Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Top 10 Best Countries to be Vegetarian


Vegetarians will have a hard time traveling to certain countries, as meat is in the culture and can be included in everything. However, certain countries have large vegetarian populations and customs.

10. Canada:

There is a large vegetarian culture in Canada, especially in big cities. Because Toronto is the most diverse city in the world, you can enjoy delicious vegetarian cuisine from so many different cultures; visit the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

9. Israel:

Because Israeli restaurants and supermarkets will often abide by Kosher laws, pork and shellfish are not served, and prepared food usually will not combine milk and meat. Falafel and hummus are available everywhere, and cucumbers and hummus are served with every meal.

8. Hong Kong:

Inspired by British culture, Hong Kong has many vegetarian options, that are not only Chinese food, but often Indian or Western inspired. There are also several health food stores.

7. United States:

Especially around big cities like New York, San Francisco or Chicago, the US has many vegetarians. It is more difficult to eat out in the South, but supermarkets will have an abundance of options.

6. Thailand:

Vegetarianism is accepted in Thailand, and many traditional Thai dishes with rice and noodles are meat-free and loaded with a wide range of fresh veggies. Many vegetable dishes are made with fish sauce, but you can request to have it excluded. There is even a Phuket Vegetarian Festival!

5. Taiwan:

Taiwan does offer vegetarian options, but it is difficult to navigate your options without knowing the language. Click here for some helpful hints.

4. United Kingdom:

This is one of the most advanced vegetarian cultures in the world, with veggie-friendly food available in almost every town. Most restaurants have vegetarian options, and vegetarian food in supermarkets is often clearly labeled. The UK isn’t exactly known for its amazing native food, so there are often great vegetarian Indian dishes available in restaurants. Pubs often serve veggie burgers.

3. Vietnam:

Though many of the vegetable dishes are made with fish sauce, there are ways around it. Read this article for some tips. Their delicious Pho noodle dishes taste just as great without meat.

2. Malaysia:

There is a vegetarian culture in Malaysia, and their food is inspired by Chinese, Indian and European influence. There are many delicious vegetarian curry and noodle dishes, and it is not difficult to find suitable restaurants.

1. India:

India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, making up 20-40% of the population. Food in supermarkets has special labels for the vegetarian selections, and almost all restaurants offer the option.


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61 thoughts on “Top 10 Best Countries to be Vegetarian

  1. Mmm, I love Indian food! Although chicken tikka masala is one of my favorites, and that’s not veggie. (I’m no longer a vegetarian, but when I was, chicken tm was the only meat dish that I still craved.)

    I have to give a nod to [certain parts of] Latin America — not many people are vegetarian, but the culture is very flexitarian. In Costa Rica, meat is often used sparsely, as a complimentary dish rather than the main itself. Not everyone or everywhere is like that, of course, but in many homes, that’s the way it goes. Restaurants are easy, since every one has salads, eggs (as meat replacement) and copious amounts of DELICIOUS rice & beans, including bean burritos, puréed beans w/fresh tortillas & sour cream, and other scrumptiousness.

  2. I would have to completely disagree with your statements about the United Kingdom. In Scotland, Ireland, and Wales they often have no concept of what vegetarian means. As a vegetarian who lived and traveled around the area for months, I was rarely given anything but a menu for seafood when I asked for any vegetarian options. London, Dublin, and other very large cities, with strong diversity and tourism, will provide vegetarian meals and restaurants, like most big cities. However, outside of these cities, you will rarely find any restaurants who support vegetarians.

  3. Well, I’m sorry to disagree Olivia, but I don’t eat in London or Dublin as I never go to either city and have no problem finding veggie food. I was in a small west country pub last Saturday and they had 5 veggie options, one of which was vegan and a veggie option on the specials board. This was good but not uncommon.

  4. Glasgow seems to have more vegan places that most UK cities, somewhat at odds with the native food culture. I don’t think I’ve eaten out anywhere where there haven’t been veggie options.

  5. I am non veg but I just love veg food. Its healthy to eat more vegetables. I love both fried and boiled vegetables. My country India has the best variety of vegetarian food.

  6. @steww: Maybe there’s a lot of vegetarian options in the UK. But that doesn’t mean it “has a large vegetarian population and customs”. As is said in the title. Holland (where I come from) also has one vegetarian dish on the menu of every restaurant. Most of the time the dishes are quite boring (salads or quiches). Though there are exceptions. Anyone know of a veggie restaurant guide of the world? Would be great 😉

  7. Although it is hard to find veggie options outside large cities anywhere in the world in the south it is false to say that it is not veggie friendly. I live in Austin Texas and there is a huge veggie community. There are several awesome vegetarian restaurants with no meat options on the menu.

  8. i used to live in vietnam and it’s a NIGHTMARE for a vegetarian!! such a big meat culture – totally different from thailand! it was fine when cooking for yourself but impossible when eating out – requesting ‘com chay’ usually just got you the meat fished out of the dish (thanks!). went on a 3 day boat trip at one stage, and had contacted the company (one of the bigger ones) about 4 times telling them i was vegetarian, and making sure there would be meat free meals available. they provided fish “yes! no meat!”

  9. Hi I am surprise to see America in seventh place and Canada in tenth, the perception is the opposite, even though I’ve not been to Canada. On my past visits to America I’ve always had difficulty getting a vegetarian meal ,as oppose to a Menu meal less the meat
    or other bits that accompanies the non-vegetarian dish.
    I suppose things have changed in recent times which reflects the
    position of America in this survey it’s a good thing I must say.

  10. Malaysia had fantastic vegetarian food – I totally fell in love with roti channai. And I’d also recommend Italy. But I’d have to disagree about VietNam. My daughter and I went to Hanoi last year and had the hardest time eating well. We were in a hotel, so buying food at the markets and cooking it ourselves was out of the question. As for market snacks, we were living on bread and oreos! Getting vegetables without meat was very difficult. I’m sure if you had a Vietnamese speaking guide life would be lots easier. We did find one fantastic Indian restaurant and one vege restaurant, and basically lived there, but not easily being able to eat like the locals put a real dent in the budget 🙂

  11. I have some serious problems with this list, too. India is definitely correct but what about Nepal? Nepal has a huge number of vegetarians living in the country. Italy should absolutely be on this list (probably as number 2 or 3). Every restaurant in every city has great vegetarian options. I found that some (but not all) Irish restaurants had vegetarian options; but it was no better or worse than what I have found in the United States.
    I haven’t been to Vietnam but in nearly every Vietnamese restaurant in the United States, I can barely find vegetarian options. Also, fish sauce is a staple ingredient in Thai food — especially in pre-made curries, so asking for food without fish sauce may not work.

  12. This is all nice, warm, and fuzzy and animal-saving. I love my dog and wont eat him, but cows taste good so I’m going to give them a bite.

    What I really want to know is what the best countries for meat eaters are? I have heard Argentina is good, but what others?

  13. you are correct smart ass hong kong IS NOT a country. it’s a planet on the far side of the nebakular star system

  14. Nice site. Now all we need is as much respect for organic consumers as vegetarians give to themselves and for more retailers, countries and governments to support this. Although it may be very part of some European countries governments to fund such research and give grants in the form of subsidies to farmers that grow organics they still support biotech far more and this is when there have been far greater advances in wild strains of plants that are climatised for flood resistannce, drought resistance, and also strains that are safe for allergy sufferers. Still, instead of using these strains as they naturally are, biotech companies genetically modify them in their research. I suggest everyone to do their own independent research on this as I have been doing for the past 15 years. There is a lot of disinfo and propaganda out there and I have read industry and government internal documents that outline their strategies for marketing their products in detail. It’s a great shame so many people still believe their lies that is supported by most media outlets. Some of you may have read in the media (such as media controlled by Rupert Murdoch) that smears organics as being no good or better than mass produced chemically sprayed foods or biotech foods. In the article that reported some studies the FSA did, well the facts are opposite and several years before this a US$24,000,000 scientific study was done that found organic foods contained 60% more antioxidants and more nutritional than non organic, but the report in the media that hit outlers in the USA and Europe this week says the opposite which is completely false and contrary to independent scientific research that IS NOT funded by the biotech industry but is part of some government studies across the world as part of University research. All I can do do is suggest all to be very sceptical until you have done as much independent research on these things as I have, I really do have no agenda, I don’t want you to eat organic food just because I do. I just would like people to be more informed that is all. I have nothing to sell to anyone, unlike the media and biotech industry that depend on the debt of farmers and govervnments.

  15. Every country, Kristoph, will have food that meat-eaters can eat, especially since you can eat vegetarian food as well. The idea, I believe, is to provide an outline for those with more limited diets. On that note, I suggest the majority of all countries in Europe, Australia, Asia, the Americas and Africa. Maybe skip out on Antarctica unless you’re peckish for roast penguin with a side of leopard seal.

  16. Hi ,I love Cube and would like to go back there before
    the changes which are inevitable, however, from my
    experience the Cuisine does not cater for Vegetarians,
    there must have been a dramatic culture change in
    the hospitality industry since I last went to Cuba, if
    that’s the case well done Cuba. I shall be back.

  17. @Olivia Sorry but you are talking absolute bollocks! Even down in Devon (SW England) out in the sticks there is deversity and enough vegetarian options in almost every pub and restaurant. Maybe you weren’t looking hard enough – get off the tourist trail and actually engage with people and you will find that there is more going on than you would expect!

  18. Don’t forget Japan! They have a lot of hidden fish ingredients, true, but you can have very fresh tofu in Japan, their rice is cooked with water, so it’s safe, and monk cuisine, Shojin Ryori, is very highly regarded, served in restaurants, and is completely vegetarian.

  19. It would actually be very helpful to have an article on the WORST countries to find vegetarian food, so you can prepare yourself for the fact that sometimes it simply won’t be available, or you will struggle, even if you speak the language. I was vegetarian for many yeras, vegan for some of those, but sometimes ate meat when travelling so as not to starve in countries that simply had no concept of meat-free … It’s good to be forewarned of this, though.

  20. I’d have to disagree with Miranda. I lived in rural Japan for two years, and found it to be VERY vegetarian un-friendly. Shojin Ryori isn’t very common – I had it once at a temple in Kyoto but that was it. Almost all common Japanese dishes have fish or pork in them, or are cooked in animal fat, and the concept of vegetarianism isn’t well-understood. As with most countries you fare better in big cities than small towns, but it’s still pretty tough to get variety. Even the fresh tofu mentioned is usually served with fish flakes on it, and meaty garnishes like bits of bacon often aren’t mentioned in menus.

    If you’re vegetarian and do go to Japan, and especially if you don’t speak Japanese, print out a card in Japanese in advance that says what you don’t eat so you can hand it to restaurant staff. If you do speak Japanese, make sure to list to your server each thing that you won’t eat. And mention pork, ham, and bacon separately. Trust me, I learned that the hard way…

  21. No Korea???? Koreans eat a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables than any other country in the world!

    Thumbs down.

  22. India : 50 % of the popukation of 1 billion people ie a hugggge number and should inspire many others to go veg

  23. My family and I went to Vietnam in March of this year and the food was beyond great!!! I think I gained 10 pounds during the 2 weeks we were there. I wish I could eat Vietnamese food ALL the time!

  24. I’m pretty confident that Taiwan should be at the top of the list. Being vegetarian is pretty popular there. There is a language barrier, but only for folks who dont speak chinese. But I know that you can be pretty much anywhere in the country and get a vegan meal…

  25. Hong Kong is an autonomous/self-governing Chinese territory. With that out of the way, thanks for the list! Even if people disagree on where it’s easiest to be a vegetarian, I am sure we’d all agree that it’s great to have a place where we can debate it! On that note, I wanted to bring Africa, specifically Ghana, into this conversation, not because it belongs on the list, but because I thought my experience might be helpful. Once people understood, I was able to get by very well because beans, ground nuts (peanuts) and eggs are staples, and tomatoes, peppers, yams, and greens were very common. Rice, pasta and bread are everywhere. Plus, the markets are full of excellent fresh fruits! Of course there is the potential issue in restaurants of fish or meat being cooked with a dish and then taken out, or used in a broth, but if you’re prepared you can *usually* avoid that if you tell them. Just FYI, hope that helps someone!

  26. The United Kingdom? I was a vegetarian once, and every time I went out to a resturant, there was nothing vegetarian. English people love meat. Honestly. Why do you think every traditional english meal contains meat? Sunday Roast, for example. Pork pies, sausage rolls etc.

  27. It is good to be a vegetarian for many different reasons. As a vegetarian you need to know the basic types of vegetables and fruits your body needs. Furthermore, if you no longer eat meat it is necessary to supplement your food with vitamin B 12,preferably the sublingual tablets.If possible use only certified organic fruits and vegetables. There is a difference in price, of course, but also a distinct difference in the flavor. Enjoy.

  28. I have been living in London for a year and though ‘vegetarian’ food is available, it does not mean that the variety is great. The Western concept of vegetarian food is absence of meat/chicken, not presence of vegetables. Often, the vegetrain options I have had to choose is macaroni and cheese, served with chips. My friends who would choose a meat or chicken dish would be served vegetables, while I would get chips. And I don’t even want to get started on fish and eggs, both of which are considered vegetarian by many. My vegetarian experience has not been very good, I’m afraid.

  29. Charlotte, I can tell you one of the worst countries to be a veggie/vegan… my own, Spain!! I lived in England for many years, and I can assure anyone who slags off England as a veggie-unfriendly country that there’s nothing like moving from the UK to a real veggie-unfriendly country like Spain… For God’s sake, once I was out shopping and at one point I was starving, so I went into a big baker’s and asked, first for something veggie, then when I saw the puzzled look of the girl behind the counter, I asked for something that had no meat, no chicken, no fish, no egg and no dairy (and yes, I do know that chicken and fish are also meat, but some people don’t seem to understand that, so in many places you have to be VERY specific and list everything you don’t want)… well, I won’t make you guess what the girl suggested I could have after all that explaining: a blood-sausage pasty!!!!! Then, with some of the Brits who have made Spain their home asking for “veggie” dishes but explain they can eat fish, you can imagine how the ignorant here are becoming more ignorant after this ridiculous idea is being gradually introduced by these silly Brits!!!! The fool teaching the fool, and in the meantime, the real veggies and vegans have to suffer more! Sigh…

  30. china and japan should definitely be on the list…especially if the u.s. holds down #7.

  31. I see India is listed as nr 1, but though I’ve never been there (yet) I’ve heard they use a lot of dairy products in their cooking and that should make it tricky for vegans to find proper food.

    Anyone who has any personal experiences?

  32. It can be difficult being a vegetarian in Indonesia, especially if meals are catered for at, say, a meeting or seminar. This is because meat is a ‘status symbol’ in that there are millions barely surviving on rice, or cassava, and chilli – perhaps with a few plucked ‘greens’.

    For good protein intake, check out tempeh (pron. tempay) the fermented soya bean ‘cake’ which can be cooked in umpteen ways, as can tahu (pron. ta-hoo), which is the local version of tofu.

    I’ve included this site – http://www.happycow.net/asia/indonesia/index.html – in my blog, Jakartass, although I’ve never frequented any of the restaurants mentioned!

    However, being able to say “ma’af, saya tidak makan daging” (sorry, I don’t eat meat) and specifying “tidak pakai daging”(without meat) when ordering should be sufficient, although stray bakso (meatballs) do occasionally appear.

    Jakarta has some very good Indian and Chinese restaurants, but, as elsewhere, beware the lashings of MSG, known locally by the trade name Aji No Moto, in the latter.

    I spent six months in India, admittedly over 20 years ago. I generally ate in Vegetarian restaurants, as opposed to the Non-Vegetarian restaurants where I got eggs.

  33. I have not visited all of the countries in your list but I have to say the the UK is not very veggie-friendly (unless you go to an Indian restaurant). Many restaurants and pubs will only have one or two options.

  34. I think it’s all relative to where you have been in the world (and what particularly bad memories we retain after a bad experience!) I feel your pain!
    Vegetarians who say England is good for vegetarians must surely be those who like eating cheese, pasta, and chips. Or boring veggie burgers made from potato instead of soy.
    I thought that in England, the greens were scant and the vegies were bland and overcooked, or they were served with pasta drowned in cheese or sauces derived from it. Where is the freshness, the garlic, the ginger, and the soysoysoy?
    The British are also among the worst for adulterating the traditional cuisines of other countries (including Indian), to make them more palatable to the British tongue.
    Some countries simply cook better than others, and I am afraid to say England isn’t known for it’s great cuisine.
    At least they understand the concept though!
    Chin up though my fellow veggie’s, it can always be worse. I am travelling south america at the moment. Need I say more?!
    It’s always hard being part of a minority, but if we persevere, we will keep growing in numbers, and then it will be the rest of the world who have to supply OUR demand and cater for us and OUR ways, instead of the other way around 🙂

  35. I am a proud vegetarian, Indian. I sadly agree with Paul regarding dairy products in India. India literally worships cow, milk and milk products. Indians believe that cows generously produce milk for humans rather than just to the calf! The vegan concept of no dairy products is yet to seep deep. However, when you explain, there is real concern. You can get really true vegan food!

  36. That’s good news for vegans in India 🙂 Thank you so much for that information ksbalaji! Still I do hope veganism will become more common in India.

  37. Hong Kong would like to be an independent country. My best friend is from H.K. So it is not offically a country, but most of its people consider it to be.

  38. I live in Ecuador and it is a wonderful country. Its people are so nice and kind, they will give you the most warming welcome. I have put together a helpful fact sheet, and also an article on Ecuadorian manners and customs.

  39. Nice article! I’m an Indian who live in Indonesia, and kinda disagree with what Jakartass said above. There are plenty of vegetarian meals out here, in restaurants (Buddhist Restaurants are yummy! or Indians of course). But, even the local food doesn’t contain that much meat, you can eat soup, potato, soy tofu (tahu and tempe), green vegetables, etc. I was surprised to see that there are increase of vegetarian menu in cafe or restaurants I visit recently. But again, the best place for Vegetarians is India; yummy foods every where.

  40. I am in Indian and currently living in UK. I should agree that there is vegetarian food available in all big cities and small towns. However I should say that the vegetarian options in the small towns are limited to either jacket potato, chips, burgers and pasta. However in big cities where there are multi-cultural people living, you would definitely find a variety of vegetarian options. And of course, probably nothing to beat the vegetarian options in India, after all there are almost equal number of vegetarians and non-vegetarians 🙂

  41. everyone should know that india is the real home to vegetarians and vegans and everywhere you go you get vegetarian food.most of the hotels serve vegetarian food exclusively and it is clearly indicated on the name plate of the hotel.most nonveg hotels dont mix veg with nonveg. so any vegetarian coming to india will find extremely easy to figure what they are eating.

  42. most countries are going towards veg……but india is going towards nonveg….think over it….avoid eating in nonveg hotels,restaurants…..

  43. Israel is also pretty awesome for vegetarians and vegans because we’ve got some of the best organic fruit and vegetables grown here.

  44. As Israel indian food does not consist organic food and vegetables in main couse they are served raw in desserts . In r india the vegetarian foods are cooked,they aren’t just crushed and mixed

    India is best for vegetarians but worst for non-veg people as we tease non- veges (mass machi khane wale)

  45. Sure India is great for vegetarians. However for those who are vegan be warned that dairy products are everywhere! Food is often cooked in clarified butter, most people do not know the difference between vegan and vegetarian and even the strictest vegetarian will consume milk like water! Lactose intolerance does not exist there so there is a dearth of soy derivatives.

  46. You forgot Australia! Any city in Australia has lots of Asian inspired vegetarian food. It’s become standard for the supermarkets to stock a range of tofu, alternative milks and other vegetarian or vegan products like TVP and vege burgers. Restaurants always have at least one vegetarian option and it’s becoming so much more common to see an entire vegetarian section in the menu.

  47. INDIA is Most SACRED for Vegetarians & the only reliable Veg food you can get in any part if the world is in ISKCON Temples, other places you have to be cautious. If you compare Non veg to veg in animals also Elephant, Rhino have more strength & better built than lion or Tiger which also lack in stamina like a bull or horse which can walk/run for hours. Even camel has so much stamina no non veg animal can match. Go for veg & avoid being a sinner.

  48. I am a Canadian/Australian vegetarian living in Australia, and on my last visit to Canada with family I found it incredibly difficult to find a good meal out! Luckily I eat fish (pescetarian really but no one really knows what that means) so I could find some fish dishes, but I usually ended up eating side dishes or bruscetta from the entree menu! This was in Calgary and Banff!! I didn’t have much luck! I’m surprised that Australia didn’t make the list because you would be doing a good job to finding a restaurant without Veg options, usually its only the steakhouses and even then they have salad options! Its quite a large trend being vegetarian over here, especially in uni students.

  49. Especially Melbourne, Australia- such an enormous vegetarian following. We have districts full of vegie cafe’s and restaurants!

  50. I fully agree with Barry. One can go any part of the world and will find Vegetarian food in ISKCON Temples.

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