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The Best Food Cities in the World for Vegans and Vegetarians

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A vegetarian friend recently attended a work conference in Edinburgh. “How was the food?” I asked when she returned. She paused. “I ate a lot of potatoes,” she said.

Scotland does have many excellent veg-centered restaurants. But, when a nation’s signature dishes are haggis, black pudding and the bacon butty, it’s just not a food destination for the meatless. It is possible, however, to plan a vegetarian foodie vacation that’s not 75 percent potato. Here are five cities to try.

1. Portland, Oregon 

If you love fine dining and you don’t love meat, your perfect destination is Portland. This city consistently tops lists of the best food cities for vegetarians, with inventive, modern takes on meatless eating. One shining star is Homegrown Smoker, which serves vegan soul food: tempeh “ribs,” smoked “chikn,” grit sticks and buffalo “thwings.” Another is Farm Spirit, which serves a vegetable-centered tasting menu at a communal counter, celebrating the flavors of the Cascades. Basically, in Portland you can find any cuisine made vegan: Andean, Israeli, Japanese, Thai, Mexican….  It’s like a world food tour in one city.

2. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is, quite simply, “heaven for vegans,” Vegan Food Quest writes.i Around 13 percent of Taiwan’s predominantly Buddhist population is vegetarian, and as a result, the capital is packed with veggie-focused restaurants.ii One standout is Ooh Cha Cha, which serves vegan bowls, burgers and sandwiches. It’s most famous for its raw desserts, which are made with a cashew base on an oat-nut crust and are sweetened with maple syrup and dates. Try the banana swirl, strawberry lemonade or mocha fudge cakes.

You’ll also find a lot to love at Taipei’s night markets, where locals congregate to snack into the wee hours. Try the radish buns, roasted mushrooms, rice balls (without pork), run bing (a Taiwanese burrito), and a vegan version of the famous stinky tofu.iii 

3. Bangkok, Thailand

The best time for vegans and vegetarians to try this city’s famed street food is during the annual

Bangkok Vegetarian Festival, Tesagan Gin Jay, in October. For nine days, many Thai (particularly those of Chinese descent), purify themselves by wearing white, practicing mindfulness, and abstaining from meat and alcohol. As a result, many of the restaurants and food stalls in Bangkok’s Chinatown eliminate all animal products from their menu, making this a perfect time to try vegan dumplings, noodles, and spring rolls.iv

Vegan desserts abound. Nam kaeng sai consists of various fruits and other toppings covered with crushed ice and soaked in sweet syrup and fragrant coconut milk. Popular toppings include jackfruit, candied cassava, candied taro, water chestnuts, coconut jelly, and sweet corn. Overwhelmed? Just say “ruam mit” and the vendor will serve a handpicked combo.v

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Ethiopian capital is becoming a tourism hotspot, not only for its deep history but also for its food. For religious reasons, most Ethiopians refrain from eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as during Lent. As a result, vegan and vegetarian dishes are plentiful — and did we mention delicious? Meals are traditionally served on top of injera, a spongy flatbread made from teff. Utensils aren’t used; instead, you tear off pieces of injera and pick up your food with that. Bayenetu is an assortment of vegetarian dishes, including a puree of split peas, stewed kale and spicy lentils. Shiro wat is a stew made with chickpea flour, tomato and

Berlin, Germany

Who knew that the city known for wurst and schnitzel is also one of the world’s best vegan food destinations? Take a vegan food tour of Berlin and taste dumplings, falafel, cakes and even vegan beer. (Wait, isn’t all beer vegan? Nope: the finings used to clarify the brew may include animal products.vii) Favorite spots include Brammibal’s Donuts, which crafts luscious rings in unusual flavors, and Chaostheorie, a cocktail bar that serves a vegan take on currywurst. Visit Berlin in late August for Veganes Sommerfest, Europe’s largest vegan festival.

Palitana, India

Palitana, a town in Gujarat, India, is a holy pilgrimage site for Jains, members of an ancient Indian religion that forbids violence against all living things — even insects. In 2014, Palitana became the world’s first city where vegetarianism is mandated: It’s illegal to buy or sell meat, fish and eggs.viii Jains also refrain from eating potatoes, onions, garlic or other root vegetables.ix One signature dish is the local variant on bhelpuri, a snack made from puffed rice, vegetables and tamarind sauce.

This alone may put Palitana on your list of vegan travel destinations, but the food isn’t the only reason to go! The city is known for its nearly 900 exquisitely beautiful, elaborately carved mountainside temples, some of which date to the 11th century. Tourists may ascend the sacred hill to visit the temples, either on foot in a sling chair, as long as they’re respectful of Jain traditions.

When your taste buds lead you far from home, it’s important to protect your trip with travel insurance. Allianz Global Assistance offers plans for every destination and every budget. Compare plans and find the right fit for your next trip

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