegan Nasi Goreng fried rice or egg-less Gadu Gadu vegetable salad, fried tofu or tempeh make a delicious meal. As is typical of the region, some sauces might contain shrimp paste, so inquire first.

Maharage, Mhogo, and Chappati

Zanzibari

Discovering this side of Swahili cuisine was one of the best mistakes I ever made. My family and I were driving along the beaches of Oman and needed a break for lunch. Unbeknownst to us, we were in a Zanzibari Omani community and were pleasantly surprised by the abundant options of bean and vegetable dishes stewed in coconut milk like maharage (red beans), lubia (pigeon peas), and mhogo (cassava). I’m not sure why this delicious cuisine hasn’t spread much further than East Africa and Oman but I hope it does soon.

Chantal Blake

Chantal Blake is a Jamaican-American writer from New York City. A frequent traveler since birth, she married a fellow nomad and has been living abroad since 2008. In spite of her background in environmental engineering, her work abroad has included teaching English, travel writing, and raising two amazing kids. Her writing has been featured online and in-print and covers themes of family travel, veganism, and migration.

3 Comments

  • Reply December 31, 2015

    Katrina Briggs

    Love this article! Being vegan and traveling is hard sometimes. I will save this article so I can refer to it when I’m abroad. I visit France alot, mostly Paris, and I’m surprised at how vegan friendly they are becoming! I need to do a write up on all the vegan options in France. Great article!

  • […] This article was originally published at Travel Noire. […]

  • Reply January 3, 2016

    Chantal Blake

    Glad to be of service! All the best to you in your vegan travels and please do check out this spot for me the next time you’re in Paris: http://www.simplycyn.com/wcw/whos-that-girl_5/

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