The world is full of mouthwatering food just waiting to be sampled by hungry travellers. Trying the local cuisine is one of the best ways to have an authentic holiday, as it allows you to dive into the culture around you and get a taste for the dishes your chosen destination is known for. You’ll want to skip the tourist spots and seek out a traditional restaurant – the food here will likely be made from age-old recipes and will use the freshest ingredients, rather than reheating anything frozen.
As a vegan, it can feel difficult to be adventurous when it comes to food, lest you accidentally eat anything that goes against your morals. However, technology is helping many of us try out new things without having to worry that our language skills aren’t quite up to scratch. You can look up vegan-friendly restaurants before you even leave home, or use translation apps to ensure that you’ve been as clear as possible about your needs with your server whilst you’re out and about.
So with the practicalities taken care of, let’s look at some of the best vegan dishes the world has to offer you.
Yes, you can get falafel in many supermarkets, but nothing beats the real deal. A far cry from dry, crumbly patties, authentic falafel bites are crispy on the outside, and soft and succulent on the inside. They’re made from chickpeas or fava beans blended with onions, garlic and other spices.
This Middle Eastern fast food is typically served as a sandwich, wrapped in warm pita or flatbread, alongside hummus, lettuce and cucumber. Some places will also serve it with tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, garlic and water), making it a great choice for vegans – you’ll also be able to find it served with rice or couscous for a larger meal, or as part of a mezze platter for a more social eating experience.
Another Middle Eastern dish, Fattoush is a great way to get a hit of locally sourced, fresh vegetables when you’re on holiday – a welcome break from chips and sorbets towards the end of a trip. It features mixed green salad, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, mint, parsley and sumac, although the salad ingredients do tend to vary depending on where you go. It’s topped with toasted pita bread triangles, and is sometimes served with a pomegranate dressing. Vegans simply need to ensure that the dressing is actually vegan – in some places, a yoghurt dressing is popular – before tucking in and enjoying this vibrant dish.
An Indian comfort food, Khichdi is known for its versatility, as cooks can add all sorts of different spices and vegetables depending on what is in season. The base is made up of lentils and rice, cooked until soft, and then the spices and veggies are added to create a soothing dish that is gentle on the digestive system and truly delicious. It’s even been associated with healing in the Ayurveda tradition, the ancient Indian medical system.
Vegans will need to ensure that the cook uses coconut oil or vegetable oil, rather than ghee, but the other traditional ingredients are naturally vegan, so you can simply relax and enjoy this bowl of warmth.
What better way to to get the rich flavours of seasonal vegetables than to simply make them the star of the dish? Vegan food often focuses on natural, simple ingredients, and that’s exactly what this dish of stuffed vegetables does best. Whilst some restaurants will use meat in their recipes, many won’t, making gemista a staple food for any vegans travelling in Greece or indeed across the Mediterranean.
Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes are gently roasted and then stuffed with creamy risotto rice that has been seasoned with parsley and mint. Gemista is often served with roast potatoes that have been in the same dish as the vegetables, allowing them to soak up flavour and get extra crispy. The result? The perfect holiday meal for your whole party.
Enjoy a foodie holiday
There’s no reason that vegans shouldn’t be able to explore the world through food – you’ll just need to do some research before you travel. For comfort and reassurance, you may also want to take some phrase cards in the local language, or download a translation app so you can tuck in without reservation.