Friday 4 June 2021

The 12 Most Vegan Friendly, Must Visit Countries for Your Bucket List

top vegan friendly countries
Workers on an Indian tea plantation (probably wage labourers), cheers for the photo, thanks to the creator
We've been rethinking our previous list of best countries for vegans, drawing up plans, deliberating and discussing travel routes that would be best for eco travel (#nomoreflying), considering food cultures most welcoming towards plant-based people like us, and looking at social issues that we could report on as blogger-journalists... so here's a list of vegan-friendly countries we haven't been to yet (or have been to but we were not vegan at the time).

#1. India

As it is well-known, it is super-easy to be vegetarian in India: it has the largest number of vegetarians in the world, about 30% of the total population (according to a 2018 survey), around 500 million people (says a 2020 article). According to the previous source, only one percent of those 500 million Hindus 'are strict vegans, so the total number of vegans in India is approx 5 million'. Not bad, eh?

So hell yeah, India is our no. 1 on this list, it is probably one of the most vegan friendly countries in the world... besides the vegan culture, it is also the traditional yoga practices, the hash and of course, the terrible story of colonialism (#f*ckbritain) that is driving us there: stories to be told, again and again. P.S. if you're not into planning your trip by yourself, Travelbag can help you with that :)

#2. Taiwan

Taiwan is a 'little' island off the coast of China, near Japan and is also on our list of top vegan friendly countries in the world. A friend of mine lives there, actually they're from there, and they've been telling me that a lot of traditional food, esp during festivals, is accidentally vegan! How great is that? Partly because of Taiwanese Buddhism, something we're also interested in.

Also: friendly folks and lots of tofu. Also: a long history of Japanese and Chinese colonisation. Also: the first Asian country to pass a bill (in 2019) that legalises same-sex marriage. How cool is that? And it seems that the vegan restaurant business is booming in Taipei. 

#3. China

When I first went there during my grammar school days, I was vegetarian and I got quarantined, (note: not for being vegetarian, but for suspected swine flu), it was creepy as hell. The second time I went there, much later, I found lots of accidentally vegetarian / vegan dishes. I've always wanted to go back to China to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine, Tai chi and the state capitalist system they have there (nope, mass oppression of ethnic minorities, mass surveillance of civilians, censorship of media and lack of truly democratic institutions have nothing to do with real socialism or communism - don't buy the state propaganda please).

Though the country is known for eating exotic animals and for not being very PC in general, for being basically the no. 1. superpower on the planet, veganism seems to be catching on in major urban areas. If you learn how to say 'without meat' in Chinese, it seems to be unbelievably easy to eat vegan, simply bc eggs are easy to skip, dairy is not on the menu as much as in European cuisine and most other things as plant-based!

#4. Aotearoa (New Zealand)

My colonial, western brain can only think of Lord of the Rings when it comes to NZ which is highly offensive (just like Tolkien's racial slurs when it comes to the geographic moral compass of LotR). I would also wanna say that one of the reasons I wanna go there is that there is no language barrier for us in NZ - also due to British imperialism, whoops. No, we just have to shut the f*ck up and learn about Māori culture and how their lands were confiscated by the Europeans.

Besides having an awesome female prime minister, Aotearoa also has an awesome vegan society webpage, with detailed vegan events, resources and lists of businesses. Also, they grow kiwi there. Also, intersectionality is the rage the apparently. How. Cool. Is. That.

#5. Jamaica

We've recently done some research and wrote about a post with the help of a friend about being vegan in Jamaica. To be frank, it looks and sounds awesome: legal weed, the tradition of Rastafari animal right activism (most Rastas are vegetarians and the rasta ital diet is basically vegan).

A heavy history of Spanish and British colonisation and struggle for independence, it's humbling to go there as a westerner. Also, the fruit and veg are amazing, being raw vegan is possibly really easy here - good quality local produce! Enjoy the ska & reggae :) (also, we plan to cruise - not fly - over to Cuba to check out their state capitalist system).

#6. Mexico

Mexico is one of those few countries where a vegan cookbook has actually been released detailing which dishes of their traditional, regional cuisines are vegan or can easily be veganised. So yeah. Wow. Defo wanna go there. Corn-based tortillas, rice, beans, avocados, cacti (mmm peyote for the more psychedelically-oriented).

Also, if you go there, please do not forget about the US-Mexican border, ICE and such awful things. Zach de la Rocha of rage against the machine did a wonderful interview with Noam Chomsky on American agribusiness taking over Mexican agriculture, using cheap Mexican wage labour (pardon, slavey) - yes, vegans should pay attention to economics and the means of production! Humans are animals too - human and workers' rights activism is a part of animal rights activism, not separate. Go go intersectional veganism, ¡Viva la Revolución!

#7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is on that 'thin' strip of land that joins North America and South America together. It has become a haven for Western white hippies (like us), it is actually the most often frequented country of the Central American region. Having started reversing deforestation in the 1990s, it is one of the main destinations for those interested in ecotourism nowadays - cool, eh?

When it comes to plant-based living, it is similar to Mexico: rice, beans and corn, wonderful vegetables, multiple types of bananas - a vegan heaven, in line with the unofficial national motto: "la pura vida" (meaning the 'pure, clean good life' :) P.S.: we defo wanna check out Gallo Pinto. Also: our current goal is to take the boat from Portugal to Brazil (no flying anymore, only overland or overseas for us), then maybe head down south to Urugay (weed is legal there), then back up to Costa Rica. And learn Portuguese (dear Spinoza's native tongue) and Spanish.

#8. South Africa

We've recently published a post about being vegan in Johannesburg with the help of a friend. When it comes to this country, veganism is not the first thing that pops into our mind... apartheid, Nelson Mandela and the question: what are white people doing in a country that is way too sunny and hot for their pigmentation? Liberation to the natives!

Many native Alkebulans (which is the native name for Africa, meaning something like the 'mother of humankind' or 'garden of eden') fighting post-colonialism are actually consciously returning to a plant-based diet: meat- and dairy heavy food are European imports. Johannesburg has several vegan restaurants, veganism has been growing for the last 3-4 years as the wonderful websites of the South African Vegan Society and the Vegan South Africa Directory show.

#9. Ethiopia

I partly chose this country because my cousins live there, partly because I would love to see wild gorillas (hard to do it ethically, though) and also because Ethiopia seems to be an up and coming vegan paradise! Much of traditional Ethiopian cuisine is accidentally vegan, consisting of vegetables, fruit and legumes - interestingly, this is due to religious reasons: the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded around 400 AD (!!!)

Today almost half of the country is Orthodox... and the same way many foods during the Lent fasting period are vegan in Serbia, much of it is vegan here, too :) Yay! Misir Wot, Atir Kik Alicha, Shiro Wot, Injera, we're coming for you... I wanna try all of these dishes :)

#10. Denmark

When I was in Denmark last time, there were several vegan options on the hotel menu (plant-based milks), which is pretty inclusive and progressive, I was impressed. Now the country as a whole seems to be nest of carnists but Copenhagen has a bourgeoning vegan scene (pun intended - mostly very bougie vegan restaurants).

Sure, prices are high - most Nordic countries are expensive. But they're so progressive that they are the first country in the world to have an actual 'quit meat hotline' - you know, they kind of hotlines they have for nicotine addicts, alcoholics, etc. Amazing, eh? P.S.: Weed hasn't been legal in the Freetown Christiania district since 2004 but hey we wouldn't be able to resist smoking a spliff in this legendary place.

#11. Netherlands

Okay, so we have house sat in the Netherlands, we have attended a traditional Indian wedding there, have travelled to Amsterdam for two days, took magic truffles and smoked hash at a public park (then freaked the f*ck out), so we've had our share of experiences in this country. (Note: all of the above happened at different times, not on subsequent days... that would've been a nightmare). And yes, the Netherlands is still very much a country of dairy (chocolate & cheese). What is driving us there is that simple fact (one that people often overlook) that this little country is the no. 1. fruit & veg importer in Europe, due to their amazing greenhouse technologies - which makes it a good place for vegans.

Okay, we gotta add this: the Netherlands was the world's first country to switch to a capitalist mode of production and colonized the sh*t out of the East Indies (and many other parts of the world) and their wealth is mostly due to their racist past, is based on looting and slave trade... go there, remind them of it. We once met a young, blonde haired Dutch 20-something at a bus stop in Amsterdam, asked him what would be the only thing he'd change about his country and his answer was: 'the weather'. Our answer would be: 'how 'bout the ignorance?' And maybe that national pride (yikes). Nevertheless: check out all bikes (#letsbancars)

#12. Turkey

Turkey is not usually on typical 'most vegan friendly countries' lists but a.) I wanna go back there bc of personal reasons (I've been there once when I was 12 and had some emotionally heavy experiences... another story for another blogpost) and b.) I wanna go there and see what fascist Erdogan did to that country (and how they are still repressing information about the Armenian genocide... my Hungarian bf Tamás once met a Turkish researcher working in a Budapest who told him how they cannot even call it a 'genocide' or 'ethnic cleansing' bc of state censorship)

c.) we wanna work against islamophobia in the West by reporting our travel experiences in that country (especially my experiences as a female traveller... islamic feminism is on the rise, ppl!) and last but perhaps most importantly, d.) many of their traditional dishes are actually vegan: lots of legumes and other veggies, mostly olive oil instead of animal fat (unlike lard-loving Hungary). Plant-based street food might include: baklava (watch out for honey and your insuline levels though); cig köfte, simit, meze, and dolma (stuffed grape leaves yummm).

Wrap Up: Vegan-Friendly Countries For Your Bucket List 

I have already written a blogpost about the least and the most vegan-friendly countries that I've been to... this post serves as a complementary piece to that one. Last but not least, I would like to stress that it is not our goal to just visit these places but to live there, to get to know the locals, to immerse and to help out activists (#intersectionalityrules). We're not into not fast-food tourism anymore - more into slow food & the slow movement in general! Eat local, people. Also, for another perspective, another bucket list of top vegan countries, you can watch this video, maybe it will give you some ideas :) 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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