Going meat-free has never been more popular, or tastier. That’s why we’ve rooted out the destinations where plants are the stars of the menu. Whether you’re vegan, veggie, or just a curious carnivore, plan your next foodie trip to one of these plant-based culinary hotspots.
1. Tel Aviv – fly from £107
Israel has the largest number of vegans per capita in the world, and locals have dubbed Tel Aviv the vegan capital of the world. Sounds like a bold statement, but its 400 veggie and vegan restaurants back up that claim. The huge vegan population comes as no surprise from a country that values fresh, farm-to-table produce, as well as being the home of some of the best-loved plant-based staples around the world. Yes, we’re talking about everyone’s favourite chickpea spin-offs: hummus and falafel. Israeli street food is particularly veggie friendly. Beyond a classic falafel wrap, try sambusak, egg-free pastry triangles filled with spiced chickpeas, or sabich a hearty pita sandwich crammed with aubergine, hummus, tahini, salad and potatoes, egg optional. Here’s our pick of the best veggie and vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv.
Location: Ahad Ha’Am St 6, Tel Aviv-Yafo
This leading veggie restaurant in the Neve Tzedek neighbourhood focuses on organic, farm-fresh produce. This peaceful spot is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can choose to sit inside or out on the patio or garden terrace for a meal in the sun. The menu changes seasonally and includes dishes like spicy pumpkin steak, cashew cheese lasagna, and seared tofu with coconut curry and black rice noodles.
Location: 17 Gordon Street, Tel Aviv
Described as a little café with big ideas, this local’s favourite is tucked away down a side street, just a stone’s throw from Gordon Beach. The menu’s not strictly veggie (you’ll find salmon options) but has plenty of dishes to leave both veggies and vegans spoiled for choice. They don’t take reservations, so you might have to queue (but don’t worry, it’s worth the wait).
Location: Levontin Street 7, Tel Aviv
Grab a slice of the action at this cool, laidback pizzeria offering some of the tastiest pizzas in the city. When it opened in 2014, The Green Cat was the first joint in Tel Aviv to offer fully-vegan pizzas made with cashew cheese and vegan mozzarella. Everyone agrees the flavours can’t be topped, and all without a slice of pepperoni in sight.
2. Los Angeles – fly from £234
Classic USA food might conjure images of meaty steaks, burgers and hot dogs, but that’s definitely not the case in LA, where the focus is on eco-conscious, healthy food. To serve the super-fit and beautiful plant-eating residents of the city, there’s more than 200 vegan and vegetarian restaurants to suit every budget and occasion, from fast food to five-star dining. Animal rights charity, Peta, even named LA the most vegan-friendly city in the US last year. Forget America’s City of Angels, welcome to the City of Vegans. Here are our favourite restaurants for herbivores on the hunt for food:
Location: 8905 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
Hollywood is famous for its walk of fame, giant letters and now, beautifully decorated restaurants with Mexican-inspired menus. Enter Gracias Madre. It doesn’t have its name in a star yet, but it does have a menu with a stellar line-up, including butternut squash quesadillas, barbecue jackfruit tacos and a black-bean burger. Grab a seat in the courtyard for chic vegan dining with a view.
7751 1/2 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard
6600 Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Perfect for a quick grab-and-go bite, this 100% vegan falafel bar chain has multiple locations around LA. Get your falafel in a sandwich, a salad, a pita plate or a burger, and choose from original, sweet potato, kale, spicy or crunchy varieties. Who knew you could do so much with the humble chickpea?
5107 York Blvd, Los Angeles
543 S Broadway, Los Angeles
Wherever you have your main course, save space for dessert at Donut Friend. It has everything you could ask for from a donut, and then some. If you don’t fancy whipping up a DIY creation, their signature compilations include Bacon 182 with a maple glaze and coconut bacon, and X-Ray Speculoos, which is cookie butter sandwiched inside a donut with a chocolate glaze and a sprinkling of sea salt on top. Did we mention it’s all vegan?
3. London – fly from £30
Awarded Peta’s most vegetarian-friendly city in the world, our capital has a whole host of vegan and veggie-specific eateries, as well as plenty of mainstream restaurants with meat-free options. And no wonder really, when there are 3.5 million vegans in the UK to cater for. You’ll find plant-based fare all over the city, but the trendy East End has a concentrated offering of vegan cafés and restaurants. There’s even a vegan ‘chicken’ shop and vegan ‘fish’ and chips on offer in Hackney, and in Shoreditch, you’ll find meatless meaty burgers that look just like the real thing.
9 Jamestown Road, Camden
200 Pentonville Road, Kings Cross
45 Lexington Street, Soho
1 Dalston Square, Dalston
Mildreds started out as a cosy little veggie restaurant in Soho, and got so popular, it now has locations in Camden, Kings Cross and Dalston. The broad menu is fully veggie, with plenty of vegan options, too, and it takes inspiration from around the world – think Tandoori mock chicken, mushroom and ale pie and Caribbean jerk tofu. There are no reservations so you may have to wait for a table, but that just gives you more time to peruse the menu and try to narrow down your options.
Location: 74-76 Westbourne Grove, London
For fancy plates of goodness in an even fancier Notting Hill location, the biodynamic menu at Farmacy is all locally sourced with serious eco credentials. You’ll find the usual veggie burger and plant-based curries on offer, but why not try one of their earth bowls? These beautifully presented bowls serve up substantial portions of vegetarian fare, like the Macro bowl that comes filled with quinoa, roasted sweet potato, Kombu seaweed, samphire, kale, avocado, pickles and ginger miso dressing.
370 St John Street, Islington
22-24 Seymour Place, Marylebone
51 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith
87 Allitsen Road, St John’s Wood
With several locations across the city, The Gate describes itself as a plant-based pioneer. Just don’t expect hipster greenery and seagrass baskets here, instead the vibe is classy and upmarket. It’s the perfect place for a veggie date or for a celebratory meal, and you’ll find meat-free food for every occasion, from bottomless prosecco brunches on the Saturday to hungover Sunday roasts the next day.
4. Mexico – fly from £364
Plenty of Mexican staples are naturally plant-based – guacamole, beans, rice, salsa, tortilla chips, need we go on? – but despite this, Mexico doesn’t have a big reputation for being a vegetarian-friendly destination. In many areas, the term vegetarian actually means no red meat, so you might order the veggie option to find it is, in fact, chicken. But bear with us, because it’s all changing, especially in cosmopolitan areas like Mexico City, where you can find a burgeoning vegan food scene in the cool districts of Roma and La Condesa. Here you’ll find all those naturally veggie Mexican staples, plus meat-free versions of the classics, like tacos and enchiladas, all served with lashings of vegan cheese. Meet the best plant-based offerings in Mexico City:
Guanajuato 54, CDMX
Alejandro Dumas 16
This fully vegan menu delivers favourite dishes with a plant-based twist at two locations, Roma and Polanco. As well as all the usual suspects like mushrooms, tofu and hummus, dishes include a take on Mexican classics, such as cauliflower tacos with chipotle mayonnaise, avocado, cabbage, pico de gallo (salsa) and tortillas.
Location: Manzanillo, Roma Nte
For affordable Mexican street food the vegan way, visit Por Siempre Vegana Taqueria. It’s not the healthiest, but is that really what you look for in a taco stall? Of course not. You’re here for the crispy seitan and melting almond cheese that makes this such tasty comfort food. There’s no seating, so grab and go for the full street food experience.
Location: 90 Calle Querétaro, Roma Nte
This casual vegan taqueria offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, including very Instagrammable tacos made with pink tortillas (how extra). All the vegan-Mexican fusion fare is colourful and beautifully presented, and healthy, too. Round off your meal with almond milk ice-cream and chia pudding. Slightly less healthy, but totally worth it.
5. Sri Lanka – fly from £410
As a Buddhist country with around three-million Hindus, its fair to say that Sri Lanka knows how to cook for vegetarians. As with most countries, you’ll find more choice in the built-up areas that see more tourists and visitors, so head for places like Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Most restaurants will handily be labelled as vegetarian or ‘pure vegetarian’, although may contain dairy products and honey so check when ordering if you’re vegan. Many Sri Lankan dishes are naturally vegetarian – scan the menu and you’ll spot veggie favourites like jackfruit, dhal and hoppers. The latter are a classic Sri Lankan dish made with rice flour, coconut milks and a bit of sugar. They’re similar to pancakes, and can be served with savoury as well as sweet toppings. Perfect for mains and dessert, then.
Location: 53/3 Ramakrishna Road
Known as ‘The vegetarian restaurant’, 80% of diners at Shanmugas are repeat customers, which is always a good sign. On the menu you’ll find chaats, Indian breads, south Indian dishes, rice and noodles. But don’t worry if you don’t get to try it all, chances are you’ll be returning again anyway.
Location: 22 Old Kesbewa Road
This family-run cafe sits just south of Colombo in Nugegoda and specialises in veggie and vegan food. Offering home-style cooking, you’ll find authentic Sri Lankan specialities such as hoppers, dhal and soya kottu roti. Pop in during the day for breakfast, lunch, coffee or a smoothie.
Location: 77 Galle Road, Colombo
For a taste of South India in Sri Lanka, head to Chutneys at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. Inspired by the predominately vegetarian areas of India and prepared by Indian chefs, you’ll dine on different kinds of idli (savoury rice cakes) as well as a bazaar of dosai (pancakes made of rice batter), all washed down with an aromatic cup of masala chai.
Ready to eat your way around the world, veggie style? Book your flights below.
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 25 June 2019.