Stuck at home when you want to be on an adventure? We know the feeling! Being confined within four walls is a nightmare for those with serious wanderlust. The stress of 2020 is about all any of us can bear and that just makes the urge to get away that much more intense. When life has got you down, and you need to #stayathome, all you can do is daydream of exotic locales and foods you haven’t tried yet — and we have one way to help you escape from it…
We recently got back from a two-month Round-The-World-Trip, returning back home in the nick of time before Coronavirus shut the world down– despite the global pandemic looming, we managed to find amazing places and vegan eats that we can now share with YOU– all our fellow AND future globetrotters.
SO… GRAB SOME VEGAN SNACKS, FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS, RELAX AND ENJOY THIS VIRTUAL JOURNEY WITH US!
Our trip starts and will end here. Sydney is our home and is pure heaven for vegans! The number of cafes and restaurants serving a 100% plant-based menu is growing daily and picking the best to recommend is one of the most difficult things we can think of!
Australia’s multiculturalism has inspired the variety of food available around the continent. There are even entire suburbs offering almost exclusively vegan delicacies, ranging from Asian to Mexican, to Japanese, Ethiopian, Thai, Italian, Vietnamese and so on! Eat your vegan heart out, Oz!
In Sydney, we also run vegan food tours, aiming to walk you through the best areas so you can fully experience the unmissable vegan eats of the city. Here are some of our favorites:
GARDENER’S LODGE, Camperdown. Tasty Italian food accompanied by the friendliest staff and the most romantic location, right in the heart of Victoria Park, a true oasis in the middle of Sydney CBD. The whole menu is a treat for your soul, but don’t miss their crunchy Mushroom & Blue Cheeze Panini! You will thank us later!
THE GREEN LION, Rozelle. The first and only 100% plant-based pub in Australia! Yep, you read that right: that’s how the local vegan community likes to watch their “footy” (that’s soccer to you North Americans), in front of a cruelty-free beer and a massive guilt-free, multi-layer burger. The must-try (if you’re up for a real challenge): their Birthday Burger!
NUTIE DONUTS, Surry Hills. Over 80 different donut flavours, cakes, and decadent sweets– ’nuff said. Oh, and did we mention? They’re all vegan, and all gluten free! How can you resist that Cookie Monster face? And as they always say: “Abs are great, but have you tried donuts?”
It only takes a few hours by flight from Australia to reach our next stop: the breathtaking island of Bali, Indonesia. The well-known beauties that its nature offers, together with the low cost of living, make it an all-time favourite holiday destination in any season. Swings overlooking endless green rice fields, majestic waterfalls, white sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets… but there’s more: Bali is another true vegan paradise, thanks in part to the colourful and tasty variety of edible plants that its lands produce.
ZEST, Ubud. Hands down the best vegan restaurant we have ever been to, no joke. Just by entering this beautiful place, surrounded by native plants, you can feel positive vibes pervading your inner soul. All food here is meticulously prepared using only ingredients from the local food forest, and the creativity of the chefs is beyond indescribable. Fav dish? The Roman Jack Pizza!
GIVE CAFÉ, Canggu. No better name could have been found for this place that literally donates 100% of its profit to those who need it the most. Every month they choose three different charity organizations belonging to different categories: Animals, Planet and People. Definitely worth our support! Their menu offers a good variety of traditional Balinese dishes… veganized, of course.
Who in the world has never dreamed at least once about visiting India? We have been lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks exploring the magical landscapes and history of Rajasthan, one of its most famous regions (yes, including the magnificent Taj Mahal). We covered long distances by choosing cheap public transport and tried to experience the local life as much as possible. Finding vegan food wasn’t a huge concern, since the majority of Indians are vegetarian by default and happy to slightly adjust their recipes to accommodate our requirements. Favourite city? The fairy tale city of Jaisalmer. Favourite food? Here are our two top picks:
GREENR, New Delhi. Definitely not the traditional Indian restaurant you might think of, but 100% worth a visit! Located in a fancy new suburb just a few kilometres out of the craziness of New Delhi, GreenR supports only eco-conscious farming and they only use unrefined ingredients. We fell in love with the combination of flavours and colours of their Smoked Jackfruit Earth Bowl!
GOOD DO. Udaipur. A real blessing for the vegan community in India, this restaurant chain is the first to serve high-quality mock-meat dishes. Not only do they offer food at super affordable prices, in order to help those who want to adopt a plant-based lifestyle, but their products also do not need to be refrigerated– which is great, since only 30% of the Indian population owns a fridge in their homes. Kiosks and food trucks can be found in different cities around the country and their crispy fried “chicken” is something you truly don’t want to miss!
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Usually underrated, the Emirates can actually offer a lot to see and do. Our stay was unfortunately quite short and we only got to visit the city of Abu Dhabi, but it definitely didn’t disappoint our expectations. Being a recently founded city (1971) most of its buildings look sparkling brand new and modern. Completed only in 2007, the sumptuous Sheikh Zayed Mosque right in the heart of the city is a must-visit, with free entry and hundreds of 1001 Nights photo opportunities.
Food-wise, we couldn’t find any fully vegan restaurants in Abu Dhabi, but we did manage to find some great options. Warning: please keep in mind that the Emirates are quite pricey.
SOIL STORE. Located a bit outside the city centre, this health store was created to help people make the shift to clean eating and living. Inside their shop they also have a café offering a few vegan options. We highly recommend trying their homemade sweet potato hummus!
PIZZA DI ROCCO. More centrally located, this Italian restaurant has added a fully vegan section in their menu. Their pizza is proudly prepared following the real traditional Italian way and you can choose from six different tasty flavours.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now preparing to land in Africa: keep your seatbelt fastened and enjoy the view of enchanting Morocco. This country offers any kind of landscape you can think of, from the desert to the sea, with mountains, ancient cities, waterfalls, and rivers in between. On top of our list there’s only one place though, and that’s the incredible blue city of Chefchaouen. Wandering through its narrow streets makes you feel like you’re walking into a storybook!
And what about food? Morocco might seem like a difficult country to find vegan-friendly options, but we were quite lucky. Locals were very understanding and keen to accommodate our dietary requirements. Fortunately, many traditional Moroccan dishes can be easily prepared in a plant-based fashion. Oh, and be prepared for huge portions!
HAMSA, Chefchaouen. This cute café located right in the main square of the blue city provides the best combination of great food and nice views. As soon as you get to the rooftop, you immediately feel the wow-effect! There’s nothing better than enjoying the 50-shades-of-blue scenery in front of a vegan feast: mixed Moroccan salads and the best falafel platter we have ever tasted, followed by our favourite mint tea in the country.
KOULCHI ZINE, Marrakech. Koulchi Zine was the last restaurant we visited on our trip to Morocco, and it’s easily good enough to become our absolute number one! It was the only place we found in the country offering labelled vegan options on the menu, and that used products like plant-based cheese and mock-meats. Koulchi Zine uses high-quality ingredients and has top-notch food presentation. Must try: Moroccan mix entrees and the homemade vegan burger.
Time to fly to Europe and we couldn’t miss the chance to visit our homeland (yes, we were both born and raised in Italy). It would be totally impossible to describe in a few sentences the amount of history, nature, culture and tradition you can find in this country. We have traveled across most regions, from North to South, looking for hidden vegan gems, and we’re happy to report that in the last couple of years Italy has made huge improvements. Here are the must-see top 3:
ROMEOW CAT BISTROT, Rome. A place where you can combine two of the best things in life: beyond delicious vegan delicacies and cute kitty cuddles! Hang out with the six rescue cats who live there, while savoring a fully plant-based menu created with unique and seasonal flavours. The “Romei” cats are the real stars of this place! They are looked after with so much love that every single customer gets carefully instructed on how to be respectful: no flash pictures, no disturbing them if they are having a nap, and giving them the space they need are the top rules.
CAVOLI NOSTRI, Naples. Napoli was such a nice surprise! Not only for the beauty of its historical centre and the narrow streets packed with interesting things to browse…but the food! Oh.My.God, what an unbelievable experience! We literally rolled out this restaurant, since we basically ate the whole menu! Every single dish is worth a try at Cavoli Nostri. The food is inspired by the traditional local cuisine, but fully veganized. You can’t go wrong with anything you will order, but if we had to recommend a top pick: the Paccheri is a not-to-be-missed culinary experience.
LIFE BISTROT, Volterra. This restaurant, located in Tuscany, is a true museum, as it lies right over an archaeological site discovered during renovations only a few years ago. Their concept is based on a zero-food-waste policy utilizing a pay-by-weight formula, so you can have as much food as you like from the buffet (fully vegan and 100% organic) without the risk of overfilling your dish. This should encourage people to be wise about the quantity of food they put on their plate in order to avoid leftovers ending up in the trash. Oh, don’t forget to try their homemade Cotto di Grano!
Would you ever think of Budapest as one of the most vegan-friendly European capitals? It is indeed! And in addition to that, it’s such a charming city that has literally stolen our hearts. The best way to visit it is walking, which is not just super eco-friendly, but also the perfect way to enjoy every single view of both sides of the city (Buda & Pest) without missing out on anything.
VEGAN LOVE. Who doesn’t love comfort food? This place offers so many options you won’t be able to choose easily what to order. We loved the interior design of the place, with particular attention given to sustainability and green living. Suitable for all ages, even your kids will love their burgers and hot dogs! Must try: their Sweet Potato Burger, hands down the best we’ve ever had!
FILL GOOD. This cute and tiny artisan bakery is a hidden gem you won’t want to miss. The variety of sweet and savoury pastries on display is indescribable: it’s impossible to find something you won’t like. We tried all of them (it’s a hard job but someone has to do it, right?) and we couldn’t stop! Extra bonus point: prices are unbelievably affordable, which makes it approachable for anyone (against any preconceptions you may have had about vegan food being too expensive).
VEGAN GARDEN. Imagine a courtyard with 100% vegan street food trucks open every day! It’s like enjoying a vegan fair 365 times a year. There’s so much variety inside: burgers, Mexican, sweets, ice cream, and even a bar serving vegan-friendly alcoholic drinks. It’s the perfect spot to spend quality time with your friends, or meet new like-minded people. Must try: the Sweet Dream burger from Las Vegans truck, and the I’m So Corny soup from Vexicana. Yum!
Witnessing the Northern Lights has always been on top of our travel wishes. Unfortunately, Lapland is one of the most expensive destinations, so planning a trip there requires quite a bit of financial sacrifice. We could only afford 3 days there, and despite all of the research done to improve our chances of seeing the Aurora, sadly we weren’t lucky enough.
Finding vegan-friendly options can be almost as hard as catching the Northern Lights, but we still managed to eat 100% plant-based while there. We truly hope this can encourage others not to feel afraid about traveling to certain destinations, thinking they may need to give up their vegan lifestyle.
In the small villages we visited, we luckily found a couple of supermarkets with a small but good variety of vegan products. The restaurants were still struggling a bit with our requests, but we are confident they will improve in the near future.
Time to fly to a new continent! On our bucket list since forever, our trip to Mexico can be described as an explosive combination of unexpected events. The plan was touring the Riviera Maya (Yucatan Peninsula) up through Mexico City…but the Covid-19 emergency caught us totally unprepared.
Everything started to close down– restaurants, archaeological sites, most cenotes, even borders between Mexican states. Sadly, we couldn’t fully experience this beautiful country the way we wanted, but this won’t stop us from visiting again one day. Here are some of the best places we did get to try:
LAYLO and CO.CONAMOR , Tulum. Serving the best vegan food in Tulum! We couldn’t stop ordering their delicacies for delivery. It was a true pleasure to support local businesses in such a difficult time. The sushi and baguettes from Laylo were literally life: our daily drug! And just look at the colours of Co.conamor’s dishes!
LA SENDA, Playa del Carmen. One of the very few restaurants we managed to visit in person before the lockdown. We fell in love with the design and atmosphere of their indoor courtyard, and the food was beyond yum! They have a motto: “Let the food be your medicine”…so we let their heavenly, homemade cashew cheese be our energy boost!
(BPV EDITOR NOTE: Wanna try the restaurants on this guide? Fingers-crossed they survive this storm! If you are able to support them during this crisis, follow the links in the story and maybe pick up a gift card as a deposit towards your future travel, and stoke the fires of your wanderlust and global citizenship to keep the vegan world burning bright.)
Sarah & Gianluca are an eco-travel couple born and raised in Italy, now based in Sydney.
Proudly vegan since 2015, they soon realised eating plant-based food wasn’t enough: they wanted to share the importance of veganism with others. So, after first getting involved with animal rights activism, they founded VEGAN TRAVEL DIARIES in 2018: a blog that (with the addition of a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page, and an Instagram Feed) is focused on helping future globetrotters to understand that choosing a vegan and more sustainable way of traveling can really make a difference for the planet.