A tale of “eat and tell”
Eating is a major part of traveling.
However, for vegetarian and vegan travelers, tasting the local delicacies is often challenging. But as the world turns to plant-based diets, it is becoming easier for veggie folks to include food in their experience of a new destination.
I have been a vegetarian for six years and traveled to 20+ European countries since then. This is the list of the places where I had the best eating experiences.
1. Berlin, Germany
With more than 600 veggie restaurants, Berlin is the vegan capital of Europe, hands down.
It offers everything you could ask for: from vegan fast food joints, to homemade vegan bites of love, to vegan sushi, to plant-based haute-cuisine.
While most of the places on this list are excellent vegetarian destinations, Berlin goes a step further and is vegan heaven. The vegan culture is very strong, not only from the food perspective but in a holistic way too.
Don’t miss this restaurant: Feel Seoul Good.
2. London, England
Let’s be honest, British food has a bad reputation. But not when it comes to veggie cuisine.
When I lived in the UK, I used to complain about everything — the weather, the commute, the prices — but never, ever did I complain about the food. The truth is, for a vegetarian, there is no reason at all to complain.
The whole country is veggie-friendly. You can go to a pub in the middle of nowhere and rest assured that you will find, at least, one veggie option on the menu.
And when you get to the capital… oh well, that’s when your taste buds feel like they’re in a neverending party. You find all kinds of vegetarian and vegan delicacies, from fast food to gourmet adventures.
Don’t miss this restaurant: The Gate.
3. Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgian cuisine is one of the best in the world. If you like bread and cheese, that is. Most of their specialties are based on these two ingredients and Georgians combine them in a multitude of ways. The national dish, Khachapuri, is basically bread filled with cheese, but way more delicious than it sounds.
I visited Georgia with my partner at the time, who had always refused to “pay for vegetables in a restaurant”. But in this Caucasus land, we managed to share a vegetarian meal out for the first time, leaving both our tummies and souls very happy.
Tbilisi is where you find the most restaurants, but you will have no problem eating anywhere in the country, providing you eat dairy.
Don’t miss this restaurant: Machakhela.
Italian cuisine is famous worldwide. What many people fail to realize is that it includes some of the most veggie-friendly dishes you can find. The replacements are very easy and most restaurants will remove from the dish whatever you don’t want to eat.
Pizza? Can be veggie. Pasta? Can be veggie. Gelato? Can be vegan!
I did a road-trip in Italy at the very early stages of my vegetarian journey. While I still ate meat and fish at the time, I managed to go for 15 days barely touching any non-veggie food.
Don’t miss this restaurant: Every restaurant, you can’t go wrong.
5. Lisbon, Portugal
Being Portuguese, I have proudly observed my country becoming a more veggie-friendly destination. I live abroad since 2015, which is also when I started a vegetarian diet. Every time I go back to Portugal, I am in awe of the amount of new vegetarian restaurants that pop up everywhere in the capital.
That being said, it is still not the best country to be vegetarian if you are outside of Lisbon or Porto. But it is certainly on its way, at a fast speed!
All over Lisbon, the veggie buffets are very common, and they are a fantastic way to taste plenty of different dishes at affordable prices. The restaurant below is not the cheapest but it’s one of the best places I ever ate at in my whole life!
Don’t miss this restaurant: Terra.
6. Warsaw, Poland
The Polish capital has consistently ranked on Happy Cow’s top vegan cities in the world list. Mind that we said in the world, not only in Europe.
The number of vegetarian restaurants is high and counting, making it very easy to find places to eat in the city. And the food is yummy!
Traditional Polish food is also somewhat veggie-friendly, with specialties like pierogi and beetroot soup available everywhere, for your eating pleasure.
Don’t miss this restaurant: Vege Miasto.
7. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Mostar makes the list for different reasons than the other cities. Bosnia & Herzegovina is not a veggie-friendly destination. This southern European nation is strong on meat-heavy dishes, making it a hard place for vegetarians.
But when I arrived at Mostar, I was very surprised to see that every restaurant had, at least, one vegetarian option on their menus, or even several.
The explanation is simple: Mostar gets thousands of tourists every day and the local businesses adapted to the visitors’ needs. This turned out very well in favor of the veggie travels who visit the city. They get a veggie version of the traditionally very well served and delicious Bosnian cuisine.
Don’t miss this restaurant: Tima Irma.
Five years ago, I walked into a restaurant in Portugal and asked if there was anything veggie on the menu.
“Rice”, replied the waiter, laughing.
These days, this conversation would probably not take place. Change is happening at an incredible speed in the veggie world. This list, written in early 2021, might be outdated in a couple of years, or even months.
But if it is, it can only mean something good: that more and more cities are paying attention to us, veggie travelers.