Sunday 16 July 2023

Best and Worst Countries for Vegans After 1 Year of Travelling Vegan

best country for vegans

Looking for the best vegan-friendly countries? I've officially travelled the world* for one year as a vegan proving (in my mind at least) that if I can be vegan whilst moving around and not speaking the languages, you can definitely do it in your own home. (*When I say travelled the world, I mean North America, Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia, totally at 18 countries. It's definitely not the whole world, but there was a good mix of west and east, poor and rich, English speaking and not, etc.) Here are those countries ranked from worst to best for vegan friendliness!

Worst Countries for Vegans

These next three countries are the ones I've found the hardest to be vegan in... and when I say vegan, I mean eating a plant- (and fungi) based diet as much as possible and doable, among other things (like not supporting zoos, aquariums or leather products, etc). Here we go:

#18. Vegan Japan

I found that Japan was one of the worst countries for vegans. They don't even seem to have a survey on the number of vegans in their country: according to a 2014 poll referenced by, 2.7 percent identified as vegan (of only 1188 people lol so don't take that seriously plus the link to the survey itself is dead anyway... soooo no known statistics there). Anyway, this wasn't really surprising - I can't speak or read Japanese, or even attempt to guess it (unlike Latin languages), and Japan is famous for sushi and unusual/surprising food combinations (the worst moment was feeling safe eating bread, only to bite into it and find fish embedded in it, like you would sun-dried tomatoes or olives).

worst countries for vegans

Despite this, Japan was my favourite place I travelled to all year and I'd go back in a heartbeat! The best moment was finding a vegan restaurant that was a 100% vegan, and I could finally live out my fantasy of randomly picking something off a Japanese menu. It was incredibly delicious. Still don't know what it was, but at least it was vegan! It is challenging to be vegan in Tokyo, but I think I've cracked it so I wrote you a post: how to be vegan in Tokyo. Furthermore, World Vegan Travel now do trips to Japan! They are my absolute favourite all-inclusive vegan trips - they take care of everything from food to cruelty-free activities and beyond, I cannot recommend them enough!

#17. Vegan Italy

If it wasn't for the fact Italian is 12 hundred times easier to understand than Japanese (for English speakers at least), I'd have put Italy above Japan as being the hardest place to eat as a vegan - Italian food is all about cheese, meat, fresh fish and gelato. You think you'd be safe with a plain pizza base, but no, they often put lard in that. Italy is definitely one of the worst countries for vegans in Europe.  I mean, relatively. According to a 2019 survey, only 1.9% percent of the population is vegan. Big cities like Rome and Naples are definitely doable, Sicily is pretty good, but tiny towns far away from big cities (where I lived for three months), not so much.

best countries for vegans

Still, after lots of moaning and Mama mia-ing, I got over it and found the good vegan food in Italy - because although they might make you vegan food rather reluctantly, Italians can't help but make food taste good. And in the end, I found a pizza that was better than any meat one I'd ever had (seriously). Anyway, there are a few vegan tips and tricks, so I wrote you another hopefully helpful post: how to be vegan in Italy. And World Vegan Travel are now also offering trips to Italy. No need to worry about anything if you go with those guys. [More on Europe: quick guide to vegan Madrid]

#16. Vegan Philippines

The number of vegans in the Philippines? No idea, no data, as far as I know. I was super shocked that it was hard to be vegan in the Philippines - I'd been there as a meat eater, and Filipinos speak amazing English  thanks to its large TEFL community and so I thought it would be easy, but no the Philippines is one of the worst countries for vegans. I'd forgotten that Filipinos love pork and they adore cheese - if there's a vegetarian option available, it will be cheese topped with cheese and some cheese on the side.

top countries for vegans

Luckily for all the vegans that like beaches from paradise and the nicest people ever, (aka the Philippines), it is still definitely possible to be vegan in the Philippines, so I wrote you this post: how to be vegan in the Philippines. Update: my Hungarian bf Tamás found out since then that they had a 'Veggie Fest' in 2019 so the time they are a-changin' :)

Vegan-friendly countries (ish)

These countries were more vegan-friendly in terms of food but it was still not particularly easy to eat plant-based when I was there.

#15. Vegan Laos

I only spent five days in Laos, and only stayed in the capital Vientiane, so I don't feel like I can totally judge it properly - all I can say is I can judge it better than people who haven't been there at all. In Vientiane there were a surprisingly large number of vegan restaurants - I went to the same one every day because it was so damn good. They also have the nicest coconut ice cream everywhere so they get plus points for that. Minus points of course for most of their other restaurants which were very meat-centric. And for the fact that you can ride elephants there :( I haven't written about the food in Laos (let me know if you'd like me to).

vegan friendly countries

I did write about 5 reasons not to skip Vientiane on my sister-site though. [Update: I have now written about the food in Laos: vegan in Laos - thanks for the requests!] P.S. from Laos it's easy to hop on over to Vietnam - which World Vegan Travel are currently offering trips to! Lastly, if you’re planning to visit any country in far east, I’d recommend you to check out OutdoorCrunch’s top osprey travel backpack picks if you’re looking to get one. The farther you go, the more the backpack matters!

#14. Vegan Thailand

Thailand is similar to Laos (or is Laos similar to Thailand?). Basically, there are lots of meat-based dishes, elephant rides and of course there is fish sauce in everything. Even if you can tell your waiter that you don't want meat or fish or dairy*, they often don't get that you mean you also don't want fish sauce. (*I actually asked my Thai friend to write that down for me, and then I just showed everyone). Anyway, I could have put Thailand in the worst section, but they get massive bonus points for two reasons: 1. Bangkok (and obviously Chiang Mai) have loads of amazing vegan restaurants, with some of the best food I've had in my whole life. Yes, for Thai standards they are expensive, for Western prices? Super cheap. 2. They also have the best fruit and veg markets (okay there's the odd live turtle or two :( )  but the fruit and veg are incredible and oh so cheap and fresh.

most vegan friendly countries

I love Thailand, I spent 3 months there this year and would easily live there apart from the annoying visa... I wrote 7 Easy, Healthy, Vegan Meals You Can Make in Thailand because although Bangkok and Chiang Mai do have the best vegan restaurants, they are expensive (for Thai food), so if you're there for a long time, get a place with a kitchen and cook these meals yourself. I made sure they were things you can actually cook in Thailand (aka using ingredients you can actually find there, and without needing an oven, because no one has an oven in Thailand, apart from expats and thus house sitters). I also house sat in Thailand which is, in my opinion, the best way for vegans to travel [Find out more here: vegan house sitting]. And World Vegan Travel are also offering trips to Thailand! With so much to do and see in Thailand, I personally recommend going with them first if you're nervous about travelling there, and then coming back another time when they've helped you find your feet :) Update: Hungarian bf Tamás has found out that they actually have a so-called Vegetarian Festival (the Tesagan Gin Je Festival) and although it's called Vegetarian Festival, most Thai people actually eat vegan ('jay') during this time (pretty misleading lol). No data on the number of vegans in Thailand tho (3.3% are vegetarian according to wikipedia)

#13., #12. and #11. Vegan Denmark, Norway, Sweden (+Finland)

I tied Denmark, Norway and Sweden because I was only there for a few days and what I liked and didn't like about them (vegan-wise) was universal to all three. I very nearly put them higher up than Canada, the USA and the UK, because these Scandinavian countries have such a great attitude to anything liberal. But they lost points because their food is expensive and isn't as yummy as Canada, the US and the UK. Sorry!

vegan friendly countries

On the other hand, what I really liked about Denmark, Norway and Sweden was that their hotels all seem to be super clued into the fact that vegans exist and don't want plain bread and cereal with water for breakfast (aka they provided plenty of vegan options including vegan milks). What I didn't like was that food is soooo expensive there - this isn't a vegan exclusive thing at all, all food is expensive. Like £4 for a cartoon of juice expensive. No. I also didn't like that their food is very berry/bread/winter-y based. Like it's no hummus and olive land. Obviously. But I don't think I can count that against them on the vegan scale, that's just my own personal preference of food. But I need to go back and explore these countries properly for sure. Also, Sweden ranks pretty well among countries with highest percentage of vegans...

Update: though I haven't included it in the list, Finland even has a vegan speciality store, Vegekauppa and Denmark started the world's first 'how to quit meat' helpline (lol but cool!) and an accompanying campaign [check out the video above]

#10. Vegan Canada

Oh, how I want to be biased and put Canada above the US like I would if it was any other category! Canada gets plus points for being English speaking friendly (which as I'm writing that seems super-biased). Also, according to a 2018 survey, 2.3% of the Canadian population consider themselves vegan. But being able to ask the waiter for something on the menu, but without meat or cheese is like a massive thing when you're travelling vegan (obviously). Canada also gets plus points for having delicious - DIVERSE foods!!

best countries for vegans

You can say Canada/US/UK don't really have their own cuisines until the cows come home, but like what we lack in our own foods, we make up for in stealing yours and adding a twist to them - I had some of the best Mexican food ever in Canada #fact. But Canada loses points for being slightly behind the US when it comes to vegan awareness. It's true that most restaurants I went to had a vegan option (or adapted a vegetarian option for me); but it's also true that Tim Hortons had NOTHING for me - like isn't that the essential Canadian cuisine? I couldn't find vegan poutine anywhere. ANDDD to top it off, I worked with a tourism board, who almost insisted I went to a restaurant called Meat. Lol. Like, no. [Correction: one of our dear readers informed us that the name of the place is MeeT, it's in Victoria and it is actually vegan! Thanks Shelby :)] Anyway, I love Canada, and would happily live there, I'm already starting to feel harsh about putting it at number 10... let's move on!

#9. Vegan USA

Okay, I was super impressed with the USA, which is not something I say lightly. (I met some Americans once who put cheese in my salad and told me "not to worry it was less than a teaspoons worth". Haha.) Anyway, I was prepared to call the USA out for being un-vegan. But according to this survey, 3% of American consider themselves vegan. And the place just impressed me. Okay admittedly I only went to big cities this year (San Francisco, LA and Las Vegas), but still, credit where credit is due - well done West Coast USA. So ramble aside what was good? Obviously, English is widely spoken and written everywhere, (albeit a poor version of English, lol jokes). Um, in San Francisco I went to a super fancy restaurant and they went out of their way to be hyper-vegan aware for me. Like so much so, that this waitress literally dive-bombed the table to stop me eating this one sauce, because it's usually not vegan, and she went off to triple check they'd adjusted it (they had).

worst countries for vegans

Also in San Francisco, I went to a vegan cafe and had the most tuna-tasting fake tuna I've ever had (I love the taste of tuna so this was a big win). Trader Joes turned out to be my new favourite place in the world - they do amazing, fresh vegan friendly salads and sandwiches, perfect for anyone whose been travelling for ages and is sick of travel food (aka alternating between pb sandwiches and eating out). In Las Vegas, I found the best sushi I've ever had - including all the fish sushi I ate back before I 'got woke'. So yea, all in all I was impressed by the vegan friendliness of the USA. You go girl!

#8. Vegan UK

Ah England, the apple of my eye. I don't care what anyone says. British food is GOOD. We've got Marmite, we've got PIES, we've got the English breakfast, and, best of all, we've been to your country (fckd shit up, sorry about that), but then we've come back and brought your delicious cuisines with us (cultural appropriation big time, says Hungarian bf Tamás). The French and the Italians, and actually pretty much everyone, are very quick to laugh at 'stodgy, tasteless British food' and Spotted Dick (lol spotted dick), BUTTT I've been to Italy, and although Italian food is really, really great, it's hard to find other cuisines done well there. In the UK, you'll find exquisite Chinese, Indian, French, Thai, Italian and Mexican food. For starters. Then you'll find Vietnamese, Lebanese, Brazilian, Ethiopian and so. much. more.

vegan friendly countries

And also: it was the UK that gave birth to the vegan movement (founded by Donald Watson in 1944 heart heart heart... let's not forget about the anti-speciesist women pioneers, either!) in the Global North. Hence the UK is still no. 1. when it comes to European countries with highest percentage of vegans: according to the Vegan Society "the number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. In 2019 there were 600,000 vegans, or 1.16% of the population; 276,000 (0.46%) in 2016; and 150,000 (0.25%) in 2014." and according to another survey, there are 3.5 million (!) vegans in the UK currently. Downsides to the UK? The attitudes of some dumb idiots towards veganism, obviously you get this in pretty much every country, but in the UK I find myself talking to these people more for some reason. You know who you are. Even in Bristol, which is the most vegan-friendly British city of them all probs  [Read more: vegan London guide]

#7. Vegan Jordan

I was only really in Jordan for 48 hours, I'm not sure how it sneaked its way up to number 7. It's just that in 48 hours I ate a lot of good food. It was very hummus- and salad-centric, which is probably why it crept up to 7.

vegan friendly countries

Also actually, we were on a tour, and the tour guide treated everyone to a Jordanian treat. I couldn't have it because it was super un-vegan (it had cheese anddd honey in it lol). He went out of his way to find me a vegan version, even though I insisted it was fine, he was super eager that I wouldn't miss out, which was lovely. Thanks Jordan!

#6. Vegan UAE

Like Jordan, UAE was full of hummus, but it went a step further - I found Marmite in the UAE :O anddd the best Indian restaurant ever haha. In my experience, countries that are Muslim, like Jordan and the UAE, have a much better attitude towards and acceptance of vegans than say non-Muslim countries.

best country for vegans

Yes, Halal meat is still awful (meat is still mostly m..rder folks, no matter how they do it), butttt I think in general, Muslim countries understand that you have a food preference, and that it's a big deal. What I mean by this, is that things are mostly properly labelled, and if you tell someone you want it to be vegan, they make damn sure that it is (unlike in say, Thailand). [Read more: guide to being vegan in Dubai]

#5. Vegan Hungary

Oh, how I so want Hungary to be in that best spot! I absolutely love Hungary, at the end of the year I pretty much settled here, I'm learning the language and Budapest is my favourite city. When it comes to Budapest, Hungary is a super vegan friendly country - they have over 23, incredible, vegan restaurants, and whilst they do tend to be a bit more expensive than normal local Hungarian restaurants (not the tourist restaurants, just the ones Hungarians go to), they're still cheaper than restaurants in say the UK or the USA. Restaurants aside, Budapest has an incredible range of vegan produce in the shops - Budapest Aldi carries a better vegan range than even the UK Aldis do - it's Almond milk/chickpea/lentil/tofu central there.

best countries for vegans

Tesco has all the vegan essentials you can't find in the rest of Hungary (like peanut butter and Marmite). Spar carries dope vegan nuggets. Aldi has even doper vegan cream, this one mmmm. And there are organic shops on every corner that carry vegan cheeses, meats, yoghurts and of course lentils. Plus there are at least three fruit and veg shops per street. So where does Hungary lose points? Unfortunately in the rest of the country. It wasn't bad, I didn't starve, but it's nothing compared to Budapest. Update: Hungarian Dóra wrote us a dope-ass guest post proving that it's super easy to be vegan in Szeged. Update no. 2: the Hungarian version of Veganuary ('Veganuár') has been launched! Also, we've published a post on traditional Hungarian recipes that are accidentally vegan!

Best Countries For Vegans

So here are our winners:

#4. Vegan Germany

Now, people are always surprised when I tell them that Germany is fckng awesome and one of the most vegan friendly countries (according to this study, "Germany was the leading market for vegan food and drink product launch activity in 2016, with 18% of all global food and drink product launches with vegan claims occurring in Germany"). I mean, this is the country that brought us the meat vending machine after all. But this is also the country that's super clued on when it comes to the environment, and also this is (nowadays) the country that when the population stands up and demands something, the government delivers, mostly.

Anyway, Berlin is literally the vegan hub of Europe, with vegan restaurants and movements everywhere. But even in tiny little German towns (where my ex-fiancé comes from), the range of vegan products in the shops is incredible. I'd say that Germany is the best country for vegans in Europe. Ich liebe dich Deutschland, bleib cool. And whilst you're there, why not hop on over to France? World Vegan Travel now offer trips there so everything from food to activities would be taken care for you.

#3. Vegan Malaysia

I was sooooo impressed by Malaysia!! It's right next door to Thailand, but is 12 hundred times better vegan-wise. Firstly, Malaysia is a Muslim country, and fits in nicely with my 'Muslim countries are great for vegan' theory. Secondly, Malaysia has a great mixture of cuisines - from Indian to Chinese. Lots of yummy dishes, often vegan friendly, without even trying.

most vegan friendly countries

Thirdly, with lots of expats, Kuala Lumpur has an abundance of your favourite vegan products from back home. If you're in South East Asia and are looking for something specific (not just vegan food wise, just general wise) from Australia, Canada, the UK, Germany, the USA etc, head to Kuala Lumpur, they've got you. I was so excited I wrote a whole Kuala Lumpur Vegan Guide.

#2. Vegan Indonesia

I'm sure you've heard that Bali is a vegan friendly place. Well, it's true.  Some of the yummiest vegan food I've had in my whole life was in Bali.

best country for vegans

It's not just that it's all super vegan friendly - it's also that it's all really really fresh and delicious and healthy! How often does that all go hand in hand? Indonesia, or at the very least Bali, is the best country for vegans in South East Asia.

Best Country For Vegans

#1. Vegan Israel and Occupied Palestine

Like Berlin, Israel (occupied) Palestine has a reputation for being a super vegan friendly country (5.2% of the population consider themselves vegan). And it's true. In my opinion, Israel-Palestine is the best country for vegans in the world. With hummus and falafels everywhere you look and big brands like Dominos and Ben and Jerry's throwing out vegan options there, it's no surprise that my stomach fell head over heals in love with Palestine-Israel.

best country for vegans

I wrote a quick vegan guide to Israel-Palestine. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Palestine, but everyone also spoke impeccable English.

Wrap Up: Best And Worst Countries For Vegans

So there you have it, my year food wise. I hope this post has been useful to you, I tried not to be too biased, but hey that's nature. Let me know if you have any questions, and let me know your worst and best countries for travelling as a vegan! Update: Since I wrote this blog post, I've travelled to some more countries vegan:

For an alternative list of top vegan countries, we recommend watching this video :) Enjoy!

P.S.: If you're interested in an app designed for vegans & wanna support the vegan movement and us, veganvstravel as well, use this link plz to download Abillionveg. When registering, please use our referral code: TRAVELLINGWEASELS. If you wanna know why we think this is a great app, read here.

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