by KATIE DRUMMOND
No matter where you travel, with a little planning and perseverance, you can have a successful vegan vacation. But if you’re looking for a trip that involves the least amount of pre-packed trail mix and garden salads, these five cities are tops for meat-free travel experiences.
1. New York City
This city never sleeps, and vegan tourists will have to stay up all night if they want to make a dent in the hundreds of vegetarian and vegan restaurants of New York. BabyCakes, an all-vegan bakery, and MooShoes, a leather-free shoe store, are two highlights for visitors when visiting the meat-free mecca. According to Rynn Berry, author of The Vegan Guide to New York City, this is the only city where travelers can indulge in almost any ethnic cuisine done vegan-style.
With the honor of being PETA’s #1 vegetarian-friendly city, Portland has quite a reputation to defend. Aside from restaurants like Palace Café—whose tofu scramble alone is worth the plane ticket—Portland is home to Voodoo Donuts, which serves up treats that most vegans probably haven’t enjoyed since their omnivorous days. Also, Portland’s all-vegan strip mall includes a grocery store, clothing retailer, bakery and tattoo parlor, presumably so you can get “vegan” etched in permanent, byproduct-free ink.
Mad Cow disease made veganism, already a longtime trend in England, even more popular. Now, vegetarian visitors can sleep easy at dozens of hotels and B&Bs that cater to meat-free lifestyles. Try Lincoln House Hotel, a small guesthouse in central London that offers a full vegan breakfast better than anything you might scrounge up at a typical hotel buffet. Indian food aficionados have dozens of options, including Chai Pani, which offers a daily, all-vegan lunch buffet to satisfy even the hungriest travelers.
The vegan scene is alive and well in Canada, especially in this “New York of the North.” The city only has a handful of vegan restaurants, but they’re renowned among the veggie community. Stop by Urban Herbivore, a cafe in trendy Kensington Market, for the infamous sweet-potato date muffin, and enjoy a “seafood” wrap at Vegetarian Haven, an Asian-fusion restaurant that specializes in mock meats. Left Feet, a vegan shoe store, makes sure that vegans from around the world put their most stylish feet forward each and every day.
Asian cuisine is often meat-free, and the bigger the city, the more likely you are to find vegetarian restaurants or shops. Tourists looking for a unique dining experience should check out Singapore’s street stalls, food outlets along bustling sidewalks that serve up everything from fish legs to more palatable vegan Indian and Chinese cuisine. Bring a translation book to make your dietary needs clear, and visit the Vegetarian Society of Singapore’s Web site for information on the many conferences, festivals and events dedicated to vegan living.
Quick Vegan Travel Tips:
1. Pack non-perishable snacks, including protein bars, trail mix and a jar of nut butter. I survived two weeks of Parisienne breakfasts by toting my own peanut butter to slather on baguettes.
2.Consider accommodations with a kitchenette for longer trips. If you can find a grocery store, you can probably find the staples to whip up vegan breakfasts, brown-bag lunches or easy snacks.
3. Opt for ethnic restaurants over mainstream, North American ones. Thai, Indian and Japanese restaurants are all likely to have plenty of veggies, tofu and rice on the menu.
4. Learn a few, vital phrases of the native tongue: “I have a dairy allergy” and “No meat, chicken, fish or eggs” are good basics to rely on.
5. Before your trip, head online, to Web sites like www.happycow.net, so you can scope out vegetarian restaurants and stores. You can also contact local vegetarian groups for more resources.