Veganism is one of world’s fastest growing lifestyle movements, and yet one of the biggest gripes for the millions of vegans populating the planet is the lack of brilliant options when eating out.
We’ve scoured the globe to find the best restaurants where any vegan can get their fill of tasty and nutritious food without feeling like they have to compromise on style or flavour.
From ethical fine dining to fish-free sushi on-the-go, these vegan hotspots are destinations in their own right, promoting cruelty-free fare that goes beyond bland nut roasts and tasteless tofu.
Pack a bag, book a ticket and never let your stomach grumble again.
Narcissa, New York
Farm-to-table New American cuisine gets a smart vegan spin at this cheerful East Village joint. Okay, the menu isn’t strictly meat-free (don’t go here if you can’t stomach the sight of seeing your neighbours tucking into dover sole and duck breasts) but it’s worth picking through the options to sample the delicious plant-based dishes. John Fraser – chef-owner of Michelin-starred Dovetail – is the man behind the veggie-forward venture, where root vegetables are spun on a rotisserie like suckling pigs. Make sure you try his roasted cauliflower that comes with french curry broth, lentils, toasted almonds.
Candle 79, New York
The creme de la creme of New York’s vegan fine-dining scene is this cosy bi-level townhouse on East 79th street in the heart of the Upper East Side. The menu is vast and eclectic, and well-heeled brownstone dwellers head here for everything from guacamole timbale and porcini-seared seitan to Moroccan spiced chickpea cake and dairy-free ice cream. There’s an excellent selection of organic wines to pair with the extensive menu, while the oxblood walls and low-lit tables provide intimate digs for a meat-free first date.
The Springs, Los Angeles
Vegan restaurants are opening by the dozen in LA at the moment, but the one hipsters head to is The Springs. This raw-restaurant-come-yoga-and-wellness space in the downtown Arts District is famed for its innovative cooking techniques – nothing is heated beyond 118 degrees. Highlights on the menu include kelp carbonara with coconut bacon, bahn xeo with vegan fish sauce and winter vegetable pot pie. Expect to see creative, clean eating types sipping on cold-pressed juices in every corner.
Cafe Gratitude, Los Angeles
Those beautiful Instagram stars who hashtag #blessed after every smug post are the type of people who hang out at Cafe Gratitude. The holistic eatery, run by health-based head chef Dreux Ellis, sees food as nourishment for the soul rather than just a quick fix for hunger pangs – but the taste alone might just convert you to its spiritual eating experience. The must-haves are maple bacon donuts, butternut squash tacos and raw lasagna.
Terre a Terre, Brighton
For haute cuisine with a relaxed vibe it’s hard to beat a trip to Terre a Terre. This brightly coloured seaside restaurant has long been a favourite for Brightonians (its been in business for over 20 years), serving up world-inspired veggie and vegan dishes with a fine-dining finesse. There’s a set menu to choose from as well as tapas-style sharing plates if you can’t decide on just one dish. Try the blistered padron peppers with Chinese watercress or the brilliant ‘cheese’ and pickle gnocchi. There are several interesting vegan dishes on the menu that go beyond butternut squash and tofu, and plenty of the vegetarian options can be made vegan too.
This Soho institution is as old as she sounds – hailing right back to the late Eighties. But don’t expect dated earthenware pottery and peeling wallpaper. This modern restaurant has been brought slap bang into 2016 with a chic Scandi vibe inside. The menu is international-themed, so there’s something to keep everyone happy – from burgers and salads to larger sharing plates. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t take bookings, so get in early to grab a table.
David Bann, Edinburgh
David Bann’s eponymous restaurant is a well-deserved, if obvious, inclusion in any vegan-friendly recommendation list that’s venturing up north for ideas. The veggie menu has plenty for dairy-free eaters too, with a globally inspired menu of fusion dishes from the Med to the Pacific.
Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, Washington DC
Elizabeth Petty opened her eponymous restaurant in 2010 after discovering the health benefits of raw-vegan food, following a battle with breast cancer one year earlier. Since then, the restaurant has become a staple of the Washington dining scene – for both staunch vegans and meat-eaters looking to try something a little different. Set in a regal Federalist townhouse, executive chef Francisco Hernandez offers up a seven-course tasting menu with dishes as diverse as tomato sashimi, white sesame-thyme panna cotta and kumquat and turmeric sorbet. If you want to book you’ll have to keep your diary flexible though – it’s only open on Friday nights.
Lucky Vancouver is home to this brilliant vegan/vegetarian spot near Riley Park. Tuck into zucchini pancakes, smashed peas, yogurt lemon balm for breakfast or try their faux-Ceaser salad for lunch: Kale from SOLEfood, the downtown urban farm, tempeh, smoked paprika croutons, crispy capers, olives and no-egg Caesar dressing. Delicious.
Beyond Sushi, New York
Beyond Sushi goes way beyond the usual vegan fare. Chef Guy Vaknin and his wife, Tali, fuse unconventional pairings of fruit and vegetables with whole grains to create wide-ranging vegan dishes including dumplings, noodle salads and noodle soups as well as signature plant-based sushi rolls that won’t make you miss the sashimi and nigiri. Lucky Manhattanites now have three branches to choose from.
Vegans come from far and wide to eat at Millennium. This west coast favourite has been around since the Nineties and is the only vegan restaurant in the world to have earned Michelin Bib Gourmand status. It’s just hopped across the bay from San Francisco to Oakland, but the food still sits at the same excellent standard. If the glowing Yelp reviews haven’t yet already convinced you to take a trip, take our word for it instead – this is meat-free fine dining at its best.
Plant, Cape Town
If the idea of food made from plants doesn’t exactly thrill you, this hip new vegan eatery may just change your mind. Its ethos is tasty and affordable food, using the best locally sourced ingredients to produce a seasonally inspired menu – serving up everything from triple-decker ‘egg’ and ‘cheese’ toasties to spicy bean and buddha bowls.
Nanuchka, Tel Aviv
The meat-free jewel of Tel Aviv served traditional Georgian cuisine for years – meaty dumplings, cutlets and stews. But when owner and chef Nana Shrier became vegan in 2014, she brought her restaurant along for the ride too. It now touts itself as ‘the first Georgian vegan restaurant’. These days, you’re more likely to find spinach stuffed dumplings than chicken, but the decor is still as traditional as it is warm and inviting.
Gentle Gourmet, Paris
The French are well-known for their love of nose to tail eating, but Paris is slowly embracing vegetarian alternatives. This eatery first opened its doors in Paris in 2009 as an option for plant-based eaters in a city shy of meat-free options. The menu changes four times a year, in line with the seasons, to offer flavourful and environmentally friendly dishes. Its goal, it says is to offer a vegan cuisine of equal if not higher quality than the classic meat dishes elsewhere in the city. Why not put them to the test on your next trip?
Haus Hiltl, Switzerland
This Swiss restaurant in trendy Zurich holds the Guinness world record for being the oldest continuously open vegetarian restaurant in the world – it’s been in business since 1898. While it does mainly cater for veggies, there are plenty of vegan options on the menu to satisfy dairy-free eaters. Buffet-style dining is the order of the day: grab a plate and pick from the huge choice of curries, chutneys, salads and tofu.
L’Arancia Blu, Rome
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on Italian food. This charming little restaurant, which looks like something between a wine cellar and bookshop, has been proving naysayers wrong for years. Its motto, which is printed on each napkin, reads: “Many consider vegetarian dishes to be lacking in flavor, monotonous and punitive. We try to prove them wrong.” Don’t be put off by the buttered zucchini, there are plenty of vegan options on the menu too such as the deliciously decadent black truffle macaroni. Well, when in Rome…
Suruchi, New Delhi
Many Indian dishes are ‘accidentally vegan’, so you’ll be spoilt for choice if you take a trip to New Delhi. Locals will rave to you about Suruchi, a traditional Gujarat and Rajasthani vegetarian that serves generous thalis, so you can try a little bit of everything. Pack your plate up with dal, salad, rice, roti, tangy rasams, crispy papad and pickle. Trust us, you won’t miss the meat.