Urban Adventures. Quite simply, the Best. Day. Ever.
Making travel plans can be a bit challenging when you’re a vegetarian. Sure, you could try to explain to the waiter that you’d like that daily special sans meat, you could opt for a salad, or a disappointing bowl of plain rice, but where’s the fun in that? You want a feast – a tofu-packed, hummus-loaded, tempeh-filled, seitan-stuffed feast! Think you have to stick to the tried-and-true destinations to ensure you won’t go hungry? Think again! We’ve rounded up some awesome vegetarian-friendly destinations that you likely hadn’t considered. They’re so good in fact, they might even convert the most meat-loving carnivores.
11. San Francisco
When you think San Francisco Bay, you think seafood. So what’s a herbivore to do? Why, head over to The Ferry Building of course! It’s biweekly farmers market is vegetarian heaven! Operated by the non-profit Centre for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), it’s the perfect place to wander and sample a diverse selection of local farm produce and prepared foods. Even when the market isn’t on, you can still head to the Ferry Building Marketplace for its delicious artisan restaurants and shops.
Vegetarians travelling to Paris usually stick to a diet of baguettes and cheese. That’s great and all, but to add a little more diversity to your diet, check out Soya! This local French restaurant has a cool vibe with a dark and moody ambiance offset by delicious modern vegetarian cuisine. Try the plat du jour for the freshest bio fare!
The streets and markets of Bangkok are filled with meat – raw, grilled, and skewered. You could opt for a fresh fruit drink, or hope that a salad isn’t hiding ground pork and shrimp between the lettuce, or you could head to the Bangkok Vegetarian Festival. Not to be confused with the infamous Phuket Vegetarian Festival, this annual celebration serves up the best of meat-free Thai cuisine. Steamed dumplings, stir fried tofu, and pounded peanut candy anyone?
Although there are vegetarian interpretations of Venetian favourites like cicchetti, gnocchi, and risotto, why settle for second best when you could have a homemade vegetarian brunch on the Adriatic? If you don’t fancy yourself a yogi, head over to Orient Experience. This Middle Eastern restaurant in Venice focuses on slow food made with organic ingredients, offering a welcome change from pasta! Since they only have a couple tables, take the opportunity to have a relaxing vegetarian picnic on the canal!
A vegetarian’s diet in Niagara need not only consist of wine, although we’re not entirely against the idea! Home to Niagara VegFest, the local vegetarian dishes cooked with fresh Niagara produce delight vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. Niagara also has a thriving food truck scene with veggie treats being served up by Chef Adam Hynam-Smith and Tamara Jensen of El Gastronomo Vagabundo and Chef Jason and Nicole Sawatsky of The Yellow Pear from their solar powered truck. Their philosophy of eating local and eating what’s in season means a heavy focus on relationships with local farmers. It’s not unusual to find them wandering the farmers market looking for inspiration for their next creation!
Goulash and paprikás step aside! Budapest may be known for its meat-heavy dishes, but vegetarians can’t survive on paprika! Spending the day in Budapest in a search for some veggie-compatible options, we found a taste of the exotic and a taste of the traditional, where delicious meals are served up in just 15 minutes. Since Govinda first opened in 1996, it has quickly become a local favourite. Choose from an extensive selection of special, lacto-vegetarian dishes that ensure even the pickiest of eaters won’t get bored. The meals conform to a healthy diet of clean, fresh, ingredients featuring traditional Indian flavours. Govinda is sophisticated and focuses on quality, so don’t hesitate to go vegetarian (even for the day) and head over there for a delicious meal topped off with vegan sweets!
Houston tex-mex and BBQ – a meat lover’s dream, a vegetarian’s nightmare. Don’t settle for coleslaw, this local spot is so underground…it’s well, underground! That’s right, beat the Texan heat and head into Houston’s extensive seven-mile-long Tunnel System. With more than seven large food courts being dominated by the “meat and potato” scene, Salata is a refreshing, simple innovation where they take salads seriously! Each hand-tossed salad can consist of four kinds of lettuce, four kinds of cheese, and any combination of the 39 toppings, ranging from tried-and-true carrots, tomatoes, and radishes, to raisins, apples, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Top it with one of ten signature dressings made fresh every morning, and you’ll be on your way to vegetarian nirvana!
Czech cuisine errs on the side of the carnivorous with chicken, duck, turkey, fish, rabbit, and lamb finding their way into nearly every dish. Palačinky pancakes are delicious but what are you going to eat before dessert? Believe it or not, Prague has a flourishing vegetarian food culture with tons of amazingly good veggie places. Local gems like Maitrea and Lehka Hlava are known for turning even the most committed meat-lover into a veggie-advocate! Plus, their interiors were designed by Feng Shui masters and you can really feel the good vibes. Our favourite place, however, is in the heart of Bohemian Prague on Rimska Street. Plevel is a quirky vegan bistro serving up raw cuisine, delicious burgers, and most importantly they pay special attention to pouring local beer.
Cairo, land of kebabs and kuftas! Don’t choose the falafel-a-day diet, try this Egyptian delicacy for an exotic taste of Egypt fit for a pharaoh. Koshary is a sort of macaroni, rice, and lentil blend topped with a tomato-vinegar sauce. Add to that some chickpeas, crispy fried onions, and a little garlic and hot sauce on top and you’ve got yourself a serious vegetarian feast. Although koshary is served at roadside stalls, the best way to get your fix is at restaurants that specialise in koshary only. Often they serve nothing else, except for some kind of dessert. Since koshary contains no animal products, it is considered vegan as long as it’s prepared with vegetable oil. This dish is a local favourite among Egyptian youngsters and labourers, because it’s cheap and packed with energy – perfect for a day conquering the Pyramids!
In a city best known for cheesesteaks, followed closely by roast pork sandwiches and Italian hoagies, Philadelphia is certainly an unexpected destination for a vegetarian vacation. But before you put the kibosh on Philly, did you know that it has dominated the PETA ranks of vegetarian-friendly major league stadiums – both baseball and football? That’s right, sporting events aren’t all hot dogs and chili-cheese fries anymore! Veggie hoagies are a fan favourite at Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles. Faux-meat creations like chicken steak, patties, and barbecue pit beef sandwiches are among the winning selection of vegetarian sports grub offered at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park.
Although churrascaria is certainly a fan favourite in Rio de Janeiro, vegetarians have to pass on the all-you-can-eat meat frenzy. Instead of praying for salad on a stick, check out Potenza in Copacabana and Frontera in Ipanema. Both have an interesting local way of paying for food – it’s by weight, not plate! You get to choose what you crave most, and have the peace of mind knowing that you only pay for the food you get! Another favourite local vegetarian spot is La Bicyclette inside the Botanical Gardens. With the great view and organic cuisine, you can’t go wrong!