Vegan-Friendly Food From Around the World

The world is full of all kinds of amazing foods, but certain world cuisines are more vegan-friendly than others.

Whether you’re just beginning your vegan journey, have been vegan for years, or are traveling to another part of the world, it’s good to know both where to find and how to make reliably vegan meals.

These are just summaries on this page, with links to much more detailed descriptions at the end of each section, including information on what and how to order while dining out and lists of cookbooks and recipe blogs for each type of cuisine.

At a Glance

Easiest to make at home: Mexican & Italian

Easiest to order at a restaurant: Ethiopian & Middle Eastern

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Ethiopian food is one of the most vegan-friendly foods in existence. 

Ethiopian food is served family-style, with several large dollops of various entrees arranged on top of a giant spongey flat-bread called injera. You eat with your hands by ripping off pieces of the injera and using it to pick up portions of the entrees.

Typical Ethiopian food is full of meat and animal products like dairy, but many Ethiopian dishes are already vegan without needing any modification. This is because in Ethiopian culture it’s typical to “fast” from animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays, which means lots of great vegan options.


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Vegan Indian food is one of the best foods to make when cooking at home and it’s possible to find great vegan options while dining out at Indian restaurants as well.

Indian food is typically served family-style on a Thali, a round platter holding various dishes of entrees. You eat with your hands by ripping off pieces of Indian flatbread called roti and using it to pick up portions of the entrees.

Because dairy is such a large part of Indian culture, it can be tricky ordering vegan at an Indian restaurant, but there are still plenty of options available to you. Many Indian restaurants are familiar with preparing vegan dishes.


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Vegan Italian food is hands down one of the easiest foods to cook at home, making it one of the most vegan-friendly foods for home chefs, but it can often be somewhat difficult finding vegan options in most Italian restaurants.

Italian food focuses on using only a few ingredients per dish, but places a great deal of importance on the quality and freshness of those ingredients allowing them to really shine. The difference between good and bad Italian food often comes down to the quality of the ingredients more often than the way in which those ingredients were prepared.

Unfortunately, Italian food is stuffed full of meat, eggs, cheese and other dairy products. When dining out, this can pose a problem for a vegan, but when cooking at home these ingredients are easily replaced with their vegan alternatives.


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Vegan Japanese food is both easy to make at home and find while dining out. 

One could make the argument that the changing seasons are far more influential on Japanese cuisine than anything else. Japanese food follows the four seasons. As the seasons change, so do Japanese meals to reflect those changes. High quality seasonal vegetables, fruits, and other plant foods picked at their peak are key elements of Japanese cuisine. 

That being said, Japan is an island nation, so saying that “seafood” is a big part of Japanese culture would be a serious understatement. Japanese cuisine incorporates nearly everything possible from the sea, from fish to seaweed.

Because Japan has been primarily a pescatarian nation throughout most of its history, you might be surprised to learn that vegetarianism has also existed in Japan for almost a thousand years. Shojin Ryori, a vegetarian Japanese cuisine, was developed by strict Japanese Buddhist monks as early as the 13th century and still remains popular today. It’s the most consistently vegan Japanese food you can find at home or abroad.


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Vegan Mexican food is one of the easiest foods to make at home or order at a restaurant. This is because Mexican food recipes are based primarily on beans and rice. Many Mexican dishes are easily made vegan without much modification.

Traditional Mexican food uses a lot of meat, cheese, and lard (for cooking), but these things aren’t necessary for a satisfying Mexican meal. This is because vegetables, beans, and rice have always been the backbone of most Mexican dishes.


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Middle Eastern

Middle Eastern food is one of the most vegan-friendly foods around. It also happens to be pretty easy to make at home too.

Middle Eastern cuisine includes foods from Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt. While cuisine from these regions all varies slightly, there are some consistencies between them that make dining at these types of restaurants pretty easy as a vegan.

Meat is definitely a huge part of most Middle Eastern dishes, but it’s surprisingly easy to avoid. This is because many Middle Eastern dishes are already traditionally prepared vegan without needing any modification.


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Soul Food

Vegan soul food is easy to make at home and in certain areas can be easy to find while dining out.

Today, soul food is typically loaded with animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs — but it didn’t used to be. 

Soul food has its roots in Western African cuisine and slavery in America. It originally had little to no meat or dairy but instead focused primarily on humble and limited ingredients like cornmeal, molasses, and a variety of foraged and cultivated vegetables. These ingredients were resourcefully repurposed by enslaved Black people both for survival and also as a means of cultural expression.

Thankfully, there are plenty of soul food restaurants that are exclusively vegan, with more opening up every year. This is in large part due to many Black owners of soul food restaurants both wanting to bring the cuisine back to its roots and becoming active in racial and food justice movements by helping people in their community have access to healthier, higher quality foods.



Vegan Thai food is relatively easy to cook at home and order while dining out. 

Thai cuisine never contains cheese and hardly ever contains other dairy products because coconut milk and coconut cream are used instead.

Traditional Thai food is loaded with fish sauce, shrimp paste, and egg — all of which can be found ubiquitously in virtually every Thai dish. Despite this, Thai cuisine doesn’t treat meat as an absolutely necessary part of most dishes and many Thai dishes can be easily prepared without the fish sauce, shrimp paste or egg. Meat in a dish is typically replaced with tofu or veggies.


What’s your favorite vegan-friendly cuisine and why?

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